Six Bomb Boards: Alex Robinson

Throughout April Octane is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Kentucky’s elite group of comic art creators, the SIX BOMB BOARDS. Get to know them and celebrate with them on Avengers Day at the Six Bomb Boards LiveArt Con at Movie Tavern April 27, 2019 from noon to 8pm.

Your name:
Alex Rhys

Your published credits: 
Bingo Love: Jackpot Edition, Cash & Carrie Book 2, Robin & Cat: Falling In Like With You (self-published)

Where do you live:
Junction City, KY

Your current project(s):
Robin & Cat, my ongoing LGBT romance webcomic.

Website for readers to find out more about you:
Twitter: @robinandcat
Instagram: @heypizzaking

When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics as a career?

Like just about every artist ever, I’ve been drawing all my life. But it wasn’t until, like…2013? 2014? Around that time that I wanted to create comics for a living. It was around the time I found out who Harvey Pekar was and watched “American Splendor”. I was also big into Daniel Clowes at the time, and I picked up the “Daniel Clowes Reader”. Both of these things, the movie about Pekar’s life and the book discussing Clowes’ work, showed me that a life in comics was possible. That I could tell my own stories and it didn’t have to be about superheroes. And that even if the life isn’t glamorous, it’s fulfilling.

Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?

Easy answer is my parents. They never scoffed at me for taking art classes in school, and going into an arts field in college. They even encouraged it. I think they knew I wouldn’t be happy with anything else. The “I really had to think about this” answer is Satoshi Kon, the animation director. He was pushing his field further than anyone else at the time. And when he died, it brought me to tears. There was like this connection, and it made me realize how little time we might have. So draw, write, and create with the days we’ve got.

Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?

There are two…no, three people who have helped me tremendously. The first is Johnathon O. Rose-Lyon, who has been a fountain of encouragement and knowledge. He wrote some comics like Neon Noir and Superhuman…they’re really great! The second is Justin Stewart, the master of Six Bomb Boards! Thanks to him, I’ve found my community, and he’s always pushed me to go out there with my ideas. And number three is Shawn Pryor. He has taught me so much about having confidence in what you do, and to go after what you want. He’s my friend, and he believe in my work, so I have to believe, too! I wouldn’t have had the chances I’ve had in the comics industry without him.

What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?

When nothing is going right creatively, then I zone out with a video game. Usually a classic JRPG like a Final Fantasy, or a fun, relaxing game like Kirby or Animal Crossing. But sometimes I have to throw myself into something new to get the creative juices flowing. Like watch a horror movie that would have scared the Baby Alex from 5 years ago. Or read a new manga series because the art looks cool.

Describe your typical work routine.

I have a full-time day job, so the comic work is all done in the evenings and weekends. I post new pages of Robin & Cat on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so each week’s pages have to be done on Monday and Wednesday respectively. Thursday and Friday are veg days after the comic posts. I’ll do either nothing or draw something just for me. Then Saturday and Sunday is writing and drawing time wherever I can fit it in. Usually with plenty of samurai and anime movie breaks.

What tools do you use to create comics and what makes them the “right tools” for you?

I mostly work traditional. Pencil, paper, ink. For my comic, I color digitally, but for everything else I color with copic markers, paint…I’ve been really into white gel pens lately. They add a nice after effect to traditional work. But at the moment, I’ve been experimenting with adding more of the impressionist-esque painting style I do at Live Arts with what I usually do at home with copic markers. I’m having a lot of fun blending it together!

What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?

Trying something new, and it actually working, is the biggest joy I get from my work. Experimenting with style and tools is a lot of fun. But when it comes to my comic, Robin & Cat, it comes from seeing someone totally get what you’re saying. If they felt the emotion I was going for, then I’m doing something right.

What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why?

It has definitely been Robin & Cat, my webcomic. It just reached it’s 5th birthday of being published online. I’ve never seen anything through this long. And I’ve met so many incredible people from this project! It’s really changed my life.

We’ve seen very talented newcomers who are trying to get their first professional projects. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator?

In the immortal words of Jake the Dog: “sucking at something is the first step towards being sorta good at something.” Just start that thing you’ve wanted to work on! It will probably be bad! But the more practice you put in, the better you get. And find your community. Find people who can help you find what you’re great at, critiques what needs improvement, and lifts you up to doing better.

Let’s get deep: What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?

Failure isn’t the end. You’re going to fail. A lot. But that’s how you learn and grow. So don’t be afraid to mess up a lot. Because a bad drawing is just a first draft of a good drawing.

