If you’ve been following motorsport design before, it’s almost certain you’ve come across Jake Yorath. He’s probably best known for his iconic race posters for the British GT and Formula 3 championships but has also worked for notable teams like Aston Martin, Bentley and Nissan.
How he got there is described by him as a mix of luck and hard work. As probably everybody who is involved in this sport, Jake has been a racing enthusiast since his very early years. “I've followed motorsport all my life, really. My dad is a huge fan and he took me to quite a lot of races as a kid.” Besides being told off in class for reading Autosport magazines instead of his school books, his first clear memories of motorsport are seeing the British touring car and GT championships at Donington and Silverstone in the late 90s. He was even lucky enough to take a seat in Michael Schumacher’s world championship winning Benetton B194 and Malcolm Wilson's Michelin Ford Escort rally car.
Jake’s way into professional motorsport design was pretty much paved by himself. Having already been into photography for some time, he started his own motorsport magazine called l’endurance to advertise his as well as some of his friends’ work. Contributors were people like Dan Bathie, Jamey Price, Brecht Decancq, Adam Pigott and many more. “Most of us who were involved in it are now working in motorsports or doing something creative.”
This magazine eventually helped Jake launch his career into professional work as he got his first PR job through it. During that time, he worked in a shoe shop during the day, designed things in the evening and went racing on weekends.
Another big benefit of Jake’s magazine was that he was able to accredit photographers through the publication. As the magazine didn't generate any money to pay the photographers, it made at least sure they could go to races. “Race series often won't give photographic accreditation to freelancers, they need a publication. So we would accredit the photographer, who would earn from clients and supply us images in return for the access, effectively.”
Work hard. Respect your time, and talent, and don't sell yourself short. Create personal work. Never stop learning - from others in the industry but more importantly from the wider art world. Don't take it, or yourself, too seriously, but be professional. Be grateful to anyone who helps you.
It was during this time that Jake also remembers his funniest story in motorsport. For his magazine l’endurance, he created a preview for the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans. “We gave each entry a progress bar suggesting how good we thought they were. For example, Audi would have had around 95%, whereas Tom, Dick and Francois in a four year old Porsche would have about 30%.”
Also on the grid were Deltawing – you remember the funny-looking rocket shaped car supported by Nissan. “As a joke in an early draft, I put the Deltawing down as '9 inches'.” They kept it in the final publication – obviously giving it all quite a ‘phallic’ look. It didn’t really harm Jake’s career though.
Apart from the bright stories, getting into the creative business properly has been as hard as for everyone else. It’s quite common to be ‘offered’ to work for free in the beginning. And so has Jake. In retrospect, he is not too proud of it and preferred to do his own thing – just as he did with his magazine l’endurance.
Regarding the vast sums that need to be invested in going racing in the first place, free work is not the first choice for young designers to take. “If someone is racing, they're spending a boatload of cash. They can spend a bit more on your time.”
Nobody in this business can honestly say they've not had a lot of luck to get here.
His advice to young creatives who want to get into the business goes like this: “Work hard. Respect your time, and talent, and don't sell yourself short. Create personal work. Never stop learning - from others in the industry but more importantly from the wider art world. Don't take it, or yourself, too seriously, but be professional. Be grateful to anyone who helps you.”
Jake Yorath’s breakthrough came in around 2013. The opportunity to move from working part time in a shoe shop into motorsport full-time came with PR work for Belgian race team Marc VDS. He split his time between designing race programmes, brochures, posters and doing PR work. From then on, he had plenty of jobs which can be seen on his website – including his latest pop-art-style poster for Jota Sport for the 2018 24 Hours of Daytona.
What's to come?
One of his dream projects on business side would be to create a print magazine or an arthouse which would include limited-edition screenprints. On a more global and serious level though, he would like to help people from more diverse backgrounds into motor racing, either as fans or professionals.
It's a straight, white male dominated sport, and that can and should change.
We thank Jake a lot for taking his time!