S. Neil Fujita

S. Neil Fujita

Sadamitsu "S. Neil" Fujita (May 16, 1921 – October 23, 2010) was an American graphic designer known for his innovative book cover and record album designs.[1]



Born in Waimea, Hawaii to Japanese immigrants, he attended boarding school in Honolulu, where he adopted the name Neil. He enrolled in Chouinard Art Institute, but his studies were interrupted by World War II and his forced relocation to the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming in 1942.[2] He enlisted in the United States Army on January 1, 1943, and served in an anti-tank unit with the 442nd Infantry Regiment, a regiment consisting primarily of Japanese American volunteers that became the most decorated unit in the war. He was assigned to combat duty in Europe—seeing action in Italy and France—but eventually worked as a translator in the Pacific theater in Okinawa. He completed his studies at Chouinard after the war.[1]


A resident of Southold, New York, Fujita died at age 89 due to complications of a stroke on October 23, 2010, in Greenport, New York. He was survived by three sons and six grandchildren. His wife, Aiko Tamaki, whom he met while she was also a student at Chouinard, died in 2006.[1]


Fujita joined a prominent Philadelphia ad agency—N. W. Ayer & Son—after completing his studies. He employed an avant-garde style and was noticed by Columbia Records. Columbia hired him in 1954 to build a design department to build on the work of Alex Steinweiss. Columbia felt a particular need to keep up with the cover art of Blue Note Records. Fujita created numerous iconic covers of the period, including that of Time Out, 'Round About Midnight, and Mingus Ah Um.[1]

In 1957, Fujita left Columbia in order to broaden his portfolio. He started his own firm, but rejoined the company soon after. In 1963 he joined the public relations firm Ruder & Finn, creating a design division called Ruder, Finn & Fujita (later Fujita Design) where he embarked on a long career of book cover design. He designed the covers for In Cold Blood, The Godfather, and Pigeon Feathers.[1] He taught design at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art, the Pratt Institute, and Parsons School of Design.[1]


See also

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