Do you have your cinnamon bun ready? Get comfortable, pull up a chair and enjoy a hot cup of coffee with none other than creative director and content creator Alen Palander. Get to know him as he shares some of his secrets on how to succeed as a creator plus different aspects of his life and how he’s gotten to the point he’s at right now. In our Fika series, we sit down and drink coffee with compelling creators and ask a wide range and variety of quick-fire questions.
Self-described as a “visual storyteller”, Toronto-based Alen says he could spend all day talking about architecture (and lets slip that if he didn’t work in content creation or on social media as a medium, he would for sure be in architecture in some form). “Ambitious” features as one of the three word he would pick to describe himself and he believes the best sound in the world, isn’t the click of a camera or a shot of espresso trickling into a ceramic mug, but something unusual like a thunderstorm or lightning strike.
One thing he couldn’t go for a day without? “Coffee!” so we sit down with Alen in Fikabaren in the Swedish capital, Stockholm for the most Swedish of rituals –– fika. A daily practice of meeting up over coffee and cake to catch-up away from the office or daily routine. Americano is his drink of choice (if you wondered) and Alen discloses that coffee is also the thing he spends way too much money on!
This year has been a big success for him so far when we catch up in the corner of the cafe, he’s just taken his niece and nephew on their first vacation ever, and he’s come to a big life decision to stay put in his city of Toronto rather than fly further afield. Having grown up in Iraq, talk turns to his childhood and he shares a memory he relives in his head a lot, where “I pushed my cousin (that was my age) off of a rooftop, maybe less than two stories, because he was looking over the edge and said ‘wouldn’t it be cool if you could fly?’ and as a five year-old your immediate thought shouldn’t be ‘well, you can go check it out yourself’ and just push him, but that’s what happened!”
YouTube, for Alen, was “a very spontaneous decision”, he explains, “I went on the platform and just started sharing videos of my travels and then I left the platform because I was a little bit confused with how I wanted to utilise it, and then my friends convinced me to get back on it and start pumping out content so people could learn a thing or two from me… At the time, YouTube meant a place that I could distract myself and learn a thing or two. But now it’s changed quite a bit for me, as an experience it’s a place where I can relieve a lot of my creative frustrations and share content online with people”. Alen continues by explaining that he really enjoys being able to share stories with people and getting to meet people across the world, adding “the one thing I’ve learned about any form of art is the reaction you get with it –– and having a dialogue around art is something I’ve been very vocal and advocating for, so it’s changed my life in many ways”.
Travel has a huge influence on the type of work Alen produces and filters through his content, as it’s his daily routine and he really enjoys it –– specifically if it’s about culture of discovering new places. Right now he’s working on creating a production company with a solid team of people and start tackling some bigger projects across the globe, plus has a five year plan (and a bit of an escape route too, in case he needs it!).
Keep watching for his three habits that will improve anyone’s life –– some food for thought for everyone!