Jersey City, New Jersey
|Education||School of Visual Arts|
|Known for||Painting, Graphic design, Sculpture, Graffiti|
KAWS was born Brian Donnelly in Jersey City, New Jersey. He graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in illustration in 1996. After graduation, KAWS briefly worked for Disney as a freelance animator painting backgrounds. He also contributed to the animated series 101 Dalmatians, Daria and Doug.
He began his career as a graffiti artist growing up in Jersey City, New Jersey. Later moving to New York City in the 1990s, KAWS started subverting imagery on billboards, bus shelters and phone booth advertisements. These reworked advertisements were at first left alone, lasting for up to several months, but as KAWS’ popularity skyrocketed, the ads became increasingly sought after. In addition to New York, KAWS has done work in Paris, London, Berlin and Tokyo.
Art and Products
In 1999 KAWS began to design and produce his first limited edition vinyl toy with the Japanese clothing brand Bounty Hunter which was an instant hit with the global art-toy collecting community. From there he collaborated with other Japanese companies like A Bathing Ape, Santastic and Medicom on further toys.
More toys and later clothing were made for Original Fake, a collaborative store with Medicom Toy, in the Aoyama district of Tokyo. This venture ended on May 31, 2013 as KAWS decided together with his business partner Medicom Toys to close down his brand "Original Fake" after almost seven years on the street-wear scene.
KAWS has participated in many other commercial collaborations with Nigo for A Bathing Ape, Jun “Jonio” Takahashi for Undercover, Michael "Mic" Neumann for Kung Faux and projects with Burton, Nike, Vans, Supreme and DC Shoes . Kaws designed limited edition bottle designs for Dos Equis and Hennessy, rugs for Gallery 1950 and packaging for Kiehl's Cosmetics.
For the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards KAWS's company redesigned the iconic moon man statue and illustrated various magazine covers for The New Yorker, Clark Magazine and I-D. He created various cover art for recording artists like Towa Tei, Cherie, Clipse and Kanye West.
2014 he collaborated with his long time collector and friend Pharrell Williams on the flacon for the perfume "Girl" Pharrell Williams created with Commes des Garcons to celebrate his solo album of the same name. 
KAWS books like C10 and early exhibition catalogues are rare and collectors items. In November 2009 Rizzoli published a lavish retrospective about his work written by Mónica Ramírez-Montagut, a curator at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, which is more easily available.
There have been a variety of exhibition booklets been published for this more recent shows in Hong Kong, Malaga and the US.
A great overview of his publications with downloadable PDFs of the articles can be found here
Paintings, Sculptures and Prints
KAWS’ acrylic paintings and sculpture have many repeating images, all meant to be universally understood, surpassing languages and cultures. One of KAWS' early series, Package Paintings, was made in 2000. This series, entitled The Kimpsons, subverted the famous American cartoon, The Simpsons. KAWS explains that he "found it weird how infused a cartoon could become in people's lives; the impact it could have, compared to regular politics." In addition, KAWS has reworked other familiar icons such as Mickey Mouse, the Michelin Man, the Smurfs, and SpongeBob SquarePants.
Early supporters and collectors of his work are street-wear designer Nigo of a Bathing Ape fame and the musician Pharrell Williams.
Solo exhibitions include OriginalFake at the Bape Gallery in Tokyo (2003) where his sculpture "Wonderful World" sold for $400,000. KAWS has been periodically showing both paintings and products at Colette in Paris since 1999. His work is included in the traveling exhibition Beautiful Losers, which started at the Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center and will be traveling through 2009 throughout the US and Europe, including his largest museum show to date, which will be held at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia.
KAWS's "Companion," a grayscale figure based on Mickey Mouse with his face obscured by both hands, was adapted into a balloon for the 2012 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as part of the parade's "Blue Sky Gallery" feature.
- Lee, Chris (2009-02-21). "Tag, this artist is definitely it". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved 2009-03-11.
- Gering & López Gallery - KAWS - Biography
- Healy, Murray. And "Graffiti Artist Turned Gallery Artist Turned Art Toy Maker, KAWS." Pop. Feb. 2007: 260-265.
- Iconoclast Usa
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