The thing I like best about the broadsides is the layout of the sheet. They are all the same layout and typeface so it’s lovely and clean. Yeats uses less rather than more. The illustrations are so simple but really annoyingly beautiful. He just gets it; it’s hard to explain. The colours as well, he doesn’t colour everything in, he leaves some of it so you’re drawn to what’s going on in the illustration. It’s just really classy.
His work is understated but at the same time he’s using heavy pens and inks. It looks like it took five minutes but I know it didn’t. I remember that my grandmother had a couple of prints of his illustrations of the races in her house. I always liked them when I was a kid because they were so readable. I just love the look of the whole exhibition. I think that students of illustration, graphic designers and publishers should see it.
Look at the way the broadsides are presented, I really just want to dive in and read them. The book cover is just lovely, it just whispers to you, “Open me.”
What I see now more and more in illustration, and particularly graphic design is the concept that more is more. It doesn’t have to be like that. Sometimes, when you are designing for people, it’s very hard to convince them that less is more. There’s a lot of empty space you can use to draw attention to the illustration.
The huge posters in this exhibition really grab you. It really hits you when you walk in the gallery. A lot of people aren’t aware that Yeats earned a living as a commercial illustrator as well as a painter. He had a nifty sense of humor too. If you look very closely you can see that there’s a few gags in there. Very tiny ones mind you but they are still there. Here’s one in particular, the one with the kids at the door at Halloween, “The bang on the door boys.” It’s fantastic; the characters have so much personality. Look at the little feckers! It gives it that little bit of a kick, which you wouldn’t expect. It works very well.