I recently decided to take my cartooning to the next level. Ten years ago this week, I started drawing cartoons in business school. Since then, I’ve doodled nights, weekends, and early mornings, dreaming of a day when I could do it full-time.
The hard part wasn’t finding the idea to turn my cartooning into a business. It was reaching a point where I had enough courage to leap.
I’m creating a business called Marketoonist. After experimenting on cartoon projects with Wall Street Journal Asia, Unilever, CaseCentral and many others, I discovered that cartoons can make powerful marketing campaigns and help spread ideas. I have a few immediate projects, including one cartoon campaign that has been running for two years, and a few in the works. I have some ideas to scale it further. Overall, I’m inspired by the potential of visual storytelling in business.
I’ll also continue to draw Brand Camp as actively as ever. Many people don’t know this, but Matt Groening, the Simpson’s creator, has been hand-drawing a cartoon called “Life in Hell” continually since 1978. He once said, “I’ll never give up the cartoon strip. It’s my foundation”. Same with me. Brand Camp is my foundation.
I want to thank all of you who have supported me by reading and sharing my cartoons with others. To celebrate ten years as a cartoonist, I’m going to send out ten signed cartoon prints, matted and ready to frame. Just add a comment to this post with your favorite Brand Camp cartoon over the years. I’ll send a print to the first ten people who mention a specific cartoon in a post (please include your email so I can get your mailing address).
I also want to announce my brand-spanking-new website, designed by the brilliant gang at Out:Think. It gives more detail on my new business and also has a cartoon bank to make it easier than ever to sift through past Brand Camp cartoons and immediately license a high-res jpeg.
I’m inspired by David and Clare Hieatt who founded the DO Lectures to encourage the world to go DO something. I was fortunate to attend the first and second DO Lectures in a rainy tent in Wales, and they had a profound impact on me. Every attendee has to pick a “DO”. Mine was to become a cartoonist some day.
I later read some perspective from David where he uses the metaphor of takeoff to describe the moment of launching any crazy unproven idea:
There is a point on a runway during takeoff that a plane reaches V1 speed. Once it passes V1 it has reached the point of no return. The point where the take off cannot be aborted. The plane has to take off. Or crash.
We wait for the right time without ever knowing how to define ‘right’. The simple truth is that there is never a right time. The stars don’t all suddenly line up in one neat little row to show us the way. On the other hand, there is never a wrong time either.
It’s called a leap of faith for a good reason. It’s a risk. And the outcome is far from certain. And that is why we tend to put off these life-changing decisions.
So maybe the answer is to create our own false V1 markers in the runway.
Set it. Stick to it. And then say ‘what the hell’ and jump.
And hope you can build some wings on the way down.
60 CommentsJoin the Discussion
Poppy Gets a Life says
My favourite cartoon is the career trapeze: https://marketoonist.com/2010/01/the-career-trapeze.html.
I left a corporate job to try working in an industry I’m more passionate about, and I felt that cartoon summed up my emotions very succinctly. I wrote about it here http://www.poppygetsalife.com/2010/03/learning-to-take-breath-in-my-career.html
I’m based in Australia so probably don’t qualify for your generous gift, but want to wish you all the best in your exciting new venture.
Hi Poppy, Thanks for sharing that link and cartoon. Yes, I plan to ship overseas too, so I’ll email you soon to get your exact mailing address in Australia. Thanks again, -Tom
Hi Tom, says
Congratulations on the jump and best of luck to you. I’ve been reading your cartoons for years. As a product designer they definitely strike a chord. It’s hard to pick a favorite, so I’ll just choose one that speaks to me – Point of Difference https://marketoonist.com/2008/11/point-of-difference.html
Heidi Foreman says
Hi Tom –
I’ve been a big fan of your cartoons over the years because they ring so true. While it’s tough to pick a favorite, I think “30 minute brainstorm” from 2006 is at the top of my list…thinking that we can gather people in a room for half an hour (or half a day) and “force” creativity has always amazed me.