Six Bomb Boards Feature: Joshua Penrose

Throughout April Octane is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Kentucky’s elite group of comic art creators, the SIX BOMB BOARDS. Get to know them and celebrate with them on Avengers Day at the Six Bomb Boards Con at Movie Tavern April 27, 2019 from noon to 10pm.

Your name:
Josh Penrose

Your published credits:
None in the comic world, I have diagrams in a science journal out there.

Where do you live:
Lexington, KY

When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics as a career? 

I never thought of it as a career.  I did run the comic book club while I was in college and we published some anthology stuff as a collective.  We also participated in some 24 hour challenges.  Recently I have just done some stuff with comics like promo art for a friend but nothing too much like a career.

Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?  As far as influence on my life I would have to say my partner Mouse.  She constantly pushes me to keep creating and supports me when I am feeling down on my art.  Not to mention supporting me on my career choice which is not always easy.

Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?

As far as artists that influence me I have a couple:Frank Miller:  The art in Sin City really made me want to work in the high contrast style that I am currently exploring.Alan Moore:  His writing and strict devotion to his creations is an inspiration.  To be able to write fiction based on fictional characters being brought together is impressive.  His work has always entertained me and I could reread any of it over and over.Ralph Steadman: My favorite artist of all time.  I grew up loving the Gonzo art and later became completely enthralled with anything he created from children’s books, artwork, political cartoons, to his writing.  He will always be an inspiration to keep working on my style.

What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?

Coffee.  I am a big time coffee drinker.  Even the act of making the coffee has some recharging power for me.

Describe your typical work routine. 

Sitting down in front of my pencils.  Looking confused at my pencils.  Putting ink to the paper.  Messing up that ink.  Not caring that I messed up.  Moving on to the next one.  Inking is my favorite part and I often just go for it no matter how confusing I made my pencils.

What tools do you use to create comics and what makes them the “right tools” for you? 

INK!  I use ink and brush while at home mostly.  When I do events like live art I move to markers.  I found some markers that I really like UNI Posca’s.  I burn through so much ink though that I have gotten used to re-filling them with Montana inks.  Really for me any tool has a purpose and it is just waiting to be found.

What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction? 

It’s hard to describe this.  Once a piece is finished there is joy that it is finished but the real satisfaction I think comes from making it.  That being said I don’t like doing pencils so I guess the REAL satisfaction is when I can finally put ink to the paper.

Josh Penrose

What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why? 

If I were to look at my career in terms of my art I would think that the most rewarding part is when I see people post pictures of my art hanging in their house, or hearing that people were very happy with their gift (my art).

We’ve seen very talented newcomers who are trying to get their first professional projects. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator? 

Keep creating.  It’s hard to stay positive but the real truth is that you need to keep creating.

Let’s get deep: What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important? 

To let the past happen and not keep it in the present.  Learn and move forward, always forward.

That and, always have an out.

Six Bomb Boards Feature: Justin Stewart

Throughout April Octane is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Kentucky’s elite group of comic art creators, the Six Bomb Boards. Get to know them and celebrate with them on Avengers Day at the Six Bomb Boards Con at Movie Tavern April 27, 2019 from noon to 10pm.

Throughout April Octane is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Kentucky’s elite group of comic art creators, the Six Bomb Boards. Get to know them and celebrate with them on Avengers Day at the Six Bomb Boards Con at Movie Tavern April 27, 2019 from noon to 10pm.

Your name:
Justin Stewart

Your published credits:
Bleed Leaders, Kentucky Kaiju, Grrl Scouts: Magic Socks, Avengers Vs X-Men, Howard the Human, Marijuanaman, Miami Vice: Remix

Where do you live:
Nicholasville, KY

Your current project(s) that we should mention:
Currently promoting ‘Bleed Leaders’ which was completed and published in October 2018.

Website for readers to find out more about you:

Justin3000 on Twitter

justin3000stewart on IG

Justin3000 on FB

When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics as a career?

When I saw a “How To” article in Wizard magazine in the late 90’s. It went over how to copy and collate your own mini-comic. Coincidentally that article was written and drawn by Jim Mahfood, who was, and still is, my art hero who I’ve collaborated on tons of stuff with.

Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?

That’s tough. My initial instinct is to say “my father”, but that’s a whole other thing. So keeping it in entertainment, I’d probably say OutKast? 🙂 The way those dudes came up showed me you can start with whatever you have and make it all the way to wherever it is you want to go. Also, I totally bit the “3000” in my brand from Andre 3000. 😀

Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?

