Carded With Care

Artist Gajin Fujita autographs a large print of his artwork now available as a Los Angeles Public Library card. From left are his wife Angela, Senior Librarian Pearl Yonezawa and City Librarian John F. Szabo. (Photos courtesy L.A. Public Library)

A street-styled makeover of L.A.’s iconic library card by artist Gajin Fujita is currently available at all 73 locations of the Los Angeles Public Library citywide.

The limited-edition card’s strik­ing design, unveiled last April and available while supplies last, blends imagery of traditional Japanese mythology and contemporary L.A. graffiti art.

“I feel honored to contribute my artwork for this special edition library card,” said Fujita, an East L.A. native. “Growing up, my local library in Boyle Heights was the R. L. Stevenson Branch, and it was a sanctuary for my brothers and me.

“The librarian there, who is also Japanese American, really looked out for me. And beyond the access to books, magazines and refuge – the library had A/C on hot days!”

The card’s image is a detail of Fujita’s painting “Guardian Angel,” which features Kintaro, or Golden Boy, a mythical child known for his uncanny strength. Kintaro was a protector of the common folk, a champion of the people, and a sym­bol of bravery and courage.

The composition is based on an ukiyo-e print by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi from 1868.