Best of luck in your new venture!
Tim Kastelle says
Hi Tom –
Good luck with the new venture! You’re doing great work here, so I’m confident it will work out.
My favourite is Survival of the Safest:
I found your blog through a link a friend had shared early this year and have been hooked ever since. Wishing you the best for the new venture. Safe landing!
My favourite is
Michael Wintrob says
Congrats on the new challenge. Have enjoyed your work for years. As a strategist at an agency, the Inside the Mind of the Consumer cartoon is always a good reminder not to get too righteous about what we do: https://marketoonist.com/2007/09/inside-the-mind.html. Always good for a laugh.
Look forward to seeing your new work and how it will evolve. Best of luck,
Stumbled across your work this year, but instantly adopted “Shiny New Thing” (https://marketoonist.com/2010/05/shiny-new-thing.html)
and tacked it up for all to see as they enter my office. The reactions are priceless and telling, it’s like some kind of jedi mind trick cartoon. Would love to have a shiny version!
Ben Branson says
Unlike many comments I am what you might call a ‘recent fan’ of your work. I have been a planner at a design agency for 18 months and loving it!
I have on friday afternoons or early evenings found myself trawling through your archives. My favourite must be https://marketoonist.com/2010/02/the-art-of-package-design.html
Having recently dealt with clients who insist on design by committee, i get tempted to send this one through to them. Packaging Design is not a pick a mix!
Thank you for keeping me entertained and informed!
Best of luck with ‘Marketoonist’
Angelos S. says
I would like to wish you all the best in your carreer move and new business. I left the “runway” about 2 years ago and stll “flying”, so keep going!
My favorite is ‘The 8 types of managers’ as it reminds me of what not to be. https://marketoonist.com/2010/10/the-8-types-of-manager.html
All the best,
Liz Poggi says
I think I missed the cut off while I was re-browsing all of your wonderful cartoons 🙂 Congratulations on your leap! I was one of your incoming “class” at Mills, and have had a great time following your work ever since. I think today’s cartoon is fantastic – it resonates with so many stages in life and career. I admire how you can capture common themes and give them a great visual. While I’m home with my kids, I keep contemplating the next step, and love, https://marketoonist.com/2010/01/the-career-trapeze.html. I wish you and your family the best with your new adventure, and maybe we’ll run into each other sometime in the Bay Area.
It’s no easy task selecting a favourite out of favourites, but I ‘nominate’ the ‘How Brands Talk’ cartoon › https://marketoonist.com/2010/09/how-brands-talk.html.
(And am thankful for every single past and new one.)
(Brand Designer & BrandCamp Fan 😉
Branimir Bratanov says
My favourite must be “Inside the mind of the consumer” https://marketoonist.com/2007/09/inside-the-mind.html. It alsways reminds me to keep things real and be more pragmatic.
Wishing you all the best with your new endeavour
More than 10 comments, so don’t worry, but I still wanted to share one of my favorite cartoons. I had a hard time choosing: as an entrepreneur, I’ve been inspired by your innovation cartoons most. My favorite is Innovation Planet, https://marketoonist.com/2009/03/innovation-planet.html, with Think Outside the Bin a close follower https://marketoonist.com/2009/07/think-outside-the-bin.html 🙂
I wholeheartedly disagree with your “a cartoon is worth a thousand boring PowerPoint slides”: the cartoon is worth so much more, because it brings about change; and good luck doing that with a boring PowerPoint deck. Well, I haven’t many more warm & fuzzy things to say, except that when I will have a few employees and we will have new offices, you can be sure we’ll have at least one framed cartoon hanging. (And why would we want to hang a thousand boring PowerPoint slides on our wall is what I’m asking)
Keep up the great work, congrats for the leap !
P.S. Hey, I’m 24 and I’ve been subscribed to your RSS for 2 years now, that’s 8% of my life. Yikes!