Jim Mahfood (aka foodone) without a doubt. He was an art hero of mine before I ever knew him personally and he didn’t disappoint when I did get to know him. He showed me that you can take on the client work, but still do your own thing and still have a thriving career. He taught me that “people will come to you” if you focus on making stuff you enjoy and stuff you want to see out in the world.

What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?

I become completely sedentary and just read and watch movies and shows. You can’t exhale if you don’t inhale, right? 🙂 So when I’m drained creatively, I just accept it and plop down on the couch and watch something I’ve been meaning to or I’ll crack open that book I’ve been chipping away at. And on occasion I’ll have a few beers then go into my basement and dance like I’m on Broadway.

Describe your typical work routine.

I have a part-time day job, so that’s over at noon everyday. Then I’ll go home, eat some lunch, fix some coffee and head to the studio to work until my daughter gets home from school around 3. Then later that night after she and my wife have headed off to bed, I’ll go back to work for an hour or so, mainly just checking over what I did earlier that day. I think it’s super important to push away from the table and let something sit for a while before you send it to the client or consider it “final”.

What tools do you use to create comics and what makes them the “right tools” for you?

Pencil, ink, paint, markers, crayons, chalk, desktop computer, Photoshop, iPad, Procreate; basically whatever I think is gonna work for the thing I wanna do. Sometimes it’s all digital, sometimes all analog, but most of the time it’s a Frankenstein’d combo of both to varying degrees.

What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?

Two things actually: When something comes out onto the paper that’s exactly what I saw in my head and when something happens as I’m working that Bob Ross called “happy accidents”. It’s when you make a mark or stroke that you didn’t intend to make but ultimately makes the art so much better. I like to think that our subconscious knows more than we do, so on occasion it’ll take over and be like, “Nah, you’re overthinking homie. Here, let me take this one.”

What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why?

That’d be ‘Kentucky Kaiju’. It was a book I concepted and had my three friends and fellow creators, Shawn Pryor, Tressina Bowling, and Jason Sizemore help make a reality. Jason is publisher and EiC of Apex Book Company. He reached out and asked, “You wanna do a comic for me?” I immediately replied, “No. Comics are fuckin hard and take forever. I have an idea about giant monsters tho.” I pitched it, he gave the thumbs up, I hit up Shawn and Tressa and we all made a dope thing! 🙂

We’ve seen very talented newcomers who are trying to get their first professional projects. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator?

“Make friends in the place you wanna be because no one succeeds alone” Connect with people who are on your similar path. They don’t all have to be drawing or painting or doing what you’re doing either. If you’re a painter, hook up with a musician or filmmaker, and vice versa. If you’re being creative and making things, then the commonalities will transcend the particulars. You’ll find common ground with anyone else who’s creating regardless.

Let’s get deep: What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?

See question 9. 🙂 But I’ll tack onto that; It’s okay to have lulls in your creativity and career. We’re all humans and we all need both downtime and uptime. So don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t posted a new drawing/song/design in a few days. When you have something to say, that’s when you say it. Don’t just make noise.

Body Positivity Does Not Happen Overnight

Featuring Guest Blogger Aisha Nwandu

Sometimes, I hate my body. There, I said it. It feels great to get it out. But then i feel guilty. I was never heavy set. I was a size small & curvy, weighed about 55 kg throughout high school. Hell, I was nominated best body at some point (LOL, the things you remember) but i was never active or cared much about the things i put in my body. I just never ate much. Mostly because i was in a boarding school and the food was horrible. It was either you eat what was offered or go hungry. So naturally, most of us were losing weight or maintaining the same weight we had.

Now fast forward to my arrival to the United States, the land of fast food and busy workload. I was convinced I still could not gain weight because college is stressful enough, no way that stress will let me gain much weight. Boy was i fooling myself. The first 2 years was fine, i was still maintaining my weight but then my junior year of college, i was going through so much and was depressed so where did i turn to? You guessed it, emotional eating. I will binge eat indi’s fried chicken at 1am in the morning 3 nights straight. My heaven was greasy food and i could not get enough.

I look into the mirror sometimes and i don’t even recognize the person staring back at me. I am currently a size medium to large and i have some cool folds in my belly. I had to get rid of most of my clothes because they just do not fit the way they used to. I have tried looking into weight loss programs but most of them just do not work with my lifestyle or they are literally trying to get me to starve myself. I also just do not have the discipline to workout, eat clean and healthy and maintain a healthy lifestyle. So, I know there are solutions, i just need to work on them.

