FOMO – A Hand Lettering Case Study

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Inspiration for hand lettering pieces can come from anywhere. A recent spark came recently, in Vietnam, while I was speaking to a guy about relocating. He was contemplating moving from Saigon to a small beachside town a few hours away to get more work done. For him the strong sense of “fear of missing out” kept him going out more than he should which was impacting his productivity. Growing up in a large city where the grass is always greener, I definitely knew where he was coming from. The feeling is of course exacerbated by a constant stream of Facebook event invites, Instagram cooler-than-you-posts, and the allure of new friends only a right swipe away. I replied, “Yeah, man, the FOMO is strong here…” Trailing off, I thought to myself that the acronym would work really well for the new alt-fashion apparel outfit DEATH+TAXES.

A few weeks later, I set about turning the phrase into a gloop-pop hand lettering illustration. Since there’s a sort-of sense of dread associated with the phrase, I wanted the aesthetic to lean towards horror film text tropes. The horror had to be a bit comedic though, as there is no actual danger associated to this fear. I’d decided that the forms had to be organic too, not too angular. Maybe I was overthinking it, but I surmised the fear of missing out is less about what was being missed but who. Who could we connect with at another party? A business partner? The coolest friend you never had? A potential mate?
 

Bringing Hand Lettering to Digital Editing

The initial work for FOMO was done while I was awaiting a bus from Mui Ne to Saigon. It was just the “F” and “O” in a drippy 50’s horror style. Owing to the business of my schedule at the time, I didn’t get back to make the “M” and “O” for another week. But when I’d set up the principal characters, I still felt something was missing. Thinking it over for a day of coffee and conversation, I’d decided that I wanted this hand lettering work to focus more on the carnal side of FOMO. The letterforms then took on a more cartoonishly sexual look. Once I was satisfied with the work, I made a clean ink copy, and imported it into Adobe Illustrator. While it was there, I streamlined the forms even further.

Once I was satisfied with the line work, I blocked out the colors. I went for a green tone for the interior letter-forms to keep with the comic horror motif. I paired it with a deep salmon color on the drippy bits. Adding a few tints tot he green and cream spots made the design come together.


 

The Promo

After I finished painting this hand lettering piece, I set my sights on making a video promo for it. In it, the piece floats on top of a looping paint splash video endlessly splashing over a color shifted photo of a derelict urban scene. For the soundtrack I chose a sample from a cut by Gardens & Villa called “Domino”. For me the song perfectly encapsulates the fun and ennui of constantly chasing the next big thing.

F.O.M.O. (DEATH+TAXES PROMO) from Vice Morris on Vimeo.

 

How do you think it turned out? Let me know in the comment box below!

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