Adrian McEwen says
Welcome to the world of doing your own thing. It’s a crazy ride at times, but worth it. Good luck with it all.
ralf schwartz says
Tom, this is just great! All the best for you and that remarkable foundation (you already created) to grow into the marketoonist ’empire’ 🙂
Glad to have you aboard leadmarke.com
Howard Pull says
Good luck in your new venture Tom, I think you’ll do well.
So many good cartoons, my favourite is Death By A Thousand Cuts https://marketoonist.com/2009/05/innovation-and-cartoons.html
Tom, I have been following your for years. In building brands we face some unreal hurdles and interesting critics. Your cartoons capture the thoughts great.
One of my favorates was the 8 art critics.
Best of Luck,
Tom Denford IDCOMMS says
I LOVE ‘The Agency Bid’ (we used it in a presentation and it sums up our business, would love to have a copy of it) – am I too late?? Great news Tom, many congrats with the new venture we will be following you closely and finding ways to work together again soon. Kind regards from London – Tom D
Jan Poppe says
even though I don’t think I’ll “win” by being in top ten, my daily peak at “The 8 Types of Bad Creative Critics” keeps me a winner, by virtue of reminding me not to take criticism seriously and to accept that everyone wants to “own” the work.
Keep up the good work.
As someone who is married to a future ‘leaper’, I wish you all the best- we pick up a little more confidence when we hear success stories.
My favorite is Managing the Brand
I have actually ‘witnessed’ this during my time in brand management . . .
Fergal Keniry says
Best of luck Tom! Be happy with this moment. This moment is your life! you’re right about the stars not neatly being all lined up ready to communicate to you the precise time to start. the answer is always NOW. Only in the past week I have started my entry INTO this new, scary (for me) territory. At 47 may seem late…but not for me! Ferg
Marta Gonzalez-Morell says
Tom. I am currently trying to figure out my DO to then define the V1 marker. I recently left P&G after 12 years there. I used to share your posts with a select few of my peers that had vision and were not blinded by the P&Geer dogma of other few. You have inspired me through the years and I have no doubt you will make it BIGGER than you already have with your vision. My favorite then has to be todays “MAKING the LEAP”. All the best of success…luck you don’t need. Martita
Stacy Bergmann says
Hi Tom – good luck with the leap, a reminder that we all should keep an eye on when to take that big jump into the unknown… finally make those daydreams reality. Hard to pick a favorite, I receive many comments on your screen saver Christmas present but have the ‘Truth in Labeling’ up in my office now as I made the jump to private brands from CPG a couple of years ago. The other one that rings so true is the ‘A Day in the Life of a Brand Manager’.
I’ve followed you for several years. Hats off to courage and taking this to the next level. I recently watched a TED video by Patrick Chappatte: The Power of Cartoons. It sums up your dream beautifully. I have many Brand Camp favorites but the one closest to my heart is “Idea Prevention Department.” I know it was a recent one, but I lost many of my other fav BC cartoons that I’d noted in a Word doc when I recently was re-org’d out my last company. Good luck and all the best, Loring
Tom Mc says
I know I missed the cut, but this latest “runway” cartoon is now my most favorite. It’s true about marketing and it’s true about life. Thanks and I look forward to enjoying your cartoons for years to come.
Congrats on taking the leap, Tom! best of luck!
My favorite (and I blogged about it) is entitled “The Power of Word-of-Mouth (050905.wom_n.jpg) and it just made me laugh. Now I’m not so sure that the most recent one is my favorite since I am launching a new business in about one week. Yep, the runway is getting shorter!
vishal chitte says
i hope you have not only reached V1 but also saying Rotate…
best wishes from me, i hope your cartoons not only make us laugh but also reinstate common sense in our act of business.
my personal favourite cartoon is a recent one….
Hi Tom! Congratulations on making the leap and good luck! You’ve made laugh out loud many times, but this one in particular sticks out in my memory: https://marketoonist.com/2002/10/the-8-types-of-brand-managers-2.html
i’ve loved reading your cartoon and have your book right here. I’ve given the book as gifts and often forwarded your e-mails to my colleagues. It really helps to take a step back and laugh at the frustrations that otherwise just drive us crazy. Thanks for the laughs! My favorite is the one where they are talking about creating a more emotional experience and the woman at the table says “but we make tile grout”. It makes me laugh just thinking about it!
