James Miho

2004 AIGA Medal
1933, Gridley, California

James Miho has spent a large part of his 50-year career in focused traveling, collecting the images and impressions that would inform a remarkable body of work for some of the most design-conscious clients of the 20th century. During the 1960's and 1970's he worked on the infamous Container Corporation of America's “Great Ideas of Western Man” campaign with Herbert Bayer and Charles Coiner (and was responsible for introducing Pop art to the series,) and art directed a series of themed paper sample brochures under the umbrella title “Imagination” for Champion Papers.

Miho was born into a wealthy Japanese family in northern California. With the onset of WWII, he and his family were interned for four years at Tule Lake on the California-Oregon border.

Upon his return from fighting in the Korean War, Miho enrolled at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA. The art and architecture he had seen during a two-week sojourn in Japan had inspired him to pursue a career in design. He graduated from Art Center in 1957 and Edward A. Adams, Art Center's founder, helped him get his first job at the advertising agency N.W. Ayer & Son in Philadelphia. Miho worked with Charles Coiner on the “Great Ideas of Western Man” campaign for CCA and it was Miho who introduced to the series the work of Pop artists such as Andy Warhol, and Larry Rivers. These contemporary images paired with timeless quotes created intriguing tensions that helped to keep the campaign relevant.

Miho left Ayer in 1965 and after an extended trip to Greece, resettled in Los Angeles. Here he embarked on what would be a 22-year relationship with Champion Papers through the agency Needham, Harper & Steers, Inc. Miho designed a wide range of material for Champion, including product promotions, and industrial films (two of which won gold awards at Cannes Film Festivals.) He is best known, however, for his concept, design, and photography for the annual book of papers for designers, “Imagination.”

Through James Miho Incorporated, the design office he established in New York in 1970, Miho consulted with the Chrysler Corporation, Atlantic Richfield, Xerox Corporation, Denise Rene Gallery of New York, and the Danish Embassy.

In 1988 he was appointed chair of the Graphic Design department at Art Center College of Design. He held the post until 1996 when he moved to Seoul to serve as the chair of multimedia design at Innovative Design Labs (IDS) of Samsung.