OBITUARY: James Miho, Revolutionary Graphic Designer

James Miho (left) and Ray Fukumoto, members of JANM’s volunteer design committee, in April 1990. (Photo by Nancy Araki)

The Japanese American National Museum released the following statement on April 27.


JANM mourns the passing of James Miho, the groundbreaking graphic designer and education leader who created the JANM logo. Comprised of two waves of East and West, our logo represents the fusion of cultures and influences across generations.

James Miho designed the JANM logo.

Born in Gridley, California in 1933, Miho was incarcerated in Tule Lake Concentration Camp during World War II. He fought in the Korean War and became so inspired by the art and architecture he saw while on leave in Japan that he pursued graphic design at the ArtCenter College of Design.

After graduating in 1955, he began his career at NW Ayer & Son in Philadelphia. There, he helped create the “Great Ideas of Western Man” series of print advertisements for the Container Corporation of America in the 1960s and 1970s. His company, James Miho Inc., created inspiring and timeless designs.


Miho was predeceased by his wife, Tomoko Miho (née Kawakami), in 2012. Born in 1933 in Los Angeles, she was incarcerated at the Gila River War Relocation Center in Arizona and attended the Minneapolis School of Art and the Art Center School in Los Angeles. Angeles, where she earned a degree in industrial design. A graphic designer and recipient of the 1993 AIGA Medal, she was known for her understanding of the relationship between space and object.

In the 1980s, she founded her own studio, Tomoko Miho & Co. Her clients include the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Air and Space Museum, the Isamu Noguchi Foundation, the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens, Willem de Kooning Foundation, Kodansha International. , and Aveda.


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