Ted Simon says
Tom – What exciting news! Congrats on taking a leap of faith and charting a new course. Your keen insights, wit and creativity will buoy you through take-off, I’m sure. Now I can look forward not only to Brand Camp, but Marketoonist creations as well. 🙂
Here’s to pursuing your dreams and creating the wings to bring those dreams to life!
P.S. While I missed the cut, for the record my favorite cartoon is “Shiny New Thing” (although I have to admit…picking one favorite out of so many great cartoons is hard!).
I’ve enjoyed your cartoons for many years & often wonder if we don’t actually work at the same company. I’ve had “Scrappy Marketing Tactics”(4/5/04)posted in my office since it came out. It always brings a smile to my face. And who knows, maybe one of these days (when the budgets get cut yet again) we may give some of the ideas a try! 🙂
Good luck w/your new projects!
Jonathan R says
I find myself having “fishburne flashes” in meetings when a comment or decision making scenario becomes a Brand Camp moment. Favorites are generally under the “management” theme and tend to bucket things that I know I know but haven’t been able to actually visualize them until I see them laid out in a cartoon. Like the 8 types of brand managers and the 8 types of Retail buyers. I’ve worked with them all…
Thanks for your work. I saw your website on a colleague’s post, and have been hooked ever since. Keep up the good work!
My favorite cartoon is a recent one:
Karen Hochman says
It’s hard to pick a favorite Tom Fishburne cartoon—it’s like picking one favorite movie when you have 10. But I’ll vote for “The Ivory Tower.” Second choice: Think Outside The Bin.
This one has to my favorite
although it’s missing “read Brand Camp”
Good luck with th enew venture!
I’m excited for and proud of you for taking off. Hope to see you and your family at Thanksgiving.
Barbara Payne says
Tom – this is very exciting news! I will print your essay and share with M&D – if you haven’t already, since they are in S.F. today. Much love and best wishes on the “leap of faith.” All of your family has great faith in you. My favorite has always been the one about “diet and exercise” never sells.
love you lots
Joanna Reddick says
Congratulations! I must say that today’s cartoon was very timely for me as I, too, am thinking of my next move. Good luck — I’m sure you’ll be successful in your next venture!
My favorite cartoon is currently posted on my wall at work — Devil’s Advocate (07/19/10) — hence my next move is coming soon! 🙂
Keep up the good work!
Catherine Resek says
For many years I have always enjoyed reading your cartoons and posts, they are witty and to the point. I love your style. I particularly liked this last one “Making the Leap” maybe because it spoke directly to me – during this transitional period of my professional and personal life. It is a “leap of faith” beautifully illustrated! Congratulations!
Julie Saliba says
Congrats, Tom, on your new venture! I have always loved the saying from Mary Kay Ash “We fall forward to succeed”. With your talent, you will definitely stick the landing.
PS Hi to your ladies!
I love the idea for your new business, even if it means you won’t be working with us much longer.
My favorite cartoon (so far!) was the one you created in late 2008 called “Recession Hold ‘Em.” I borrowed it for method’s annual plan, as I thought it added some much-needed humor to a very challenging moment for business planning. Thanks for many such moments and good luck!
Ed Erickson says
Congratulations Tom. I wish you great success with Marketoonist. I love your cartoons and your perspective. So spot on to so many of my experiences.
A couple of favorites on the walls near my desk are The 8 Types of Bad Creative Critics https://marketoonist.com/2006/11/the-8-types-of-bad-creative-critics.html (man that is so true!!) and The Process Pendulum https://marketoonist.com/2008/04/the-process-pen.html.
