Chicago-based artist Anne Leuck [BS-Art ’90] calls herself a child of the ’70s, an era known for its bold sense of color and graphics. Grew up in Sparta, a small, idyllic, midwestern town in Wisconsin, Anne got intimately attached to the delights of color at home, where creativity spurred in little things since both her parents had a taste for art. Today, the 54-year-old visual storyteller experiments with traditional painting and drawing, as well as digital media, journaling, and ceramics. She has licensed her designs for stationery and home décor products, and her artwork has appeared on billboards, movies, books, TV, and magazines.

But there’s more to her story! In the prime of her career, Anne sunk into clinical depression. While the world got brighter and more joyful with her art, she suffered in silence. In a candid chat with Real Life Heroes – By Manvi, she discusses her life, artistic, and mental health journey.

Are you an artist first or a storyteller? How do you intermingle stories with art?

That’s one of those ‘which came first the chicken or the egg’ questions! I face difficulty verbally getting my point across, so art helps me communicate my thoughts in an abbreviated style via visual vocabulary of sorts. I spent my teen years organically doodling all over my high school notebooks. My earlier paintings consisted of an image in the middle and words around the border. My imagery expanded into different genres over the years, but it has always been narrative. I desired to marry my sketchbook journaling method with my painting process for my Middle Age Freak Show series. It was a fun way to create, especially for a middle-aged woman who often finds herself searching for words!

You have been documenting your life since 2001. Why?

I’ve documented my life in paintings and off and on in journals throughout my life, but never consistently. This all came about to solve a very different problem. A constant juggle between art and business left me with little time to create art. That’s when an artist friend who kept a daily sketchbook suggested I try it. It seemed like a perfect solution. Since then, the journaling has evolved with me through my divorce, the death of my dogs, moving homes and studios, health issues, depression. It has been a reflective place for me to record my life history, work through my problems and perform a bit of ‘self-analysis.’

As a woman artist, you talk about taboo, honor, physical, mental oddities, peri/menopausal journey. Why do these subjects need a mention? Do you feel the world is not prepared enough to fight these problems?