KAWS (b. 1974) is a renowned limited-edition toy and clothing designer based in New York. Born as Brian Donnelly in Jersey City, NJ, KAWS’ first foray into art began as a graffiti artist in the early 1990s. His images appeared on billboards, bus shelters, trains, and phone booths. KAWS received formal education at the School of Visual Arts in New York, where he graduated in Illustration. Immediately after college, he worked as a freelance animator for Disney. His designs for 101 Dalmatians as well as cult shows Daria and Doug are amongst his most popular contributions.
In the late 1990s, KAWS began to produce limited-edition vinyl toys. These achieved international success, especially in Japan, and became highly sought-after in the global art toy-collecting community. Following his explosive commercial popularity, KAWS began to make oversized sculptures of cartoon characters, the most notable examples being Mickey Mouse, SpongeBob SquarePants, and The Michelin Man. His Companion, a gray clown-like figure with his face obscured by his hands, was adapted to a balloon for the 2012 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. KAWS is also highly praised for his acrylic paintings.
His solo exhibitions include the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, PA, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA, the Harris Museum in Preston, UK, the Parco Gallery in Tokyo, Japan. International galleries include Honor Fraser Gallery and Galerie Perrotin. Recently, KAWS has collaborated with notable clothing and shoe brands such as Nike, Vans, Original Fake, Undercover, A Bathing Ape, and Comme des Garcons.