English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #36: Chat with Pop Surrealist Painter & Comic Book Artist Camilla d’Errico

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Elle: Hello everyone and welcome to the LingQ podcast with me Elle. If you’re studying English, don’t forget that you can study these podcast episodes as English lessons on LingQ. Work your way through the transcript as you listen, translating words and phrases as you go. Those words and phrases will then be saved in your own personal database.

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Another great way to boost your level and make a breakthrough with your English. This week. I am joined by a very cool guest. She is a comic book artist and pop surrealistic painter and creator. I’m joined today by Camilla d’Errico. Camilla, how are you?

Camilla: How are you doing, Elle?

Elle: I’m great. I’m great. Thank you. And thank you so much for joining me. You’re joining me from Vancouver Island today, right?

Camilla: That’s right? Yes. I used to live in Vancouver for, uh, oh my gosh so many years. And then just last year we moved to Vancouver Island and it’s amazing.

Elle: Yes, I bet. I got a kind of a mini tour of your places just before we recorded. It looks beautiful. How is, uh, what’s the lifestyle like on Vancouver Island?

Camilla: Island life is like being semi retired. Uh, it could, it could be because I think we moved into retirement community without meaning to, we’re just, we were like, Hey, that house looks nice. And then we’re like, wait a second. Everybody here is like, oh, like there’s no one under 70 or like ok. Yeah, so it’s, so it’s so peaceful and quiet.

You see golf cards, you know, like just motoring every day past the house. And I’m like, oh, there you go. You’re just like Phil going golfing. It’s really quiet. And honestly, it’s such a difference from, from living in Vancouver where I lived in, uh, or my husband and I, we lived in a loft that was just in the middle of downtown, right in the middle.

And it was just loud. There would be sirens honking. There would be people screaming or talking, or it was, it was quite… it’s, it’s very, very different. And I love it. I love this quiet, peaceful like life.

Elle: Excellent. It sounds lovely. It does. Camilla I want to talk a little about how you got into art essentially.

So were you always a bit of an arty child, were you always drawing doodling or did it kind of come later?

Camilla: Totally. So my mom, uh, she said that when I was born, she said my hands were that of an artist. She just knew right away that I’d be an artistic. And I mean, my mother, my mother was a midwife in Italy too. So like she saw a lot of babies.

Uh, and I don’t know. I mean, she was always so encouraging. When my mother, uh, when my parents immigrated to Canada, they ended up having a daycare center in the home, you know, they just, and I was surrounded by children all the time. And I was coloring in coloring books and painting and doing all these artistic things.

And uh, I think maybe it was meant to be, and maybe it was just that my mother was encouraging, but I always was drawn to cartoons and art and beautiful things. So yeah, it was, um, I think if I could have been, I would have been born with a crayon in my hands.

Elle: It sounds like the perfect blend. So you’re born with kind of skill and these hands and then you have parents who nurture that, especially your mum.

Camilla: So my parents, like they wanted to be… they’re um because my parents immigrated, they wanted me to have a really good life. So they, they were scared initially about like me being an artist, like, okay, you know, the starving artist is… there’s a saying for a reason, but they, so they were like, yeah, they were very encouraging, but also very practical.

And I think that really helped me develop as a professional artist. So it wasn’t just like a hobby, as soon as they realized I wanted to do this, like as a career, they’re like, okay, well you’re, if you’re going to do it, you get them to do it right. And I’m like, yup.

Elle: Is anyone in your family, were your, your parents are they artistic? Or anyone, your aunts, uncles, grandparents that you know of?

Camilla: So my mom, um, she’s artistic, and then my great aunt, my great aunt. My great, why can’t I say it? My great grandma. So she was very artistic too… and yeah, there was a, cause I guess it runs in both sides of the family.

Um, my sisters didn’t get any of it though. It was like all condensed into me. Um, just, but they’re, you know, my family, I think they’re creative thinkers and they definitely are very unique in how they approach life. And so it’s not just like, Um, yeah, so my family’s creativity kind of comes out in different ways.

And for me it was a very visual kind of way.

Elle: And did you know then from a young age that art was what you wanted to do for your career then?

Camilla: Oh yeah, I actually thought that, um, so I was really big into dinosaurs. I don’t know if you were, but I was like obsessed with dinosaurs. And I thought, oh my gosh, this is the best thing ever.

