Maybe we can blame it all on Game of Thrones, but dragons have enjoyed a particular cultural renaissance of late. Whatever the reason, the fantastical fire-breathing beasts seem to increasingly fly through our popular imagination in film, television, games and books.

The U.S. Postal Service caught wind of this trend, and our president Greg Breeding served as the art director for the 2018 Dragons stamps, working with illustrator Don Clark.

Art directing stamps

Don Clark has worked with major brands and artists, with everyone from Target to Kendrick Lamar, and his bold, distinctive style was the perfect fit for a fresh, 21st-century take on the mythological creatures.

Don and Greg began working together and sharing ideas, driven by the challenge to create a new depiction of dragons — and not rely too heavily on the plethora of existing images of the mythical creatures. They wanted the stamps to be simultaneously recognizable and yet completely new at the same time.

Final stamp designs

As a result of his research process and design thinking, Don pitched four categories to broadly represent dragons: a traditional, medieval-era dragon; a dragon inspired by East Asian cultures; a sea dragon; and a fairy-tale dragon.

Greg encouraged Don to use the entire stamp canvas in his designs, pushing to see dragons curling around and expressing a level of detail and intricacy to make them texturally interesting on such a small scale. These four categories led the way to the four final stamps, each presented on a narrow vertical canvas.

“When we think of dragons, we think of Dungeons & Dragons or darker paintings. It’s beautiful stuff, but for the stamps, we discussed doing something much more modern, graphic and colorful — an approach that we hadn’t necessarily seen before with dragons.”

Don Clark, Stamp Illustrator

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