KAWS is an American graffiti artist, painter, product designer, illustrator and toymaker who blurs the boundaries between fine and commercial art. Born Brian Donnelly in Jersey City in 1974, KAWS initially worked in animation after receiving his BFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York City, for illustration. He then worked for Disney as a freelance animator, where he had the opportunity to create and paint backgrounds, as well as contribute to films such as Daria, Doug, and 101 Dalmatians. In the 1990s, KAWS moved to New York City, where he began his career as a graffiti street artist by reworking images on bus tops, phone booth advertisements and billboards in his distinct cartoonish style that includes characters with X-ed out eyes. KAWS was also initially famous for designing and producing limited edition vinyl toys, which gained notoriety and quickly became collectibles in the toy collecting community. Since then, KAWS has produced designs for toys and clothing for companies such as Vans and Nike.
KAWS is renown for repurposing Pop icons from television cartoons, such as Snoopy and Mickey Mouse, into bright prints, paintings, miniature toys and monumental sculptures. His works all feature his signature X-ed out eyes, neon colors, and layering of abstracted shapes.
KAWS currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. His museum exhibitions include solo shows at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, High Museum of Art, Modern Art Museum, and the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, as well as at international galleries including Galerie Perrotin and Honor Fraser Gallery. KAWS’ work has been seen world-wide, in cities such as Paris, London, Berlin, and Tokyo.