I could just have a career of drawing dinosaurs. I thought that was what a paleontologist did. When I learned that, nope, we have to go into the hot sun and dig up dinosaur bones, and then there’s all this other, and I’m like, I have the, I mean, I’ve got this skin the color of, you know, mozzarella.

So I would have burned so quick. I mean, I burn, I get sunburns just being indoors. So imagine if I had gone outside. Um, so yeah, but, and so after… and it’s funny because, um, you know, my mom being like, so like around kids all the time, we watched a lot of cartoons and it wasn’t until The Little Mermaid, the Disney movie that I was like, I turned to my mom and I’m like, oh my gosh, this is so… I love this so much.

And my mom mentioned, she was like, yeah, well, that’s somebody, you know, that’s a career right there. I said what do you mean? I’m like, well, she’s like, well, people get paid to do to do that. Like people get paid to um, like, are you kidding me? People get paid to animate. And my mum was like, yeah, like that’s it.

I’m going to be an animator. So I, and that was when I was 12 and I was like, yeah, I’m going to be… no, younger than that, I don’t even remember. And my mom was like, okay, well, if you want to be an animator, you have to like, take all of the electives in high school and, you know, go to courses. So that was what I had planned to do.

Now, I apparently I’m just a terrible animator. I actually was like the worst. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the repetition of it. Uh, so it wasn’t for me. So I found other avenues to express myself creatively.

Elle: And did you go to school for art?

Camilla: Yeah, I did. So I went to, um, uh, the Kelowna University and I went there and I did a semester of fine… of um practical arts before I ended up going to the, the Vernon college to do the animation program.

So I learned, and I mean, I took all sorts of electives in high school. And then when I did the, after I did the, the, uh, graduated from the animation program, I, I went back to the school, um, in Vancouver and that was at the Capilano University. And I did the Idea Program, which is design illustration and painting.

So I had a very, I have a very, uh, like well-rounded creative history, you know?

Elle: So I mentioned in your intro that you are a pop surrealist painter and creator, because you don’t just paint you create jewelry, fashion, like toys, you’ve done so much. Very cool. Um, so, so what is pop surrealism?

Camilla: So, you know, it’s funny, I didn’t even know that pop surrealism existed until somebody mentioned it to me years ago.

And so pops realism is basically a faction of the low brow movement, art movement, which developed in the seventies. And it was this movement of artists who were doing a bit darker stuff, but more cartoony, you know. It was a branched off from what the traditional art was, you know, like realism and pointillism and abstract, like they were taking, uh, essentially like cartoons and elevating it.

And so pop surrealism, it’s the lighter side of that. It’s um, Yeah, it’s it’s, uh, it’s, it’s really fun. So it’s like essentially taking pop art and then twisting it with surrealism. So I fell into that without knowing it. I was just painting girls with, like I was, my style was inspired by animation, which anime in the Japanese style.

And, and portraiture is from Italy. You know, like I’m, uh, obviously my, my background is that. And so I was always obsessed with the Renaissance. And so it was like a, an amalgamation of the two. And because I did this kind of surreal element of having like giant animals on a little girl, like, like small heads, it was like, oh, that’s surreal.

And I got, like, I just was absorbed into that movement of art.

Elle: You were doing it before you even knew there was a name for it, essentially.

Camilla: Yeah, exactly. I didn’t even know. I was like, cause the movement was in Los Angeles mostly and I’m, I was in Vancouver and I didn’t even know about it until a collector from Los Angeles kind of mentioned it, you know?

Elle: An you say animals on the heads, I’ll show some images, um, for those, uh, people watching and links of course, to your art for those who are just listening, but I especially love the tentacles of yours. Just so cool.

Camilla: Oh, thank you. Well, you know, and it’s when I started out, I mean, I’ve been doing this for so long that there’s been so many stages in my career. So I started out with like, um, head gear, the helmet girls, and then it evolved into girls with, um, animals on their heads.

And now it’s, I’m slicing rainbows. It’s so much fun.

Elle: Yeah, has there been, uh, like you say, you’ve been, you’ve been at this for a while. You have so much work. Has there been a kind of highlight of your career so far?

Camilla: Oh my goodness. Um, well that might be an easier question if I wasn’t a Libra that can’t make decisions.

So I definitely know that I think a pivotal show for me was my, um, my Niji Bambini show, which means rainbow children. And it was a point in my career where I took off from doing just girls, like with animals. And it became the rainbow, the rainbow children. And like, this is, this is one of mine.

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