Turning Angst into Art

For creators, the dark angst in life is often fertile soil that nurtures their best creative work.

As a writer and illustrator of children’s books, Deb Lucke has a strong interest in bad behavior and horribly embarrassing incidents. Having had a childhood filled with angst surrounding both, she says she is never really short of inspiration.

As the creator of the graphic novels series, The Lunch Witch, Deb mined experiences and characters from her own life as inspiration. The stories feature a failed witch turned lunch lady who is shocked to find her most evil intentions undone by a 10-year-old with thick glasses and unfinished homework.

“I think that feeling of being an outcast and misfit – it’s true of a lot of creative people. I grew up in Ohio, and there wasn’t a great deal of emphasis put on creativity and being an artist. To the judgmental older ladies at church, I was the kid who giggled through the sermon.”

She failed at creative writing in school. “I think I tried too hard and I was always misunderstanding the assignment and what we were supposed to write.”

Deb admits there may be a bit of revenge in her stories. “I said that once to be funny, but it’s really true. We hold onto our pain and it changes us. It can be hard to let go of. As creators, we often redeem the hurts in our work.”

Like most creators, Deb struggles with whether what she creates is worth the investment of time required to create it, especially if it never sees the light of day.

“It can seem very self-indulgent to work a year or two years on something that never goes forward, especially if it’s putting a financial burden on your family or the people around you. It’s just really rare to be able to get something out there, to get it accepted and seen.

“Most of my work goes go by the wayside. And when it is successful, I ask myself, ‘Is it going to pay me enough for all those years I spent to create it?’ And the answer is no, probably not. But I just decide I’m going to do it anyhow.

“If you’re going to live the creative life, you have to let your mind wander into new areas. Allow yourself to keep exploring. Try something new. It isn’t a waste of time.”

In a previous life, Deb was an award-winning art director at several ad agencies including Ogivly + Mather and Hill Holliday. She is also the writer and director of a short film, The Creation.

You can here all of Deb’s thoughts during our recent conversation on my podcast, The Creator’s Journey. The link is: http://charlesgupton.com/podcast/deb-lucke-turning-darkness-life-thoughtful-graphic-novels-56/.

And a big thanks to DeMane Davis for making the intro to Deb after our convo for the show!