Interview with Kads MIIDA, Amazing Japanese Reggae Painter


Hello Kads. I am very pleased to have you in graphicart-news. Please tell us about yourself.

Hello, My name is Kads MIIDA. I was born in Kyoto, Japan in 1964 and graduated “Tokyo Zokei University”(Art School) in 1988.
While in the middle of my studies as a university student, I started some graphic and illustration works. When I was 23, I had an opportunity to paint a mural for a reggae club, and from then, started live-paintings on the side of the sound system. While on a trip to Jamaica in 1992, I got into oil painting, and soon after Jamaican trip, my first exhibition was held in Japan. From then, I started to display in my exhibition few works I made while on a trip, such as pottery in Mexico, landscape painting of Hawaii, sketches drawn in Ethiopia. I also provide graphic designs for some T-shirts and logo designs for restaurants, shops, or any other stuffs. Now I’m living with my family in Tokyo.

There is an honesty in your work, you capture the real Jamaican popular culture like few have done from outside the culture. Where did this passion for painting and illustration comes from?

I want to show the people what I see in the dancehall culture and reggae riddims (rhythms).

Your art reminds me of the reggae album covers and dancehall posters of the 1970s and 80s that were coming out of Jamaica, are you familiar with the works of the late Jamaican illustrator Wilfred Limonious?

Yes! I respect him.

Your illustrations and paintings are best known for depicting Reggae and Jamaican themes, how did this come about and what spark your interest in these areas?

First I touched the riddim of Reggae which fit well with me, and I thought that I would like to paint simply the energy which I experienced when I went to Jamaica.

You have a very unique style, tell us a bit about you technique, what mediums do you work in?

Most important thing is make a natural line. I choose mediums freely according to an object to draw.

Tell our readers what do you wish to accomplish with this fantastic collection of paintings and illustrations?

I just wish to promote peace and wish peoples realize that we’re part of nature through my paintings.

I noticed that many of your art captures the dancehall scene with the reggae Sound system, the energy and vibe of the dancehall, who are your favorite reggae artist and what Sound systems inspire your work?

I listen to many kind of reggae music, so it’s hard to give you a particular name. In Japan, my first sound system which I made live painting was Banana size. Live painting has been carried out on the side of the sound system of Japanese every place.

Can you please explain us what do you mean by “Live painting”?

We use “Live Painting” as a Live performance, painting in front of the audience or in public also indoors and outdoors, any place. In connection to music festivals, night club and any other parties, “Live Painting” has been spread across the Japan.



Wow, that sounds fantastic! Do you always listen to reggae when making each piece?

Not always but yes. Any music gives me an inspiration. Especially while live painting, music become essential.

Tell us how big is reggae in Japan.

From when Bob Marley came to Japan in 1979, reggae pervaded widely. Now, the dance is held in every place by the sound system every weekend. In summer, All reggae fans are made mash up by Japanese reggae singers or DJs at the festival.

Are you familiar with our contest, International Reggae Poster Contest? What do you think about this initiative?

I got to know this contest for the first time this year. I think that it is good.

One of the objectives is to raise awareness about the need to build a iconin building of a Reggae Hall of Fame in Kingston. Do you see this need and why (or why not)?

Although I am not knowledgeable about the action, I can agree, if it becomes development of the music of future Jamaica, and honor great musicians’.

What are you working on now?

I’m holding The exhibition at Tokyo Cultuart by BEAMS from 4/26~5/22. This exhibition’s concept is “art=gifts for future we’re living”. People can buy the Japanese specialty which I designed. I will have the pleasure of sharing my design techniques in a children’s workshop next weekend.

Thank you for your time! Let’s enjoy some of your amazing artworks!

















Have you had exhibitions of your work in Japan or other countries?

I had my first exhibition in Japan in 1992 after my return from the first Jamaica trip, and has been doing exhibitions periodically. However, I have not held any exhibitions yet in other countries.



Few more words about Kads

Kads is at the center of the Japanese reggae painting scene and is a pioneer of live painting in the reggae world. Kads first encountered reggae in the late 80’s. He has been loving reggae music and creating art for over 20 years.
While he was still in school, he began working as a graphic designer in Tokyo. Reggae music started to influence his work, and the rebel culture that forms the base of reggae music began to define his work in particular.
In 1988 he began working as an artist. He painted murals and combined live performances of painting with reggae music.
In 1992 he went to Jamaica for two months. The art and music encountered on the trip had a large influence on his work. Meeting Rastafarians during his time in Jamaica imbued his art with a clear direction.
In 1994 and 1995 Kads took a trip to Ethiopia and India. He created a mural at a Rastafarian commune in Shashemane, Ethiopia that is still there today. Back in Japan he had an art exhibition from where his Nyahbinghi oil painting spread around the world in poster form.
Kads continued holding exhibitions of his reggae art, giving live painting performances and doing graphic art for album and CD covers, logos, posters, and clothing. Through this work his name has become known throughout Japan.
Painting in front of an audience while listening to reggae music is Kads’ original style. He is a pioneer of live painting performances in Japan. In 2008, he created a series of popular live painting events called Live Painting SESSION.
In 2009 he published a picture book called Go To Jamaica based on his trip. The first printing sold out in Japan.
In the future he plans to give live painting performances overseas and publish a book of his graphic art that he has accumulated over the past 20 years.


Maria Papaefstathiou

VISUAL DESIGNER since 1996 and blogger since 2010. Living in Athens, Greece. She has been focusing her research on poster design and particularly on social poster design and portrait design. Her main poster project is a series of posters celebrating great personalities of traditional and popular culture in Greece and Jamaica. These include actors, singers, musicians, poets etc. This is an ongoing project. “I believe that design is a powerful tool that we designers can use to spark enthusiasm, change mindsets and bring positive actions to our world and our culture”. FOUNDER AND EDITOR OF GRAPHICART-NEWS.COM BLOG. She carefully curates high-quality designs, illustrations, and art, from all over the world that will teach and provoke other designers. Many consider her blog to be an exceptional educational tool. CO-FOUNDER OF THE INTERNATIONAL REGGAE POSTER CONTEST which was launched on December 2011, partnering, the creative activist Michael Thompson aka Freestylee. (

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