Body positivity is not easy. Whenever i talk about my body, people’s response is “well you know what to do to fix it, sooo.” If only they knew that it was not that easy. See, I need to lose weight because i want to, because i need to be healthier but i also need to love my body the way it is right now because losing weight might not fix how i see myself. This is very psychological and that’s where body positivity and body love comes from. If you do not love your body in its imperfection, what makes you think you will ever love it when it transforms to something else? You need to love your body in every single stage it is in because our bodies change, they will continue to change and we have to change our mind set along with them.

Below, i will share a couple of ways in which i have decided to celebrate my body this year and practice a healthier lifestyle.

  1. I am going to invest in clothes that make me feel good, in clothes that fit my body and not waste my time buying clothes a size smaller so i can “lose weight and fit into them”
  2. I am definitely going to stop weighing myself constantly because those are just numbers. I am going to focus on how i feel, how my body moves, how active i am, how much better i am doing in learning the yoga poses etc.
  3. I am going to unfollow any accounts that make me feel terrible about myself. I am going to follow accounts that make me feel amazing about my body.
  4. I am going to take more pictures and not worry about how my body looks, i am going to love my glowing skin, the amazing colors in the pictures, the background and most of all preserve the memory in the picture.
  5. I am not going to beat myself up about eating a cookie every now and then. I am looking for a balance and not a do or die diet.

I know i have not been very good to my body over the years but I am learning how to take care of her, how to nurture her and i am unlearning every negative thing i have learned about her. I sometimes hate my body but i am getting to know her again and i am learning to love her again. Body positivity does not happen overnight, it is a process and a journey.

Aisha Nwandu is a Nigerian lifestyle blogger focusing on personal growth. She wants to inspire and encourage people through her personal experiences to keep working on themselves and understand that personal growth is vital to living a great life. She is also the founder of Kentucky Bloggers. A community she created to connect and promote bloggers, influencers and content creators based in Kentucky. You can find her on all social media platforms Aishadaobi and her website is When she is not busy creating content for her social media pages, you can find her at home, cuddled up with a good book and some tea or catching up on her favorite tv shows.

Self Love Series: Your Why

Welcome to Octane’s Self Love Blog Series! This series is a collection of 4 posts from an array of guest bloggers focusing on the concept of loving yourself beyond the month of February. 

Week 4: Your Why

When I think about my most peaceful and fun memories in my life you would automatically think I think of those times as self care and love but I also take time to look at the times I felt uncomfortable, stretched, down and out, and away from my comfort zone. Those are all self-love and care as well. Why? These are the times I have felt the most growth in my personal and professional life.

Sure I love to treat myself and having a hot bath in peace and quiet is the best but when it all boils down to it a lot of my self love and care rewarding came from the struggling that happened before hand. Recently I was promoted to a new position at the company I work for. It came with a lot of stress and IM STILL STRESSED. But it hasn’t made me stop wanting to grow.

I haven’t necessarily had a lot of time for reward and trying to balance a career, family, friends, and a side business/project has been a difficult task but I am not giving up. If I could offer one piece of advance for someone who is constantly busy and may not have time to stop for much needed self care and love would be to write down goals and when you accomplish them pat yourself on the back! Buy yourself something or just take a nap.

Rest your mind from all of the days thoughts and just start fresh because what selfcare and love boils down to is you! No one can take care of you like you can yourself!

Betsy is 35, an EKU graduate with Bachelors of Arts in Sociology and Minor in Womens studies. She is currently a Sales Manager for Galls LLC in the Lexington Ky Corporate office. She is also one of the co-creators of The Black Route– a business helping route you to black owned businesses and events in Kentucky and surrounding states. The Black Routes online presence is mostly through social media such as Instagram and Facebook. They are always willing to get the word out about your business or event. Betsy is a lover of all things natural for hair and skin!

For product recommendations follow her on Instagram: @Heavens2betsie

I would have to say Self-care and Self-love are things I live by heavily. It always makes me feel better that I know I have my own back and am completely aware of when I need to stop, focus, and take a little down time. I’m pretty happy with the journey I am on right now and look forward to meeting lots of people out there who have the same mindset.

Self Love Series: Learning To Let Go Of What Controls You

Welcome to Octane’s Self Love Blog Series! This series is a collection of 4 posts from an array of guest bloggers focusing on the concept of loving yourself beyond the month of February. 

Week 3: Letting Go of What Controls You

Og Mandino, once said this:

‘many of us never realize our greatness because we become sidetracked by secondary activities. We don’t know how to say ‘no’, and now we’re behind on our dreams.’

