Born in 1974 as Brian Donnelly, the artist now known as KAWS began his career in the 1990s. After attending the School of Visual Arts in New York, he started out working as an animator and graffiti artist before moving into the world of fine art. Although he was primarily a painter at the start of his career, today he is a master of many mediums. His sculptures range in size from a few inches to more than 30 feet and are made of and equally wide range of materials, ranging from traditional fiberglass to unusual items like steel pontoon inflatable raft.
His contemporary art features a cast of characters, some of which are his own creation and some of which are borrowed from popular culture. His most famous created characters are “Companion,” “Chum,” “Accomplice,” and “Bendy;” while his borrowed imagery includes characters from the hit TV shows “The Simpsons” and “Sesame Street.” KAWS often uses color in unexpected ways, combining bright colors with muted tones, often with a matte finish that nicely underlines the modern tone of his art. The graphic lines and shapes used can be deceptively simple, yet this perceived simplicity allows his art to be easily understood and almost universally beloved. KAWS blends the world of fine art and commercial art, and his work is admired by both art scholars and collectors.
Not content to merely let his art exist in popular culture, KAWS routinely embarks on brand collaborations to spread his influence even further and in unexpected ways. In 2013, he re-designed the iconic Moon Man statue for the MTV Movie Awards. In 2017, the Museum of Modern Art in New York’s website crashed due to the extreme popularity of the KAWS companion toy figure for sale for $200. The same year, he also partnered with companies to create a Nike Air Jordan capsule collection. He has partnered with Uniqlo to create three distinctive clothing lines as well a fragrance bottle in conjunction with Commes de Garcon and Pharrell Williams. He is one of the most collected artists among celebrities and routinely one of the best-selling artists at auction.