Performance Question

I am generating a few hundred graphs and doing so takes on the order of about 10-15 minutes. Which seems to me rather slow. When I profile my code it identifies the calls to get_yticklabels and get_xticklabels as taking over 90% of the time. This seems strange but my calls to these functions are merely a sort round about way of setting the font size of the axis tick labels and suppressing the text for the xticklabels. Is there a more efficient and cleaner way to do this?

artist.setp(axes.get_yticklabels(), visible=True, fontsize=7)
artist.setp(axes.get_xticklabels(), visible=False)

I am using matplotlib version 0.83.1 and the .png format for my output, if that helps. Though the profiler seems to suggest that the output is blazingly fast and it is only these calls to the get_?ticklabels that are slow.