Lessons Learned from Skydeck to Marketoonist

Tom Fishburne self portrait

Tom Fishburne started out drawing cartoons for The Harbus as an RC.  Now he’s doing it as his full-time profession.

 In 2001, Tom Fishburne’s cartoon, “Skydeck”, quickly gained popularity within the student body.  However, he did not imagine that he could make a living drawing comics fulltime replica watches uk.  He could not have believed that in 2011, his content would have over 100 thousand followers—that he would be invited to speak around the globe on how cartoons can be used effectively in marketing campaigns–that he could make the same salary as an entrepreneurial cartoonist after 10 months that he did as a 15-year consumer marketing veteran.

The Marketoonist Model

Flash-forward 10 years.  Although the medium which Fisburne uses, cartoons, has not changed, the method by which those cartoons are employed has evolved.  Tom Fishburne is at the forefront of a movement to utilize the growth of social networks to help businesses communicate with their customers, but more importantly, start an ongoing conversation through Fishburne’s website Marketoonist.com as well as through custom cartoon-based ad campaigns for specific companies.

Why is Fishburne’s model working while the newspaper and magazine industry, including its comics, are struggling?  According to Fishburne, it is because the traditional model is broken.  “There is so much clutter out there, and consumers are getting better and better at filtering it out replica breitling.”  The solution, Fishburne describes, is to start a lasting and memorable conversation with the reader rather than just bombard them with messages.  Though cartoons are not the only way in which this relationship can be established, they have the unique ability to succinctly describe complex scenarios and address important issues in humorous yet unforgettable ways.   As described by Fishburne, cartoons allow companies to “establish relationships with [his] readers.  Cartoons can be a form of conversation….  They show humor and insight.”

The conversation with his readers is evidenced by the quality of comments that his weekly cartoon receives, and further confirmed by how customers and readers treat his cartoons.  Readers compete to receive signed prints of his cartoons.  Customers hang signed prints of ads which he has designed for various firms in their offices—treatment which would make any ad agency envious.

Making The Leap
Making The Leap by Tom Fishburne

First Flight

Fishburne decided to make the jump into entrepreneurship and work full-time on Marketoonist.com after requesting to speak about the story of his previous employer at the Do Lectures, which are similar to the TED talks.  However, after pitching the idea to the Do Lectures organizers, they said that though it was a great story, it was not his own.  It was the story of the founders of his firm, and they should be the ones telling it.

 Fishburne illustrated his motivations in a cartoon, and used the analogy of an airplane taking off.  Each step in a potential entrepreneur’s life provides speed to the airplane.  Eventually the entrepreneur reaches a point at which either the airplane takes off or he runs out of runway.  The Do Lectures moment was one such impetus in Fishburne’s life which convinced him that the now-or-never moment was approaching—that it was time for him to write his own story.

As Fishburne describes, the length of the runway is different for everyone.  Some people may begin their entrepreneurial careers right after business school.  Other may wait much longer.  There is no “right” answer—it is based on your own personality as well as the skills you need to achieve and the risks you are willing to bear.  But eventually, you will know.

At 10,000 ft. and Climbing

Fishburne has already succeeded in many ways.  He has a dedicated fan-base, steady revenue, making as much as he did as a marketing professional, a novel business concept, and most importantly loves what he does.

Next month, Tom Fishburne will be speaking at the Do Lectures about his own journey, about his own motivations to take the leap into entrepreneurship, and about how he is using cartoons as a tool for companies to strengthen their bonds with their customers.  Check back with The Harbus to see where he goes from here.

1 comment

  1. Tom: As you know, most guys never get to live their dream. How lucky you are! and let me know where I can see your cartoons. You are the second cartoonist I know. The first was a friend of ours who was in New Yorker for years. Best to Tallie and kids. Mike Schwartz

    His name was Donald Riley.

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