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Original short interviews with notable, rising or overlooked
figures from comics or the larger entertainment field by Bill Baker.

BAKER'S DOZEN for 09/30/2009
Scary Monsters
Andi Green on The WorryWoos and the other monsters in her head

I imagine it’s happened to just about everyone.

You read an article about an artist that opens up a whole new world for you, catch a TV show that leads to an encounter with a new idea which alters your worldview, or perhaps hear a radio broadcast that introduces a sound that’s so new that you just have to share it with your friends. Those moments aren’t all that different for me, except that I get to share those wonderful discoveries with you, my readers. It’s but one of the perks that make this “job” worthwhile.

Today’s case in point: Andi Green, the monsters she’s found her head, and The WorryWoos children’s books.

Although I’ve not yet had the chance to meet Andi in person, or to experience her art first hand, I have checked out her art online and been lucky enough to read an advance copy of her forthcoming children’s book, The Monster in the Bubble. And I can truthfully report that I’ve found it all to be fun, interesting, and truly engaging work. By turns whimsical and affecting, simply silly and deeply wise, it’s all beautifully designed, drawn and colored, and sure to appeal to kids of all ages… even those “kids” who, like me, happen to masquerade as adults.

Bill Baker: How do you describe your work to those who are unfamiliar with the world of The WorryWoos?

Andi Green: I usually describe the world of The WorryWoos as a true labor of love. [It’s] where the emotional monsters in my head come to life through text, pen, ink and watercolor.

As a result of my own personal experiences, I wanted to create a new spin on the topic of emotions. Since they may be overwhelming, I envisioned them as Monsters. At the same time, I wanted to impress upon children that these are universal feelings which are not insurmountable. By making them understandable and amusing, I attempted to show that they are “friendly monsters” which everyone encounters from time to time. Hopefully the format which I’ve presented provides an opportunity for dialog between the reader and child which will initiate further discussions about “feelings” emphasizing “Hey, it’s ok!”

BB: What are you trying to accomplish with these books? Do you have any specific agenda or goals, or is it all about pure entertainment?

AG: I think it’s a mixture of goals and pure entertainment. There are so many books out there today that skirt around emotions and don’t actually say “Hey, I’m lonely or insecure”. So in some way you could say my goal is to address these difficult emotions head on while still providing an entertaining story with fun illustrations.

BB: Well, if I may play the devil’s advocate for a moment, could you explain why you believe we should encourage kids to express their deepest emotions? I mean, don’t they do that readily enough already… and aren’t those feelings exactly the kind of things that need to be suppressed?

AG: Why hide what you feel? To me that seems stifling and unhealthy. While kids may talk, adults don’t often hear. These stories present an opportunity to discuss issues in a non-threatening manner. My books are based on emotions that I have personally felt; they come from a very familiar place. I spent years trying to hide what I was feeling and once I started bringing my own feelings to life they were so much easier to deal with. I hope others will feel the same way.

BB: You first introduced these critters to the world in “The Monsters in My Head” show, if memory serves. How did your involvement in that exhibit come about, and what kind of effect, if any, did that have on your work?

AG: My first show was a group show on The Lower East Side in New York City. It was through my sister, who is an artist (an amazing painter!). They initially asked me to show some of my design/photography work but I decided I wanted to create something new with the monsters I had been drawing for quite a bit of time. I produced five 24 X 36 Illustrations behind plexi with each monster’s story Xerox transferred to the front.

(Xerox transfer…I don’t even think they teach that anymore! It is when you use text from a photocopier and lay it on a surface and transfer the type from the paper to the surface with water and acetone. I transferred each story letter by letter!)

The original theme of “The Monsters in My Head” was a bit more adult driven, but I received such positive feedback from parents, I decided to break down the concepts and hand make children’s books for later exhibitions. And that is where the book idea all really started.

BB: How did you transform those single images into ideas for the storybooks? What kind of development process did that entail; how difficult was it; and what kind of surprises, pleasant or otherwise, did it present you with?

AG: With my design background, creating the books came naturally to me. For each book I create a rough storyboard with the words next to it. Then I just draw. Some days I’ll get nothing done; other days there will be wall to wall sketches.

