By Andy Lyons, Editor-in-Chief
Perusing the aisles at Planet Comicon can become a tiresome trek winding through Artist Alley, prints of iconic superheroes melding together as a mass of paper and goods become a blur. Several artists break the mold and stand out; among them is Camilla d’Errico, her booth shrouded in bright blue with her unique style elevating her above the walls of prints common to the section.
d’Errico, of Canada, has had a busy year, with PCC being her third weekend in a row showing at a convention. She said she couldn’t resist coming to the show because she hadn’t been to Kansas City for years and had an open window she had to take.
“It’s my first time here so I wasn’t expecting my Emerald City (in Seattle) where I’ve been there for 17 years and people flood, but it’s been decent, I’ve sold all the books so I couldn’t ask for more,” she said of her experience at PCC. “Books are the worst, having to ship those back. But I’ve had so many people who are really excited and for me as long as I can connect with people and if they can get even a button from me it supports me. It allows me to create what I do and I can never complain about it.”
Across d’Errico’s booth were outlandish prints, hoodies, stickers and more that put her unique style on full display for anyone passing by. While her style is heavily influenced by manga, it is accompanied by surrealistic elements that make it stand out.
“My whole being is Italian,” d’Errico joked. “My parents took me to Italy a lot, and so I really loved looking at all the Renaissance paintings and I’ve really absorbed art since I was a child. And anime hit North America with a sledgehammer. And I’m like ‘what’s this?!’ Like Sailor Moon? Dudes fighting in a tuxedo? This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. So I decided to blend the two together and my artwork is like high-end anime, I would say.”
Much of her art features faces and creatures, both real and fantasy. d’Errico said she gains ideas from her real life experiences.
“Ideas come from emotions, and emotions come from whatever is happening in the world,” she explained. “My last solo show, last year, was called ‘Sky’ and it was about unity and diversity and to show people we live under the same sky so we’re all human. So every piece was born from that concept. And my new solo show which is coming out May 11 is the ‘Zodiac’… That was born from my passion of the zodiac and mysticism and things that connect us. I believe that people, like myself I’m a Libra and most Libras are really romantic, indecisive so I’m representing that in the paintings.”
One of the pieces hanging in her booth featured what seemed to be a girl with a lion’s face above hers with gold and blue droplets throughout her hair and one eye of each being blue and the other gold. While the image could easily be chocked up to a manga character, d’Errico explained it was based in Greek mythology.
“’Arya’ is based on the goddess Artemis. The lion represents her spirit and her face represents her humanity,” she said. “I used one gold eye and one blue eye because the gold represents day and the blue represents night. The duality! Every drip that is gold represents a day she spent on Earth and the blue are every night she spent on Earth.”
One of the most popular items at d’Errico’s booth was her bee stickers. The bees transformed into famous heroes and villains, featuring the likenesses of characters such as Batman, Joker, Darth Maul, and Sailor Moon.
“I started raising money for this charity called Planet Bee,” she said. “And they are a foundation that raises awareness for bees and bee conservation. They also help build hives which is really awesome. I started out painting the bees for them and then it just took off and it kind of sparked something in me… I was so miserable because of, well things in the world were not what I thought they would be. And I was just using them as escapism and I was like ‘man, these bees are making me happy,’ and apparently they’re making a lot of people happy because they’re just gobbling them up.”
“And now I’m blending them with pop culture characters like Jason Vorbees,” she continued. “I did a BeeWee Herman. The puns themselves are half of it. I’m thinking of doing a Dr. Who series of Bees and then I really want to Marvel bees or something. It won’t end. It’ll never end.”
When viewing d’Errico’s art, it’s easy to imagine her designing each piece digitally. However, she explained she prefers to do it all by hand. She uses pencils and inks for comic book covers, the bees are done with acrylics and her paintings are all done with water soluble oils, an effort to be environmentally friendly.
When Canada legalized marijuana, she released her “Flying High Bird” emblazoned with a pot leaf. Special to Planet Comicon she released an LBGTQ Bird to support a community many of her friends are a part of. d’Errico said she decided that 2019 was the year she wanted to take a stand.
“So I made this bird because I want people to feel free… and to wear their bird proudly,” she said. “I have friends who are gay and lesbian and trans and they struggle so much and it’s not right. Because of who they love they are discriminated against. That’s not the point. The point is that they love and they should love freely.”
Much of her art has tones of unity and being free and open. But d’Errico said she has no qualms with taking a stand and accepting the pushback from fans she doesn’t really want if they think there’s a problem with social topics such as homosexuality or body acceptance.
“In the beginning I was very subtle about it because I’m more subtle and I thought people would get it,” she said. “I thought people would get it and read between the lines… Now I’m being really obvious with my art, and I’m saying it. And the repercussions of what I’m doing, maybe I’ll lose some followers but those are people I don’t want anyway. Honestly, if they think there’s a problem with being gay I don’t need you as a follower, like you’re a terrible person. I will say that, ‘you’re a terrible person.’ Now I’m just being out there with it. I support every culture, I support every community. I think that if you’re a decent person, you care and you love people, you don’t hurt others then you need to be represented and I will be there to support you.”
“Now I’m painting ‘Fluffy Girls’ I call them, they’re curvy,” she continued. “I actually had one person tell me they unfollowed me because I called them fluffy and I was like ‘oh I’m sorry was that offensive’ thinking oh no I didn’t mean it. And she was like ‘no, you’re being too nice about it.’”
Part of taking her stand has included being more positive on her social media. Focused on bringing people happiness and joy despite her own struggles, that’s how she wants to project to her followers.
On April 5 a new series of bees will release online, Easter Bees. Instead of stingers they’ll have “fluffy bunny butts.” Her showing of “Zodiac” opens with a reception at the Haven Gallery in Northport, New York on May 11 at 6 p.m. The show runs from May 11 to June 16.