JOHN YATES –
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME
Born in Leeds, England in 1965. Eldest of two sons named after mother’s favorites in The Beatles.
Raised incredibly bravely and unquestionably well by single mother following father’s complete capitulation of responsibilities. Mother aided and abetted in raising offspring by unabashed socialist grandfather. Is taught strength, independence, and that any working man who votes conservative should be put against a wall and shot. Excells in little at school but art and physical education, and in drawing the wrath of his teachers. Culinary school almost follows, surprising, as all he exists on is cereal and toast.
Winds up at art college when it is discovered it pays better than unemployment and there are no dress restrictions. Bluffs his way through four years of school, somehow graduates with pieces of paper claiming he is capable of design and photography. Stumbles into first design studio position through pure luck and a close friend’s lobbying. Spends next few years abusing free access to all manner of equipment, fueling first forays into music business design and zines.
Through mailorder record purchases and persistant art submissions, somehow manages to hook-up with Jello Biafra through Alternative Tentacles’ London office. Begins art trades via international mail with Dead Kennedys’ frontman. Gets offered lyric booklet design job for DK’s swansong album. Pulls it off across an ocean and a continent, first of a decade of collaborative efforts with gifted artist.
Accepts a job offer at A.T.’s San Francisco office following a summer “working” vacation. Quits Thatcher’s Britain, reluctantly bids farewell to family and friends, never looks back. Dedicates 10 years of visual shenanigans to pioneer label, only quitting twice, finally for good in 1998.
Simultaniously runs incredibly underachieving D.I.Y. label for 9 of those 10 years, releasing 100 titles and succeeding in a goal of helping little-known bands become totally obscure.
Publishes various visual tirades against a lot of bad things; including small press items, posters, t-shirts, and the surprisingly popular ‘Punchline’ zine.
Works freelance for numerous bands and labels, achieving modest name recognition in most industrialized nations, including Lichtenstein.
Wrangles two book publishing deals through personal friendship leverage. Participates in several exhibitions, including a fully funded trip to a French international design show, courtesy of France’s arts council. Does not affect his view of said country. Accepts the fact he hates participating in art shows.
Sees designs appear on t-shirts internationally, highlighted by excellent product placement during 2000 Green Party convention and various anti-WTO protests.
Remains a fanatical Leeds United supporter, regardless of the abuse he receives for this. Enjoys watching far more television than you might expect, with not a shred of justification forthcoming.
Collects original movie posters yet cannot display them, persists regardless.
Collects retro and current toys, for which he denies a need for professional help.
Owns every episode of ‘MASH’ available.
Currently resides in Alameda, California, in the Bay Area. Has a 6-year old son and a 6-year old relationship, both of which continue to enlighten, entertain, and enthrall him. Feels the need to rewrite his bio daily, but has accepted he must now let it go.
Always receptive to design opportunities, interviews, and pie.
Alternative tentacles went out of its way to not make links out of artists’s varied history in an attempt not to piss him off – ed.