What I love the most is seeing the progression of my illustrations through each story and book. How my lines change weight and color palettes are distinct for each monster. The way each drawing I do is such an expression of the moment. Drawing for me is my favorite time! My latest book is The Monster in The Bubble. Every time I started sketching something new I would get all giddy because it was so much fun bringing each character to life... especially Squeek… he is an interesting little guy!

BB: On your website you note that your friends helped you come up with The WorryWoos name. Did they have any further influence on The Woos project? And is there anyone else—be they writers or artists you admire or people in your life—who might have influenced your work?

AG: My friends and family are a very important part of my process. My mom is my editor and one tough critic. My sister will sit with me when I am stuck on an idea and give me her honest opinion. As an artist and art teacher in an inner city school, I was influenced by her dual motivations and came to realize the importance of perseverance and following your dreams.

In addition to this family team, a good friend assists me with the web and final production phase. I used to think everything you do, you do alone. But working on The WorryWoos has shown me how important it is to accept suggestions and positive criticism. Since Jim Henson is my hero, my ultimate dream would be seeing The WorryWoos as large Hensonesque puppets in lavish scenarios expressing the “humanness” and solvability of each story; something kids, and adults could relate to.

BB: If memory serves, you’re still working full time as an art director, and doing these books on the side. What does that job entail, and what kind of impact, if any, does the day job have on your after hours creative projects?

AG: Funny you ask that, because I am just about to go full time on The Woos. It has been difficult juggling both. My job as an art director requires a lot of heavy thinking and copywriting. I am one of those solo AD’s who does everything, from brainstorming headlines to producing the whole campaign. The cool thing is the company I work for
is really interesting and they allow me to make some pretty crazy ads.

But with all that said, it has become too difficult since my heart and soul are in The Woos. At this point if I don’t do one or the other I will completely burn out.

BB: What does creating your own art give you that you might not have gotten from your work as an art director? How about The WorryWoos? Does that give you something that you don’t get from your job, or even your art?

AG: As an Art Director, I am working on other people’s dreams. My art and The Woos are my dream and there is nothing more satisfying than actually putting your all into your dream.

It is cool to see ads I have created make headlines… but to see The WorryWoos and have my art get noticed, rewarding doesn’t even describe how I feel.

The WorryWoos are my art at this point. I don’t really focus on large scale pieces anymore. I am just so into drawing these books. One day I hope to exhibit the illustrations from the books in light box form, each in its own little light box. To see the original drawings is really cool because they have such strong texture. I try and keep that
texture going even when the art is scanned.

BB: How about your audience? Is there anything else, aside from the things mentioned above, that you hope they get from your work as a storyteller, or an artist?

AG: I just hope people enjoy my art and stories and if I can make someone feel a little better after they read my book, well, that makes it all worthwhile!

BB: What’s next for you? Are there any new WorryWoos books in the works? How about your career as an artist? Any exhibitions coming up that will feature your work?

AG: My next book, The Monster in The Bubble, is about to enter the world mid-September! After that, I will be working on my fourth book, based on Fuddle, The Monster of Confusion.

As for the art world, I was just approached about pulling out The Monster Boxes for a possible October group show. We will see how that goes… I do hope to get more involved with my art this coming year. But I still miss the old days of exhibiting my monsters.

BB: Anything else you’d like to add before I let you get back to work?

AG: I will be doing various readings throughout out NYC and NJ in the month of October. From November 8-15, I will be doing additional readings in Northern California and Nevada. My website, www.WorryWoos.com, posts the specific times and locations. It also indicates where you can purchase my new book, The Monster in The Bubble, and all The WorryWoos!

Oh yeah, there will be launch party for my latest book at The W Hotel in Hoboken, NJ. I will post all the details on my website!

Thank you for this interview; these were really great questions!

BB: My pleasure, Andi, and thanks for the great answers!


If you’d like to learn more about Andi’s work, or would like to pick up copies of The WorryWoos series of books for the favorite kids in your life, head on over to www.WorryWoos.com.

And don’t hesitate to tell her that I sent ya.

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