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The thoughts, musings, and recent blog posts on design thinking and communications, from the team at NDO*Creative.

NDO Podcast – Ep. 066 – Darlene Khoun – "Answers In The Dark"

On the NDO Podcast, we interview creative entrepreneurs on the story behind their particular craft, including their why, their how, and their influences.

This is a snippet of Episode 066 from the NDO* Podcast with Darlene Khoun: Graphic designer, spiritual guide at Husl + Flow, and boss at Unity Baking; these are just a few of the titles she holds. In this episode, we talk about the importance of finding yourself in the dark through sensory deprivation, how we approach movement as a culture and community, how Dar balances being an introvert with her life as a coach and business owner, and much more.


Ryan: I wanted to touch on something you mentioned: you come from a “fly-under-the-radar-backround” where you weren’t supposed to be loud, weren’t supposed to be expressive…I think that comes to us naturally as creative people, but also from cultural perspectives and expectations too.

I came up from a South American perspective where you had to fly low; get a job, get a partner early, follow the usual route. Did you just have that mentality as a creative or was it coming from other areas too? And if so, how did you overcome that?

Darlene: Great question. To be honest, I feel that it’s only more recently with spin I’ve finally started to break out of that [expectation]. That’s a 32 year journey. It was only until it was 30 that something clicked and I was able to

R: Woah, I thought you were like…25.

D: Asian genes!

R: (Laughter)

D: With Asian culture–especially with females–we’re told, y’know, to be “good Asian girls.” You maybe leave and get married – the standard – and along the way, obviously don’t be too loud, don’t shave your head, don’t do anything rebellious...

R: Shaved head GANG. 👨🏽‍🦲

D: I was a great child growing up: I stayed out of trouble, I never went to dances and parties – maybe two parties – because it just wasn’t my scene. I didn’t love high school and people my age, and I started to rebel partly because of that, and it wasn’t because I didn’t like learning…

I did it because I didn’t have a creative outlet.

R: I mean, all that energy has to go somewhere, right?

D: At the time, I didn’t know exactly why it was happening, but in the later parts of high school I started skipping. With the free time, I thought to myself: What do I really want to do?

I had a few uncles in Toronto that were designers and I always learned things from them, so I figured I’d try that. I started to take courses at KCI, I started to fall for design and I started going to clubs (underrage); there, you hear music and see visuals that are also related to design. All of those creative things became my outlets.

So I went to Conestoga College for design and believe I was actually a year above Kelsey Inkol, who was on your podcast, and she was right about the program; everything was meticulous and done by hand. We’re talking hours of 8pt font by your tech pencil…but it wasn’t undesirable for me. It actually got me into flow states with those thousands of hand drawn letters and got me into flow states.

Even through lettering, I found another outlet; with years of design, music, and dancing, I’ve slowly broken out my shell.

I cut off all my hair and nowadays I’m more apologetically myself.

R: That’s such a beautiful sentiment. Do you feel like that sense of becoming yourself was a bit-by-bit shedding process? Do you feel like there were layers and shells to get through?

D: Absolutely. It’s been little by little through dancing in front of others, through designing, through exploring music – it’s definitely bit by bit. I don’t care about what anyone thinks about me, and the more you do the things that scare you, the more you grow, learn, and explore, You have to keep pushing and trying new things.

R: I suppose it all feels a lot like Birdbox, haha.


For the full interview and more podcast episodes, hit the link below!

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Ryan AntooaComment