Does this sound familiar? I think we’ve all been there, including myself.

As females we’re the caretakers of the world. We skillfully juggle home, work, community and leave very little time for ourselves.  How do you know when it’s time to ask for help? For me personally, I started to become mentally fatigued and overly anxious. My inner self was giving subtle warning signs, that I thankfully slowed down to listen too. During this time of self-examination, I learned WHAT I needed assistance with. I learned to delegate task both at home and within my business. This taught me that I’m not a superwoman and in life we all need an extra pair of hands.

What is your inner dialogue currently telling you?  Is it saying ‘yes I can, I know I can? The type of conversations we have with ourselves will determine our quality of life. Unfortunately, we at times see the worse version ourselves.  We must learn to how to empower ourselves and STAND UP to our inner voices. This is another way of letting go of fear. The fear of failure, the fear of not measuring up.

Self -care is NOT selfish. It’s you and I becoming more aware of our needs, limitations, growth, and taking time to love ourselves. We can’t pour from an empty cup. We have to fill our own cup first.  Don’t give up on your dreams. Love yourself. I encourage you to celebrate the small victories. Be conscious of how you feel when you’re around people or in certain situations. There are many ways to say ‘no’. Once you become more comfortable within yourself in saying this, your world will change. This one day may be a lifesaver.  

In the words of Maya Angelou, ‘Just like moons and like suns, with the certainty of tides, just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise.’

Melanie Day is an educator, entrepreneur and small business owner opening Lexington Kentucky’s first salon for curly hair, You’ve Got Curls. Find her on instagram a @ugotcurls or follow the salon on Facebook.

Self Love Series: Tips on Self Care

Welcome to Octane’s Self Love Blog Series! This series is a collection of 4 posts from an array of guest bloggers focusing on the concept of loving yourself beyond the month of February. 

Week 2: Tips on Self Care

“Put yourself at the top of your to-do list every single day and the rest will fall into place.” – Unknown

I never realized the importance of self-care until I was responsible for another human life. Now that I’m a single mom with almost ten years of skin in the game, I am cognizant of the fact that taking care of myself is not only something good to do, but necessary for my and our survival. I want to share a little insight and a few things I have learned along my journey to take better care of and appreciate myself.

# 1 – You can’t pour from an empty cup. This is the exact reason why when you’re listening to those redundant in-flight safety demos, they explicitly tell you to secure your own oxygen mask and life vest before helping anyone else with theirs. You simply can’t give what you don’t have. The several times I have tried to give from a dry well, I was filled with resentment, anger and frustration. When I’m able to give from a full cup with love, peace and gratitude I am able to give my best self.

#2 – Make yourself a priority. Take time daily to cultivate and nurture your own spirit and your own interests. Before you are an employee, an entrepreneur, a mom, a dad, a friend, a wife, a girlfriend or insert various descriptors here _____, you are you. A living, breathing human being with basic physiological needs, wants and desires. A person who grapples with their own demons and downfalls. Take time to stay grounded and in touch with yourself. That could be as simple as journaling (my favorite pastime), dancing to music, taking a short drive alone, listening to your favorite podcast, reading a book for pleasure or simply staying at home in solitude and recharging.

#3 – Self-care is not always Instagram fabulous. When I thought about self-care in the past, I conjured up visions of lying on the beach in Bali, copious amount of drinks at an all-inclusive resort or sippin’ hot cocoa in a tucked away Tennessee cabin. While those are certainly appropriate ways to spoil and care for yourself, there are no rules that say a get away is the fix all for your self-care needs. The care of self includes but is not limited to enjoying time with and by yourself, working out, journaling, praying and taking periods of mental rest.

#4 Get real with yourself. While I truly enjoy and promote positivity, sometimes self-care is about having an honest talk with yourself and doing better. It can be about looking at the cold, hard facts and making the necessary adjustments to yourself and aspects of your life accordingly. Living in your truth is a very important aspect of being your best self. If you don’t tell yourself the truth and work on bettering who you are, no one can do it for you. This includes but is not limited to: removing toxic people and habits from your life, spending time on personal development, therapy, mental health days and nurturing positive and healthy relationships in your life.

#5 Moving your body is caring for yourself. This is one I’m making a more concerted effort to execute as I type this. I have always struggled with my weight and one thing I will say is that when I was mindful of what I consumed and was working out several times a week, I was not only in peak physical shape, but my mind was sharp as well. I understand that everyone has various abilities out there and that is ok, but start somewhere and do what you can. It has been proven over and over the overall health and life benefits of being physically active. If you don’t know how to start, just do baby steps and start with a five minute walk daily. Focus on progress not perfection.

