Japanese illustrator Makoto Wada passed away on October 7, 2019 due to pneumonia. He was 83 years old. The Osaka-born artist graduated from Tama Art University in 1959 and entered the advertising industry where we quickly made a name for himself. He became in independent illustrator in 1968.
Wada was a fan of the arts. Film and music, especially jazz, were some of his passions and this shows through in his work, which often took on a simple, caricature-esque look. He was perhaps most well-known for his minimal illustrations for the covers of weekly tabloid Shukan Bunshun, which contrasted sharply with the magazine’s salacious scoops.
Flipping through Wada’s work is not only enjoyable for its artistic value, but it also offers a glimpse into Japan during the 60s and 70s as the country rapidly modernized and rose to become a technological leader.
Having grown up in the 80s and 90s in Japan, I remember gathering around the television on Saturday nights for “Golden Foreign Film Theater.” This was the opening sequence, illustrated by Wada, that would play before the movie started.