Ever wondered where Caffeine&Machine’s distinctive look comes from? A lot of it is borne from the mind of Jake Yorath, a graphic designer with years of experience in the world of motorsport. Where else does he draw inspiration from?
If you’ve visited Caffeine&Machine, or even followed us online for a while, then you’re already familiar with Jake Yorath’s work. From the wrap on our van, to a whole lot of our branding, to myriad event posters, the graphic designer has been involved with us pretty much from day one, having met co-founder Phil at a race in Dubai when C&M was nothing more than a series of hastily-scribbled ideas.
Motorsport has long been a defining element of Jake’s life and work. “One of my very earliest memories is watching the 1994 Formula 1 World Championship finale,” he says, “and the earliest photo I remember being taken of me is in a Formula 1 car about six months later.”
It’s unsurprising, then, that this love infiltrates Jake’s art. Both his private pieces and commercial commissions take legendary cars from the annals of racing and reinterpret them in bold, minimalist styles, often extrapolating the liveries into abstract graphical flourishes in the negative space around the cars.
Some pieces are a freeze-frame of a specific moment of action – there’s Ayrton Senna, unmistakeably yellow-helmeted, head tilted to the side in the cockpit of the dominant McLaren MP4/4; there’s John Cleland in a Super Touring Vauxhall Cavalier with fewer than the regulation four wheels on the ground. Others simply put the static car at the forefront, the pared-back style working to emphasise the shape.
Outside of his own work and his help in crafting C&M’s visual identity, Jake has worked with a variety of big-ticket motorsport clients, including the British GT Championship, the Jota endurance racing team, and Bentley Motorsport.
This makes it all the more surprising that he has no formal training in graphic design: “I did one year of a journalism and media degree, and ironically dropped out because I was focussing on making my own magazine, and I genuinely think I’d be worse off had I done that degree. I wouldn’t have had the fun that I’ve had – I’ve done photography, journalism and PR professionally for all sorts of people all over motor racing.
“I remember years ago I started making these posters out of my photos, and this guy said, ‘I think you’ve missed your calling as a graphic designer’. I thought, ‘maybe I haven’t missed my calling, maybe that’s what I should do’, and here we are all those years later. But I’m always trying to do new stuff – I get very bored quite easily, which is why I’m freelance and why I do as many different things as I can.”
Despite the clear motorsport theme running through his work, Jake is fastidious in keeping his horizons broad when it comes to his influences. “I get inspiration from all over. I try to avoid getting inspiration from motor racing because I think if you do that you just end up making the same art everyone else is making, so I draw all sorts of stuff from all sorts of places. For example, one of my favourite artists is [illustrator] Malika Favre, who’s just unbelievable… far and away the best in the world at what she does. Every time I look at her stuff, I’m like ‘f***, I wish I could do that.’ For me I think that’s actually quite healthy, to be able to challenge yourself.”
In fact, there’s a huge range of visual cues that make themselves apparent in Jake’s art, from the strictly regimented nature of Roman mosaics to the vibrant colours and culture of his home city of Bristol. All of these influences combine into a timeless, modern look worthy of everything from a garage to a gallery.
A selection of Jake’s work is available in the Caffeine&Machine Emporium.