Self-care is not something that comes easy for most of us. We are so used to being caregivers and expending our energy for others that it feels selfish and sometimes wrong to focus on ourselves. This is a situation where being selfish is good. Just remember that when you are and present as the best version of yourself, you share your very best self and gifts to the world.

Cicely is a mom, nurse student, MUA and blogger behind @bougiebeautybabe. When not the co-host of the #MoreThanGraphics podcast Cicely is raising curiosity and exploration within her beloved son Liam. Follow her on Instagram.

Self Love Series: Confidence

Welcome to Octane’s Self Love Blog Series featuring topics that encourage you to love yourself.

Welcome to Octane’s Self Love Blog Series! This series is a collection of 4 posts from an array of guest bloggers focusing on the concept of loving yourself beyond the month of February. 

Week 1 topic: Confidence

This particular topic was one I had an instant knee-jerk reaction to as I prepped for this series. Mostly because I have recently rediscovered a new sense of confidence in myself. 

When I think of confidence I think of my “board of directors” or people that would advise me to be my best self, from a recent exercise I completed from Coach Colene’s (author of  Monday Morning Pep Talks) recent Vision 2019 7-day facebook challenge. 

I knew I had to have Steve Jobs, Oprah and Michelle Obama on board because these are icons and visionaries that deeply impact my day to day thoughts and processes. 

Each of them carry there own swagger and there own convictions making them universally known. 

Is that what confidence is? The ebb and flow of swag and convictions?

Recently I got to listen to the latest episode of Equipped with Purpose podcast with special guest marketing strategist Kevin Jennings who spoke on confidence. (Long story short, his wife is my old college pal and I had the pleasure of designing there wedding invitations oh so long ago.)

He too shared his own definition of confidence and dropped a SERIOUS dose of truth that had me in deep reflection: your purpose gives you confidence.

As a graphic designer of 10 years (dear lord that’s weighty when you type it out) that seems easy but you’d have to define your purpose beforehand. 

10 years ago my purpose was the hustle of the almighty dollar. I was young and a single mom stretching every cent.  Five years ago, I began to mature that purpose into relationships and meaningful storytelling of voices unseen or unheard. And now, all I want to do is pass the baton and amplify my mic for others. 

I was hesitant every step of the way.

In further listening to Kevin’s response to him asking his clients “why do you trust me”, he quoted a book, Anything You Want, that I too had read not too long ago by Derek Sivers.

“What’s simple to you is amazing to others.” 

Boom. It hit me again. 

I can distinctly remember reading that quote and thinking all the way back to impromptu working sessions with my colleague and best friend Samantha Johnson of SamanhattanPR. She would always snap at me when my self confidence was low. Usually about how I could simply whip up a complete business branding concept in a matter of hours and have a fully designed soft launch waiting within a day or two. 

“No one can do what you do” she would say. It didn’t seem miraculous to me. 

Fast forward to now and I can tell you I was created to create. Through trial and circumstance its the only constant to the deepest self fulfillment in connecting with others the way my faith is connected to me.

That’s purpose. 

Through my faith I’m a part of a bigger story. And each has its own role to play. And in it others depend on me being at my best to be at there best. In fact it is a disservice to my faith in the growth of others to not do what fulfills me. 

So where does confidence begin?

It comes from knowing & reintroducing yourself.
It comes from knowing where you’ve been and where you want to go. 
Its accepting that you don’t have it all figured out and could fail anyway. 
It’s knowing who you are after you fall. 
It’s knowing you’re not alone. 

To love oneself is to know thyself. 

Confidence is a huge reflection of loving yourself and overtime becomes the gift that keeps on giving. 

Danielle is the owner of branding agency Octane Design Studios where she designs and strategizes for brands full time. When not working she enjoys time with her three boys and beloved husband. She’s a MMA fan, mentor and educator. Follow her at @octanedesigns. 

Octane Announces New Podcast in 2019

In October 2009 Octane began its first year of business which means this year we’ll celebrate 10 years of service. 10 years! I see this as a HUGE victory lap in the evolution of business growth. More than anything (pun intended) I wanted to find a way to share the wisdom and pitfalls Octane endured to new businesses and entrepreneurs making there mark. 

To kick off this NEXT chapter of Octane, I wanted to find a way to celebrate the relationships and the projects over the years as a catalyst to reach out and unify a bigger community of creatives that both love there craft and struggle finding and identifying themselves within community. 

