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Aliki Children’s Book Illustrator

May 22, 2017

Aliki Brandenberg is now 87. She has well over 60 books to her name and illustrates in a number of different styles. I love her fun simple lines and her textural work most of all. Aliki says “I write fiction out of a need to express myself. I write nonfiction—out of curiosity and fascination. And I draw in order to breathe.”

Born in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey, Aliki’s parents, were originally from Greece, and they taught her to speak Greek as a first language. She started to draw at an early age, and her parents enrolled her in art classes.

After graduating from the Philadelphia Museum School of Art in 1951, she worked briefly at the J. C. Penney Company in New York, in their display department. She then moved back to Philadelphia and worked as a freelance artist, creating art for advertising and display purposes. She also taught classes in art, worked as a muralist, and started a greeting card company.

In 1956 Aliki decided to explore her Greek heritage, as well as many other parts of Europe. During her travels she met Franz Brandenberg, whom she married the following year. After moving to Franz’s native Switzerland, she wrote her first book The Story of William Tell, about the legendary Swiss archer. The book, published in 1960, was well received. Aliki and her husband moved to New York, where she began in earnest her long career as an illustrator and author of books for children.

She has written and illustrated many books and she has also illustrated books for other authors, including her husband Franz Brandenberg. Her career as an author and illustrator led her to explore many subjects of historic and scientific interest. Her nonfiction books, either written by herself or by others, touch upon matters as varied as dinosaurs, mammoths, book manufacturing, Shakespeare, evolution, and growing up. Aliki’s fictional works explore such themes as family and friendship. Aliki’s Greek heritage is also a recurring theme in her works, both fiction and nonfiction.

I have two of her books which display both of her styles that really appeal to me. The first is called ‘The Listening Walk’.

It’s all about the sounds we hear when going for a walk if you listen closely.

I love the simple use of two colours (sometimes overlapping to create a fall on third colour) with black line and textural elements. These cars below are wonderful, you can just feel the speed !

Lovely detail and observations.

The second is called ‘My Five Senses’ and was part of the classic ‘Let’s read and find out Science book’ series.

Lots of textural rubbings, pattern and variation in line thicknesses and scale.

You can read more about her here.

She has been living and working in England since 1977, Aliki continues to produce new titles. “I’m one of those lucky people who love what they do,” she once commented. “I also love my garden, music, theatre, museums, and traveling. But I’m happiest when I’m in my studio on the top floor of our tall house in London, alone with the book I’m working on, and Mozart.”

If you like Aliki’s work, you may also like the work of Helen Borten and Abner Graboff, you can see many posts about these artists, by writing their names into the search function on my blog. Happy viewing.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. May 22, 2017 1:02 pm

    Thank you so much for introducing me to Aliki! I’ve seen some of her images before but was never able to place the artist. As a children’s illustrator myself these are so inspiring and are gold to me.

    • May 23, 2017 7:27 am

      Lovely to hear that Joanie, my aim is to inspire people with my findings so I feel my work has been done today : )

  2. May 22, 2017 8:11 pm

    My favourite thing about these illustrations are the use of the limited colour palette. When I am creating art, I find I am either super colourful and go crazy or else I really limit myself to one or two colours. I love the simplicity and challenge of the latter – plus it fits into my free time better.

    • May 23, 2017 7:29 am

      It seems that there was a trend in the 60’s to just print books with about three colours (and sometimes the fall on colours that their overlapping parts created) It works so well as you say, I can see the trend reappearing in kids books even now

  3. Ng Wye Wye permalink
    May 23, 2017 4:22 am

    Thanks for sharing this! I LOVE Aliki’s illustrations especially her earlier ones. I have a few of her older rarer books and if you like, I can share some of the images with you. Another illustrator which I hope you can feature one day, is Fiep Westendorp. Keep up the great work! I love your blog!

    • May 23, 2017 8:13 am

      Hi and thank you for your kind offer to share some of Aliki’s work with us, that would be great thank you, any images you take you can send to me here craig @ fishink.co.uk and i will add them to this post. I also like Fiep’s work and if I can get enough imagery together then one day, that will happen too. Thanks for your comments and for reading my blog.

  4. alibrookes permalink
    May 25, 2017 9:13 am

    Such wonderful, expressive characters! Pure joy!

  5. May 29, 2017 7:42 pm

    Such a feast for the eyes

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