My name is John Yates. I am a graphic designer based in Alameda, California. Stealworks is the name I design under. Since arriving in the U.S. from the U.K., I’ve produced design work for clients at a host of large and small ad agencies, design firms, fashion entities, book publishers, and record labels as a freelance Mac-for-hire.

Born in Leeds, England, I relocated to the U.S. in 1988 to work for Alternative Tentacles Records, the Dead Kennedys’ record label. Ten years of music packaging and a bit of name recognition later, I left to pursue work as a freelance designer for a variety of other bands and labels.

A few years later I stumbled into some freelance work at a San Francisco ad agency, which eventually developed into a full-time occupation with time spent at some of San Francisco’s better-known ad agencies, such as Hal Riney, Eleven, BBDO, Organic, and Duncan/Channon. To view my agency-related work, please visit If that address makes you a bit squeamish, please visit It features the same work, minus the tongue in cheek web address.

Simultaneous with my new full-time career, I continued to work in a freelance capacity on projects and for clients that held an interest for me. Designing book covers is one passion that grew out of this experience, along with apparel design for the likes of Stüssy and Burton Snowboards and the ever-present music packaging work.

A boyhood admirer of the Johan Cruyff-era brand of Dutch “total football,” I practice my own facsimile of Cruyff’s approach in my design work—inspiringly referred to as “total design.” In the interests of full disclosure, web design is my weakest link (I can make it look nice; I just can’t do the nuts-and-bolts stuff). But even Cruyff was known to tell Jan Jongbloed, “Well, someone has to play in goal!”

I also produced Punchline magazine for a couple of years, a publication that served as a personal soapbox for my sociopolitical commentary. The eventual outgrowth of this work may be viewed at I’m afraid it doesn’t get updated that much, but change happens slowly. Just ask Obama.

I’m currently working in a freelance capacity, primarily for a variety of small-press book publishers. Ideally, I would like to be designing book covers for some of those big-press publishers, but I am patient. Ever on the lookout for new design opportunities and liking to keep busy, I encourage getting in touch if you have a project you feel I’d be a good fit for.

This site last updated 2.27.13