What better way then a podcast?!

But why #morethangraphics? Was this not a giant promo ad for myself? Isn’t that a lil selfish?

My life philosophy evolved into my hashtag #MoreThanGraphics. It’s a realization that regardless of my near robotic pushing out of digital content that I am more than a designer, mom and wife. That in fact I’m a storyteller, a reformed harlot and community unifier that has the ability to change the world everyday.

I know so many others that relate to this, who could use the reminder that they are more than just the sum of there creative output or life achievements.

That’s the internal whisper I wanted the heart of the show to echo to all creatives, but especially to women who need to hear this most.


Developing the Idea

But whom to ask to bring for the ride? It became a serious and distant prayer throughout the year until October when this ‘nudge’ hit me again. I began to randomly ask friends to dinner to pick there brain about this ‘podcast idea.’

In this process I wasn’t looking for who was popular and who was the funniest. I was looking for a feeling that encompassed what this show is all about.  

While I did ask others, the feeling was strongest with two amazing ladies who immediately was down for the ride and clicked together in nothing short of a miraculous sign that we were meant to do this together.


Brittany Robinson

Meet Brittany 

I’ve known Brittany for years but it wasn’t until recently that we’ve bonded as creatives, leaders and wives.  

When I asked Brittany about what this means to her, her response was literally poetic:

Inclusive innovation and creativity are powerful ways to foster hope and transform communities. This podcast empowers and celebrates our community’s up and coming talents and thought leaders. We aim to create space at the table for women (and men) of all colors, orientations, and backgrounds to honestly discuss, engage, network, and find their tribe. There are so many people doing big, soulful, inspiring work and we can’t wait to amplify their voices.

I’m so excited for the conversations and the guests that she’s been inspired  by to be on the show. Brittany is my guns blazing “iron sharpens iron” woman that really emphasizes exploration of all sides of conversation. 

I love her for it. Go get your own Brittany!


Meet Cicely 

Cicely Carter

Cicely was among the women I had dinner with in the planning stages of this podcast. As long time social media friends and journalists (both of us studied journalism in college) we bonded on several things. I love that we’re both moms of kids that are ‘outside the box’ and we both come from a threshold of being a single mom that she still rocks flawlessly while finishing college degrees, modeling and a full time job. Werk.

When I asked her what does it mean for her to be a part of this podcast, she simply said:

The chance to work on this podcast is an opportunity to live out my best bad and bougie life and encourage other women creatives to live the same: in a way that is authentic and appropriate for themselves. I strive to promote the power of living your truth.

What I love most about Cicely is not only how tough she is on the outside but how transparent she is inside that keeps her at a legit 100 which adds so much value to this podcast.


And so it begins…

It’s going down LIVE on Facebook January 27 where we’ll share our first live recording of the podcast as teaser for future show subscriptions. 

Each month will feature a different topic and we want to hear from you via IG (@octanedesigns) or Facebook on input and your own stories and truths.

We encourage you to support the podcast via Patreon as a regular listener or a show sponsor. 

To say that I’m excited for this is beyond an understatement. We have planned an amazing line up of guests from across America that are sharing their life truths about taking chances, community and the power of the human spirit. 

Welcome to the MTG podcast, where life is #morethangraphics!

6 Rule of Thumbs to Kick Butt in 2019

I’ve had my fair share of hard falls and slip ups in 2018. I’m ready for a new year of clarity, focus and direction. No time like the present to reflect on how to actually get there than right now before the New Year.

I’m pretty sure there’s no manual, magic oil or incantation that will airlift me from the start line to the finish line. So that just leaves my perseverance, my heart and my mind. And a pantry of sugar.

These are some general thoughts that I thought might help others in similar sediments to kick butt in 2019!


1. Know that your only competition is who you were yesterday.

Often we can be our own worst enemy. During the holidays I clearly remember having near panic attacks knowing that all the work I do can be done by someone else at any time. What made me special?

Its knowing that I can do *magic* with little to nothing. That I can create well beyond the concept of something and see it completed in a quick turnaround.

The only thing stopping you is you. The real question I find myself asking is: how bad do you want it? Success is a mental stress test and requires lots of additional conditioning to undo some things to learn new things. Sounds cliche but its total truth.

Try to live it out loud. You’re worth it!


2. Earn, save and invest before you spend.

This area is a constant work in progress for me. I grew up with my mom, a senior banker of 33 years for Chase Bank and the three mergers prior to that (thats right all the way back to First Liberty National Bank *mind blown*) and still grew into an adult where none of that stuck.

