Ulrika, also known as Uli, is a wondrous photographer and illustrator who currently resides in Sweden. Her photography brings me back to childhood, rich with story and folktales. I love reading her blog. Here is an interview I had with Uli recently:
1. Uli, please tell us about your background. Where did you come from? What is your background?
I was born in Latvia were I lived in a block like JLo but it was next to a forest and we had a beautiful Irish setter so I was really happy. I strolled around alone in the forest from when I was like two years old. However, when I was four years old the fairytale kind of ended when we moved to Sweden. I’ve lived here since then.
2. What is the first moment you realized that you were a creative person?
I’ve always liked drawing. That I knew at an early age, probably before I was ten years old. My dad is really good at drawing so I was inspired by him.
I got into photography when I was twelve. I was sort of an ugly duckling after turning 11, so when I was 12 and shot a self-portrait were I didn’t look like an ugly duckling I was amazed by the wonders of a photograph.
3. How do you balance working on photography and illustration? Which do you like more?
Tough question… I think I like photography more since I’m better at it than drawing. Also, you can make a beautiful photograph rather quickly while drawing a beautiful illustration takes days. When I was studying photography drawing was a great way to clear my mind. To stay creative but in another way. Other students just hung in front of Facebook when they weren’t inspired. You should always keep creating, in some form. Like if you’re a writer and you’re stuck or uninspired, create something other with your hands. Play around with ceramics, built a fort in the forest, bake a lovely looking bread etc.
Also, illustrating helps me create some of the world I can’t with photography. I can get closer to the fairytales in my mind.
4. Looking through your work I see a theme of folklore and fairy tales. I have a strong suspicion that your life is magical. True or false?
Haha, true in some matters. I’ve grown up with a mother that looks like a nymph, with long blond hair and a heart of gold. As I said earlier I’ve been close to animals and the forest all my life. On weekends when my classmates stay in hungover I always head out to the forest. I am very much still a child in my mind and I think it’s therefore easier for me to stay in a fairytale. I love drawing and photographing animals and in school I often head down to the workshop and carve out a fox in wood when I have some spare time. I mostly just wear dresses and I’ve always had long hair. Also, after high school I studied photography for two years in Lofoten in Norway which is truly a fairytale place. With northern lightning, killer whales, giant mountains, snowstorms and abandoned villages.
5. What exciting project are you working on now?
I’m creating a calendar for 2012 out of my foxdrawings. I started a photoproject called “Daydream”, which is pretty much about my own daydreams. In every photo there is a new girl and some sort of animal. I wanted to use larger animals for the project but I’ve been having trouble finding people who are willing to borrow their pets. But I’m not giving up yet 🙂
And also I’ve written my first children’s book and hopefully I will be done with the illustrations for it by christmas – let’s hope!
6. Do you listen to music while you are illustrating? If so, what are you digging currently?
When drawing I like to listen to Velvet Underground, Gotan Project and various soundtracks…like The Darjeeling Limited soundtrack or the soundtrack for Pan’s Labyrinth for example.
7. Lastly, what is the meaning to life?
Stay true to who you are, be as happy as you can and enjoy all the beautiful things there are to see, feel, hear, smell and taste on the planet.
(Example: Watch the northern lightning, pet a soft bunny and swim in a calm lake, eat Italian chocolate ice-cream, smell freshly baked bread and listen to an old music box)