Always a Voice for Students

Imua ʻIolani

Always a Voice for Students

Imua ʻIolani

Always a Voice for Students

Imua ʻIolani

10,000 Hours: Robb Armstrong’s Path to Artistic Mastery

Mr. Robb Armstrong inspires students in his Chapel speech.

The Peanuts “Welcome Home, Franklin” recently had its debut on Apple TV+ on February 16th, 2024. This special follows Franklin Armstrong, the first Black character in the Peanuts franchise, one of the most famous comic strips in America. It tells the story of Franklin’s struggle to make friends when he moves into a new neighborhood. Franklin’s last name is in honor of Mr. Robb Armstrong who helped co-write the new show. 

Mr. Armstrong is the cartoonist of the acclaimed comic strip, Jump Start, which tells everyday stories of a Black family in Philadelphia. He started his journey as an artist when he was enrolled in an out of school extracurricular program at the Philadelphia College of Art. He later graduated from the Shipley School in Pennsylvania after completing a demanding art program where he was inspired to develop his individual art style. Mr. Armstrong moved on to Syracuse University in New York and designed his first comic strip for the school’s newspaper. This later provided the basis for him to start his comic, Jump Start

‘Iolani School recently welcomed Mr. Armstrong to our community as a guest speaker in chapel, Lower School, and the AP African American Studies class, where he shared insights on his life and candidly shared how he overcame his personal challenges. Gabby Kim ’27 says, “I feel like I’ve been pretty cushioned my entire life, and hearing him talk about the obstacles he’s had to overcome just really pushed forth this motivation— he was able to find such purpose through his art, and there was definitely that message that any one of us could easily replicate that with our own life. You could tell he was a very charismatic speaker, which really added this dynamic element, felt among the audience.” Mr. Armstrong’s speech left a strong imprint on students to pursue and master their skills despite any adversity they face. He left his mark across ‘Iolani by demonstrating his artistic skills and relating his life to a bible verse, all while inspiring both students and faculty. Mr. Armstrong explained his mission to motivate students: “In terms of what I’m here to do in the world, I’m here to inspire other people, especially other kids. So being at the ‘Iolani School is actually in some ways more important or more special than any of those other things. This is a tremendous opportunity. This week has been unforgettable.” 

Mr. Armstrong first designed his comic, Jump Start, after graduating from Syracuse University in New York. He describes the rough process of creating his praised comic, saying, “I don’t want to make it sound like it was a fast thing overnight. It wasn’t a week or month, or a year. It was years and years of changing. Years of dealing with rejection. For anything in the arts, like cartoonists, dancers, singers, writers, poets…You have to understand that rejection is designed into it. It’s a part of it. It’s not something to stop you. It’s the rejection that gets you better.” Although his comic is currently extremely successful, Mr. Armstrong reminds readers that they can’t reach their goals without running into some setbacks. In the past, his comics and ideas had been shot down by numerous companies and streaming services, but he continued to persevere and never stopped working to improve his craft. Mr. Armstrong says, “You have to just keep challenging yourself. It’s not that important that you listen to people who don’t like it, but you have to understand that art isn’t a destination. Art is a journey. You’re never going to arrive at a final destination. You just keep going. Pushing yourself. Trying new things.”

Mr. Armstrong teaches that anyone can master any skill they desire if they put enough time into it and never give up. His consistent pursuit of improving his craft contributed to his accomplishments as a cartoonist. As students reflect on Mr. Armstrong’s visit, they are reminded to be resilient and persevere even when facing rejection. Whether it’s sports, performance, art or anything in between, students can make their own success through devotion and hard work. “I’m talking about 10,000 hours…10,000 hours makes you a master. You put 10,000 hours of practice into basketball, you’re going to sink a lot of shots. You put 10,000 hours into martial arts, you’re going to kick a lot of butt. You put 10,000 hours into cartooning, you can change the world.”

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About the Contributors
Naomi N., Staff

Hi, my name is Naomi and I am in ninth grade. This is my tenth year at ‘Iolani and my second year in Imua Newsroom. I joined Imua as an eighth grader last year because I wanted to explore new electives and strengthen my writing abilities. Moreover, I was interested in photography and reaching out of my comfort zone. I discovered that not only my interest in taking pictures grew, but so did my confidence to host interviews with ‘Iolani faculty. One fun fact about me is that I was born in New York, moved to California, and settled in Hawai‘i when I was four years old. I am excited to start a new year in Imua!

Naomi M., Managing Editor Shadow
Hi! My name is Naomi Matsuura and this is my second year in Imua Newsroom. I joined last year to improve my writing skills and I’m continuing into my Freshman year since it gives me the opportunity to learn skills such as photography and design. This year, I’ll be the managing editor shadow. A fun fact about me is I have two cats named Phil and Lizzie.

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