This Week’s Featured Woman of Wisdom is Camilla d’Errico, Artist, Business Owner, Author
Tell us more about your career as an artist and how you turned your passion for art into a business?
Art has been a huge part of my day-to-day during my entire life. Whether it was doodling with my sisters or watching cartoons as a child, I knew that I would be an artist. It was always in my blood. However, I wasn’t always right about what kind of artist I would end up becoming. Life has a funny way of surprising you. I switched art paths several times in my journey to becoming a professional artist. I started with animation, then moved on to graphic design until I finally became a professional comic book artist and fine art painter. It wasn’t until I became a pop surrealist painter that I turned my art into a business with the help of my older sister. She saw what I was doing and how people were responding to my artwork, and helped me down the path of merchandising and licensing my work. Now I run my art business full time, while painting for galleries worldwide, writing books for Random House and also working on manga styled comic projects.
What do you enjoy most about being an artist and business woman?
I love that I never have to grow up! I’ve often said I’m like Peter Pan. Being an artist allows me to stay in touch with the whimsical side of myself; the child inside me that loves to create and see the magic in the world. I balance that childlike wonder with the seriousness of running a business. I’m a Libra, so balancing the two sides of my personality comes easily to me – not to say that my job is easy (it isn’t). I really enjoy the business side of my life because it grounds me and connects me with so many different people. Watching my business grow and develop is amazing. I’m like a proud mamma.
Tell us about any new projects you have coming up (or recently completed).
I recently published my newest coloring book “Pop Manga Mermaid and Other Sea Creatures.” This is the second coloring book that I’ve published with Watson-Guptill/ Penguin Random House Books. Most recently, I released my very first wall sculpture with APPortfolio. I’m so thrilled with this project. It took a year of development, to bring my painting, “Aria”, to life – a hand painted, limited edition 3D wall mounted sculpture, with crystal eyes and gold leaf embellishments. My next big project is my “How To Draw” book, “Pop Manga Drawing,” which will be releasing in 2019 with Random House. I’m also preparing for my next solo show, which will debut at The Haven Gallery in Newport, New York in May 2019. My collection will be inspired by the zodiac, and I’m looking forward to this new series as I’m a huge fan of astronomy.
What is a typical day like for you?
I wake up and jump onto social media pretty much right away! I spend some time replying to my supporters and posting. Then I take care of my little French bulldog, Loki, and my betta fish. I’m an animal lover, so I always take care of them before I start creating. Generally, I spend the next several hours between emailing, phone meetings and creating my artwork. Sometimes I don’t even open my laptop until the afternoon, if I’m feeling particularly creative or I have a massive deadline. I take a break in the afternoon to take Loki out or do errands and exercise. It really varies, but then I get back to creating art until my hubby comes home. We spend some time together and then I’m back in my studio until the wee hours of the night. I usually create until 1am but there are times when I look up from my easel and its 4 a.m. or sometimes even 5 a.m.! After that, I crawl to bed and start my day again at 8:30 a.m. or 9 a.m. I think I’ll save up all my sleep for when I retire. Haha!
What is the biggest risk you ever took professionally and/or the biggest obstacle you have overcome?
In 2011, I was at a low point with my art. My art was successfully selling out at gallery shows, but I had become boxed in with my creativity. Galleries were excited to have me showing with them, but they were asking me to create the same art as other shows – big eyed girls with animals on their heads. Internally, I was screaming for change! I wanted to try new portraits and new concepts, but I was pigeon-holed and questioning whether or not I wanted to continue to do gallery shows if I couldn’t diversify. That’s when Tara McPherson asked me to show at her gallery. When I asked her what kind of paintings she’d like to see she replied “Whatever you want to,” which I challenged: “Whatever? I can do anything. It doesn’t have to be my big-eyed girls. I could do other concepts?” And she said, “Absolutely. Anything you want.” Funnily enough, she doesn’t remember our conversation, but her words encouraged me in a way that changed my art career. I released a new series of paintings in 2012 at her gallery that were completely different from my previous works. I called them my “Rainbow Children.” It was terrifying for me to paint those girls though. I took a huge risk by stepping outside my norm and creating paintings that were totally different from my previous works. I hoped that my collectors would love what I did, but honestly I had no idea how it would turn out. Luckily, the collectors and my supporters loved what I did! Ever since that show, I have not limited myself creatively. I take more risks now than ever, and continue to push my artwork in new directions.
From where do you draw inspiration? Who have been your role models, mentors, etc?
I actually don’t have anyone that I would call a role model or a mentor. I tend to be a lone wolf. My inspiration comes from many places and many sources. Nature inspires me, humanity and literature, colors and emotions. All those things come together to fuel my creative fire.
What do you do to keep yourself sharp? What one thing have you done in the past year that has made a significant difference in your art/your business?
I’m constantly working on ways to improve my business. I want to expand and grow – and work smarter. One thing that I did this year that I think is a game changer is work with my long time friends and associates to create a new distribution business. They’ve established a company, Pity Party Distribution, which will set up and sell my art and merchandise at various conventions, markets and tradeshows in the U.S. As I get older and my projects become bigger, I have less time and energy to travel. However, I love giving my supporters the opportunity to see my artwork and purchase my product and having the distribution company allows me to do that, while being able to do what I love – create art in my studio.
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?
John Buschema gave me some advice that I have followed since I talked to him in 1999. He asked me why I wanted to be an artist, and I replied that I loved drawing. He smiled and proceeded to give me his advice. He said that it is passion that makes an artist successful. He told me that if I wanted to be famous and rich that I should plan to become an actress because it’s easier than becoming a rich and famous artist. He said that it is passion that will get me through the long hours, the tight deadlines and the times that I get screwed over. He told me that whatever I do in life that I should do it because I’m passionate about it and to work hard for it, nothing is handed to me and that I have to do what I do because I love it – that’s the key to success. So I’d like to pass that same advice along to others.
What do you do for fun/relaxation?
I have a silly hobby that I do, which relaxes me. I enjoy it so much, I’m completely addicted to it! I write fanfiction. I know how ridiculous it sounds but its so much fun for me to write stories about my favorite TV shows.
What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
I plan to create a new graphic novel series with Joshua Dysart called “Helmetgirls: Origins.” This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a decade now. It means a lot to me to finally bring it to life. Along with that, I really want to do less is more with my business. I have created so many different products with my art, but going forward I want to focus on bigger products versus lots of little ones. I’ve got a few things I’m cooking up that I think my supporters are going to love.
You want to write a book on ______________________
Since I started writing fanfiction I’ve fallen in love with creative writing. If I could write a book, it would be a vampire trilogy. I love vampires and supernatural creatures so I’d definitely would create a brand new story with a female lead and a sexy badboy vampire.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Being a woman in business means a lot to me. I have been working in male dominated industries since I was 18. Now, I feel fortunate to work in creative industries that celebrate creative skills and focus on work ethic versus gender. I have seen the comic book and fine art industry grow and expand to include so many more women over the years. As a woman I appreciate this. Women need to shed their own preconceived notions of what they can and can’t do. I was one of the first women in comics. Now, there are dozens with more and more joining every day. Just because we are women doesn’t mean we can’t draw comic books or become politicians or scientists or mechanics. If you find something that you are passionate about, DO IT! Follow your passions no matter what they are and fight for it. You are only limited by yourself!
What’s the best way for our readers to connect with you?
I’m active on social media at @camilladerrico and @helmetgirl on Twitter, as well as facebook.com/camilladerricoart, with lots more information and art on my website at camilladerrico.com and new releases and custom prints on thecamillastore.etsy.com and store.camilladerrico.com.