Twenty Questions: Andi Green (WorryWoos)
Andi Green is the artist and illustrator behind the WorryWoos series of books and plush toys. To date, she has released books and the accompanying plush toys for five characters: Nola, Rue, Fuddle, Squeek, and Wince.
She can be followed on Twitter at @WorryWooMonster
P&P: What's the genesis behind the WorryWoo Monsters line?
AG: The WorryWoos started back when I was in high school. I would sketch out these monster characters everywhere but never really knew why. It wasn’t until after college that I realized I was sketching out characters based on the emotions I was feeling. I decided one day while drawing that I wanted to create light boxes for these ideas and write stories that explained who they were. While writing out their background stories I decided to take it one step further and Xerox transfer the stories to the front of the 24" x 36” light boxes I had built. It was an amazing process for me as it was the first time I combined my love for illustrating with my love for typography and design.
Side note -- Some people don’t know what the Xerox Transfer process is -- it is the process when you take words or images and photocopy them backwards then use a solution to transfer the image off the paper and onto a surface. For me this hands on ability to cut each letter out of the story and play with the type on top of the character was truly exhilarating. I just love how playful type can add to an image. And as tedious as it sounds, it made the stories and final product that much more personal for me, I was able to express the feeling of each letter through this process.
At that point the WorryWoos made their first appearance as The Monsters In My Head in a group exhibition in NYC. The response was really astonishing, so many teachers and parents wanted my characters that after the show I started to break down the stories and create storyboards for books. And so began my journey into the world of The WorryWoos.
P&P: Do you have a set process for creating a WorryWoo? Does the story come first, or do you first design the character?
AG: The characters always come first. I love to sketch out my ideas before anything else. Even in the final books I like to tell the story both visually and verbally. The process is kind of backwards and can definitely create some road blocks as I have a bunch of illustrations that as much as I try I just can’t write to them but it works for me and allows me to really tap into my drawing world which is my favorite place to be.
P&P: Since you have control final over what the illustrated versions of your characters look like, what are some of challenges getting them into plush form?
AG: It is really hard to get the dimensions you have in a drawing to match that in a plush. A lot of my characters have exaggerated features, super skinny necks, over-sized eyes etc. For a plush these mechanics just don’t work. A small neck with a large head causes a monster with it’s head on the ground. It becomes a push and pull and a lot of back to the drawing board. But once I see a shape and look that works, I feel extremely satisfied...then onto the characteristics...ha.
P&P: Have you ever thought about releasing a vinyl or resin series of toys based on the WorryWoos?
AG: Absolutely! I think the characters would look so cool as vinyl. I just have to figure out how. I am very attached to the look of my characters and vinyl is such an art I would have to work with the right people to make sure the vinyl encompassed the characters essence.
P&P: At conventions and other events, do you see more customers who are toy collectors or parents and kids?
AG: I get a mix of both. This year the first day of Comic Con I had so many repeat customers from the previous year because they were either collecting the WorryWoo or their kiddies loved them. It was fantastic!
P&P: What would give you more satisfaction: seeing a child reading a WorryWoo book or seeing a child with a WorryWoo plush?
AG: Seeing a child reading a WorryWoo book is so rewarding for me. To see how engaged they are with the story and to hear them discuss what they think is happening in the stories is just too awesome for words.
P&P: So far, you have addressed Loneliness, Insecurity, Confusion, Innocence and Worry in your stories. What types of topics will we see discussed in upcoming WorryWoo tales?
AG: There are so many emotions I am just now starting to make a list of the next topics. I get a lot of emails asking if I will make a book about a certain emotion or situation. I hope to one day address a lot of these requests.
P&P: I see that Twitch is the next WorryWoo to be released, can you give us a preview of what his/her story might be about?
AG: Twitch’s book is all about frustration. There are so many different ways to feel frustration that I am hoping to tap into a bunch of them through Twitch’s daily experience. My goal is to show how letting frustration get the best of us can turn pretty ugly. Sometimes we have to step back and stop focusing on the negative and enjoy the positive.
P&P: If you had to choose one WorryWoo character that best represents Andi Green...which would it be?
AG: WOW! I don’t know! They are all me!! Probably Fuddle, I can never make up my mind... it is amazing I am even able to finish a book.. Confusion can really stop me in my tracks... but now I say to myself what would Mr. Worm and Fuddle tell me!!
P&P: We've seen books, plush toys and artwork based on the WorryWoos. What can we expect next?
AG: A Woosical and an animated I-Pad Appl!! I am currently working with an amazing group of people who are producing a WorryWoo musical for Fall 2012. They are so talented and the music they have created is unbelievable. I am beyond excited! As well the I-Pad App will be released next year and the goal is to maintain the WorryWoo look and feel even in the digital world.. and the group who is working on it is doing an incredible job.
P&P: Where do you see the WorryWoos line five years from now?
AG: I hope in five years to see a lot more people embracing their inner Woo! The goal is to evolve the characters into a full Woo World where there are more WorryWoos and Wooland has really been mapped out. Pipe-dream is to see them as large puppets in Woo Land!
P&P: Are you currently working on any projects outside of WorryWoos?
AG: I am, but I am not ready to talk about them yet. I am staying focused on Twitch.
P&P: If you could choose one artist to collaborate with, who would it be?
AG: I would love to collaborate with the team from the Jim Henson group. There are so many talented artists there and I just know we could do some amazing work together.
P&P: Since the line is a favorite of plush collectors, is there anything that you are passionate about collecting?
AG: I love old cameras and love to buy the really old ones when I see them at flea markets. Even if they don’t work, they intrigue me.
P&P: What words of advice would you give to aspiring artists or authors?
AG: It may sound hard but it is always important to find the positive in every negative! When things go wrong, don’t give up instead, learn and move on. Mistakes can be the greatest stepping stone and if you learn from them they will make you that much stronger.
And Five Random Questions:
P&P: What was your favorite childhood cartoon?
AG: That is a tough one.. I was a cartoon fanatic. If it was on I watched it! I had every ScoobyDoo cartoon memorized (this will give you a clue to my answer to another question) but I also never missed SpiderMan and His Amazing Friends.. I loved Firestar.. she had the coolest hair! And I can’t leave out The Last Unicorn...that movie was a huge inspiration to me and I still watch it and am enthralled.
P&P: If you were stuck in an elevator for 2 hours, what song would you rather hear nonstop: Walking On Sunshine or We Built This City?
AG: I am going to have to go with We Built This City.
P&P: What's the last movie you watched?
AG: I just watched 180 Degrees South. Very inspiring. I hope to one day to be able to follow in their path.
P&P: What toppings do you like on a pizza?
AG: Spinach, mushrooms and olives.
P&P: Are you a cat person or a dog person?
AG: I am definitely more of a dog person BUT I have to whisper this because my cat is right here on my lap and she would be devastated to find this out! I love running with my dogs and this has created a very deep bond between us.