Aliki Liacouras Brandenberg Artist and Author
I cannot write about myself without first mentioning my incredible parents, who gave their four children a rock-like foundation of unequivocal love, devotion, support, respect, and strength to last our lifetimes.
My father, James Peter Liacouras, emigrated in his teens from Harakopoio, a small village by the sea in Messinia – with his unpretentious values, love of food, music, and his sense of humor intact. My mother, Stella Lagakos, an arrestingly beautiful, gentlewoman, emigrated as a child from an even smaller mountain village, Tseria, in Sparta. She nurtured and nourished us inside and out, sewed our clothes, expected estima, respect, manners, dignity, and kept us busy with lessons—piano, dance, Greek, and wherever our talents lay. Sundays were dedicated to St. George Greek Orthodox Church, choir, Sunday School with the inimitable Theresa Chletchos, and that is where I later taught Sunday School.
And so, I grew up very Greek in Philadelphia (and always call myself Greek American) – in our big, musical, creative, affectionate, extended family. I was always drawing. In Kindergarten, when my teacher told my parents I’d be an artist someday, she inadvertently gave me my career.
I was gifted with encouragement and support from family and teachers throughout.
I graduated from the Philadelphia Museum School of Art (now University of the Arts), designed greeting cards, painted murals, taught art and ceramics, and finally settled into advertising and display work. Later, living in Switzerland with my new husband Franz Brandenberg, I was given a book to illustrate. It led to my writing and illustrating my first book, The Story of William Tell. Soon after, we moved to New York where another book popped into my head, My Five Senses. New York changed the direction of my life from advertising to books – and is where our children, Jason and Alexa, were born.
We lived for many years in London, where I wrote and illustrated my own books, and illustrated those of other authors (including my husband). Besides our annual travels to Greece and Switzerland, I’ve visited schools and conferences in many countries around the world.
We are now back in New York, close to our children and four beautiful grandchildren – Willa, Lucas, Kosmas, Estella, and our extended family – where my 60th book was published.
What a grateful, lucky life! I call it – like my books – Hard Fun.
Submitted by Aliki Liacouras Brandenberg