Julia Cheng says
Awesome Tom – could not be happier for you 🙂
Allen Roberts says
I have enjoyed enormously your cartoons over the years, and have linked to them a number of times from my blog, http://www.strategyaudit.wordpress.com, the most recent your “waterfall planning” cartoon a few days ago, so being recent, it is my current favorite.
You do not need luck, just talent and a focus on being different, and making a difference.
This message is coming from Brisbane, Australia and while I have been sleeping and everyone else has been tapping at their keyboards I’ve missed your offer unless you want to make it an even 11 🙂 I want to congratulate you on your ‘leap’ and hope you fly high and far. One of my favourites was the ‘Value Elves’ December 2008. Enjoy the wind under your wings. Cheers, Jenny
I admire you for your courage to take the great leap forward, – It reminds me of your cartoon called the corporate ladder where people are more like trapezists than firemen up the ladder 🙂 and the inspiring posts you had written on the subject (re:howies, etc)
I look forward to my brand camp cartoon every tuesday morning (since i moved to this part of the world)and I often share it as appropriate with the teams I work with, whether they be finance, marketing, clients or else. With I working for nielsen, my favourite cartoon would have to be: nielsen: one database to rule them all 🙂 I would proudly hang it at work, should you make the exception and reach out even to the #48th post!
Very best of luck! Keep on making fun of focus groups divas, innovation killers, dry pipelines and shit*y brands that stand for nothing 🙂 This is what we need to hear!
This cartoon is the one that made me a fanatic: https://marketoonist.com/2007/07/the-art-of-gree.html
Can’t wait to see how your new experiences will be reflected in Brand Camp!
Congrats on making the leap. I hope to do the same in my own way in the years to come. You’ll have to keep us posted on how things work out for you.
My favorite cartoon is: “After The Brainstorm”. When I first started at my last job, this was the way we’d work…lots of great brainstorms and then everytime we started to put any ideas to paper, everyone would put up roadblocks to stop it. This cartoon perfectly embodies that mentality. I’d love to signed copy to hang in my office of how never to behave.
Congrats on making the leap and starting your new chapter! Just today I was talking with my manager and he described a colleague as a pontificator…so I referenced your 8 Types of Managers cartoon and sent him the link!
Rob Cottingham says
I’m so, so happy for you – and inspired by this leap you’re taking. Congratulations: you’re going to rock this thing!
Kay Allison says
As a focus group moderator, my favorite is the Oracles of Eden Prairie. You’ll do great. Being an entrepreneur is the best.
Congrats on your new endeavors. You have a great gift of being able to visually represent what so many are thinking. We all have gifts and it takes guts to really trust in that and go for it. But it’s never a bad decision to be live in your own personal truth (ok, that sounded like some Oprah-ism).
Congratulations on the new venture! I am very relieved that you won’t be giving up Brand Camp! My favorite cartoon by far is one I have posted on my cubicle wall, called Pipeline (I think – it’s from 7/18/04), but I’m continually amazed at how you hit the mark and always have fresh insights!
Elizabeth Quintanilla says
You will be awesome in the new venture! Love the cartoons!
I’ve only started reading this year, but my favorite has to be Poking the Bear! It totally feels like what our company has done over the last 5 years 🙂
I know I’m late to the party, but The Art of Greenwashing is my all time favorite. https://marketoonist.com/2007/07/the-art-of-gree.html
Also, it was the first one I found of yours and made me know I had to subscribe. Good luck and keep up the good work!
Congratulations- a leap of faith sir! I wish you well and will look out for opportunities to introduce you/integrate your work, to help style or communicate a brand- whether it be on the walls of their club room or corporate literature.
Personally I liked your take on the 8 types of managers!
i only just saw this, so here’s a slightly belated contribution: i included your brand onion on the front of a paper for a client where they were at loggerheads over whether to use their own brand “onion” or “carrot”. I thought they’d laugh or be furious. Fortunatley the former. I think cartoons are the most amazing communication tool and glad to hear you’re putting your talent out to a broader audience through marketoonist. keep up with brand camp though. it keeps many marketers who haven’t yet worked out where they want to fly to laughing.