If you stopped to admire the incredible graphic details in Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs, you were most likely admiring the work of Erica Dorn. As the lead graphic designer on the film, Erica was responsible for bringing together everything from the Japanese woodblock-inspired artworks to printed documents, product packaging and signage, which added beautiful intricacies to the dystopian future world Anderson was creating for his canine stars.
In her Nicer Tuesdays talk, Erica spoke about how she got the job and showed a plethora of research, references, sketches and images from her work on the film.
“I haven’t worked in the film industry before,” she revealed, though she has worked as a graphic designer for a number of years, so it was this combined with the fact she is half Japanese, and speaks Japanese, that she says got her this coveted role. However, “it’s more than just about language,” she continued. Wes Anderson is absolutely dedicated to authenticity, she explained.
“I’ve come to know him as someone who’s very interested, not just in the language and typography of Japan, but also the customs and traditions, and very keen to celebrate it.”
Among many aspects, Erica showed graphic designs for the opening titles and the noodle bar scene. “Isle of Dogs is a stop-motion film, and that means everything has to be made from scratch. Our job as graphic artists is to design all the little details that make this miniature world feel more real, and a lot of that is typography, illustration, patterns and murals.” She also showed the smallest graphic they had to produce for the film, which measures in at 1mm x 5mm.