2 Minutes With … Ulrika Karlberg, CCO of Yard NYC

Being a professional writer in a non-native language has served her well

Ulrika  is Yard NYC's first female CCO, appointed in May. With over a decade of experience, she has created campaigns for Adidas, HBO, Volvo, Walmart, PepsiCo, Wrangler and many more. 

Prior to joining Yard, Ulrika held senior slots at Droga5, Firstborn, Grey N.Y. and Forsman & Bodenfors. In addition to her current role, she serves as a creative consultant for the cannabis drinks and edibles company TBD.

We spent two minutes with Ulrika to learn more about her background, her creative inspirations and recent work she's admired.

Ulkrika, tell us ...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

In a tiny village in the south of Sweden called Bankeryd. Now I live in Bed-Stuy, in a slightly bigger village, Brooklyn.

How you first realized you were creative.

I don't think I ever had a realization about creativity per se. I just did a bunch of stuff and ended up where I ended up. I suppose I realized early that I was curious about a lot of things. It was hard for me to pick a lane. I wanted to do it all. But curiosity is usually a helpful tool for creatives. So here I am.

A person you idolized creatively early on.

I have always loved Astrid Lindgren of Pippi Longstocking. Her ability to build these detailed and vastly different worlds to house her stories is remarkable. They all feel incredibly familiar and fantastical at the same time.

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

When I got my first real boyfriend in high school and discovered that there was more to life than basketball, and abandoned my plans to become a professional hoops player. Thank you, Magnus. I owe you for life.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

The Velvet Underground. For how the members of the band were put together, their individual obsessions, skills and stories—plus Andy Warhol's input and his iron grip. And, of course, the music itself. Loaded must be one of the most immaculate albums in history. Mwah!

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

I recently watched the movie Belfast and was incredibly touched by it. It's such a small story—obviously in a larger and historically significant context—that was so well told. It made me sad. It made me happy. It was precise. It was tremendously human. I know it's a few years old, but it was a long time since I saw a movie that made me feel something like it did.

Your favorite fictional character.

Bridget Jones.

Someone or something worth following in social media.

I really enjoy the quiet musings of @samyoukilis on Instagram.

One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on. 

There have been many over the years but something that always makes me proud are the first couple of campaigns we did for Walmart fashion under the umbrella "We Dress America."

We based the idea on the simple fact that 90 percent of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart. Walmart literally dresses America, whether you like it or not. So, we gave Americans a reason to like it and celebrated American style across the entire country, enabled by a brand that most would never think to call a fashion destination. We worked with amazing photographers like Ryan McGinley to capture a diverse and extensive cast of real Americans, styled by heavy hitters like Beth Fenton and Heidi Bivens.

A recent project you're proud of. 

We created "Stop the Horror" around the midterms last fall—both to inspire people to vote as well as to raise money for Planned Parenthood. This internal project was a timely, important and urgent message executed with attention to craft and detail.

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.

This Volvo ad from ages ago—long before I got into advertising.

Someone else's work you admired lately.

I thought this trio collaboration was really fun. It just proves that doing things for the right reasons and allowing them to be a bit messy is deeply underrated and should be more of a conventionally adopted method for success.

Your main strength as a creative person.

Being a professional writer in a language that's not my native tongue has served me surprisingly well. It's forced me to ask for a lot of help and opinions and humbly accept that I really have not known what I've been talking about most of the time. I want to believe that I've cultivated a willingness to find things out and be proven wrong, which I think has helped me over the years. 

Your biggest weakness.

When I am convinced that I am right.

One thing that always makes you happy.

Being out on open water.

One thing that always makes you sad.

Thinking about Amy Winehouse's destiny always gets me in a sad state. She was an incredible artist.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.

I'd probably have stayed the course with law school and would currently be in one of those very high ponytails and an immaculate white blouse. Potentially there'd be a silk scarf around my neck—something with a muted color. 

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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