Truth: I still can’t balance a checkbook unless an app does it for me. 

Before I was married I was a single mom to 2 kids under 3 years old in a 500 sqft 1 bedroom apartment living off child support and a hustle.  I was living paycheck to paycheck depleting food stamps to the penny each month. I wasn’t saving because every dime went right back out.

I had to want to change first. Then I had to teach myself how to reserve while in survival mode.  Starting with nickels and dimes. Start small and build on it.

In order: Earn. Save. Invest. Spend.

I am still teaching myself inner Financial Peace before Dave Ramsey could get a hold of me. I’ve started, emptied and refilled my ‘rainy day fund’ on more than one occasion but now I know how to rebuild it.

  • As a business owner and a mom of now three boys, savings and investment is crucial. Real talk: we’re not meant to do this alone. Knowledge is power. Find a local finance resource or even ask for financial recommendations from your social circles. If you don’t have a wealth management professional or a financial advisor of sorts I recommend to find one that works for you.


3. Avoid negativity, life is too short.

Is this not self explanatory? By definition, negativity is, the expression of criticism of or pessimism about something.

Negativity can be things that hold you down. Things or people that are negative do not build you up or inspire you to move. It makes you feel small and often immobile. Trapped.

Did you know that scientific research indicates that negativity is contagious, akin to a cold.

“Feelings circulate in patterns analogous to what’s seen from epidemiological models of disease,” reported Wired. 

The effects are drastic. Research has shown that even a small amount of negative brain activity can lead to a weakened immune system, making you more prone to illness, and even lead to a heart attack or a stroke.

Who needs that? Not you.

Note that I didn’t say ignore negativity. This world is imperfect and requires reflective spaces for us to grow from. You need negativity to balance yourself, but not dwell in.

Know when to cut people (even business) off and surround yourself with people that love or at least appreciate your true self.


4. Go after what you want (because you’ll never get it if you don’t).

Man, oh man. This is always a whopper for me as I’m sure for anyone who struggles with fear of failure. I’m constantly plotting / rooting ahead for my kids, for my husband, for my business and lastly with whatever is left in the tank for myself.

I’ve had to make some major changes to that over the past few years and will push even harder in 2019 to stick to. You only get ONE life folks. If you spend your whole life in the “what if” bubble, real life will pass you by.

My oldest son and I are dreamers. We could spend weeks in our own thoughts and dreams of how it would all play out, while in reality abandoning relationships and ignoring opportunities to make the dream real. We often get stuck here not wanting to do the work to make our dreams real because the dream is prettier than the reality of making it happen.

This is a lie.

Life is not about what you don’t have, its about what you DO have.

Want to start that dream business? Do it.
Dreaming of going back to school for that degree? Do it.
Inspired to make impact in others lives? Go do it.

Does it involve change? Of course.
Will it be easy? Prolly not.
Will you want to to give up? Most likely.
But it’s entirely worth the risk.

Don’t walk into your later years with regret. Use each day as an open opportunity/ a gift to do something great.

“It doesn’t do to dwell on dreams, and forget to live.” -Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter


5. See failure as a new beginning and not a short end.

I clearly remember sharing with a fellow Partnered Vendor this past year to not fear failure because it’s the beginning of something else.

Real Talk: all things end. It’s how much you positively nurture yourself in between the ebb and flow of your failure that will depict your real success.

Fell down? Get up, dust it off, keep it moving.

As my beloved Aunt Shirley would say: NEXT!


6. Mind your habits for it directs your future.

Again more advice for myself indefinitely. I find myself nit picking at lots of bad habits this time of year. I even wrote them down:

  • On Phone After Hours
  • Comparison to Others
  • Fast Food Line
  • Over thinking

Can you relate? Each one of these stem from a consistent action that doesn’t benefit me spiritually, emotionally or physically. It could easily define my next 5 years..

Staying on my electronics after hours leads to less family time with people I love especially my married time (apparently we’re above the national average of people who have sex in 2018, so I’ve got that going for me).

Comparing myself to others dismantles my self esteem to stand against the grain and be my true self without consequence of opinion or judgement.

Fast food will kill me. Literally.

Over thinking diminishes my personal faith that God already has his best intentions for me and that by attempting to play Him, I’m playin’ myself.

Make new habits in 2019 that allow you to grow taller in the virtues that matter most to you.

  • Make a plan
  • Set goals
  • Stay firm with your boundaries
  • Start small
  • Take in the moment
  • Hold yourself accountable through others or support group

Wishing you every success in 2019 personally and professionally!