I don’t think as designers we should hold on to a personal style. If we’re doing our job well, we’re reinventing our style for every client so that it’s unique and appropriate to them.
2. We then make a list of graphics that will be required, then just go down the list. If we're up against time, we’d spread out the tasks among the team — at our busiest, we had four Japanese-speaking designers, another who was very good at making patterns, a paper and printing expert and also a woodblock artist and illustrator who was carving all of the dog portraits (and most of the human ones too) and printing them by hand.
3. For each item on the list we collect references from the period, or from today, or older. From these Wes makes a selection and that becomes our visual brief to start designing. We try to keep as much as possible the characteristics that make the chosen references unique, like the lettering or type of paper or stamp detail.
4. Once we have the first design, it's a matter of revising back and forth with Wes until it's ready to be made into a real thing. We'll do as much of this by hand as possible, knowing that eventually it may have to be digitised and scaled down. It's then up to Wes how far he wants to deviate from the original reference — try a different colour for example.
5. If it’s a paper or card prop, we make it (print it, cut it, etc) and if it’s something more solid that needs to be built, we pass it on to the model-makers and painters.
6. Repeat the process for the rest of the items on the list. Often we'd be working on several different sets at once.
If Wes asked for something to be changed it would need to be done an hour ago while working on something due in three months time.
On Duke's dog tag the 'E' is too high up and far from the other letters because you're trying to recreate a mechanically engraved typographic error that might occur naturally. So you need to unlearn the principles of correct typography and just get more hands-on.