Phil Baines YAK poster


The second project that I will be covering is Phil Baines’ 1994 ‘Yak’ 2 poster. This poster was published as a part of Why Not Associates, a graphic design company that Baines’ has done freelance work for frequently. The poster was released along with a few other posters through Why Not Associates. In an interview on ‘Eye’ magazine, Baines comments on his inspiration for this specific poster. He reflects on his mindset during the time period that he created the design. Baines was, at the time, still a student and had not travelled much and consequently felt no real wish to. He explains that he enjoyed his country (Britain) and was perfectly comfortable exploring it “on a local level.” Additional inspiration from the piece comes from his thoughts concerning his studies at the time. The curriculum that he was studying at St Martins was heavily set around Russian Constructivism and did not give much wiggle room for operating outside the stringent rules that were being placed on their ideas. Baines goes on to explain that, although he was enthralled with many of the artists he was studying at the time, the pressure to conform to their exact styles was frustrating. The result of this frustration shows itself in ‘Yak’ 2. While working on this project, he decided to take much influence from the various artists that he was supposed to, but twist and adapt what he disliked or wished to change. That sentiment shows itself in a statement made by Baines during this same interview. “I could never subscribe to a particular way of doing things – I was always more pick’n’mix. I’d want to take what was good and alter it a little, or, if I thought the ideology was stupid, drop the ideology.” What Baines says about not subscribing to a particular way of doing things certainly shows itself in ‘Yak’ 2, and accurately reflects the chaotic but refined appearance of the piece. 


Picture from:

Interview taken from:

Discussion — One Response

  • Noah Wilde 04/22/2021 on 6:31 PM

    I find the juxtaposition between Baines being so alright to simply stay in Britain and his feelings of restriction with the content he was studying at the time to fascinating. The piece itself reflects this quality quite well in it’s general chaotic appearance, utilizing wild textures and complicated illustrations while simultaneously containing many of those chaotic elements to neat rectangles or center justified paragraphs and refraining from using any color other than blue and grayscale. This concept of this duality can be extrapolated out to give meaning or clarity to many things in life such as entropy and enthalpy or left brain right brain. The way he uses imagery and typography only push this duality further yet I believe it to be here that the poster really begins to suggest an importance on the interplay between two extremes, many of the words and characters are chopped up and replaced by simplistic imagery and the type is treated in a very similar way to the more illustrative elements. The interplay or “grey area” between any extremes is where harmony and balance occur and the use of containment, typography, greys and color, composition and texture all seem to suggest the same.

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