KAWS Facts

KAWS is an American artist best known for his paintings, screenprints, sculptures, and merchandise featuring a cast of recurring characters.

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Facts About KAWS

  • KAWS’ real name is Brian Donnelly.
  • He was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, US.
  • The name KAWS comes from a graffiti tag he painted on a building so that he could see it from class at St Anthony High School.
  • After high school, he attended New York’s School of Visual Arts to study Fine Arts, graduating in 1996.
  • He worked as a freelance background animator for Jumbo Pictures, and he contributed to the animated TV shows Doug, Daria, and 101 Dalmations: The Series.
  • In New York, KAWS became a graffiti artist, altering advertising billboards and bus shelters.
  • His artwork often features characters he has created. These include Companion (a clown-like, grey Mickey Mouse-style character with gloved hands, and a head shaped like a skull and crossbones), Accomplice, Chum, and Bendy.
  • One of his artworks’ motifs is replacing characters’ eyes with crosses.
  • He produces artwork in the form of paintings and sculptures, and he often subverts and reworks existing icons of pop culture. For example, The Kimpsons series of works was based on The Simpsons TV series.
  • He has also referenced Mickey Mouse, Astro Boy, Hello Kitty, Snoopy, the Smurfs, the Michelin Man, characters from Star Wars, and SpongeBob in his work.
  • His 3D work has ranged in size from toy-sized figures to huge sculptures, and he has worked with various materials including fiberglass, wood, bronze, and aluminium.
  • KAWS has named artists Gerhard Richter, Claes Oldenburg, and Chuck Close as among his influences.
  • His work is collected by the YouTuber PewDiePie, the musicians Justin Bieber, Pharrell Williams, and Kid Cudi, and music producer Swizz Beatz.
  • He has collaborated with the Bounty Hunter toy company, the fashion designer Nico, Medicom Toy, the manga artist Santastic!, Marc Jacobs, and the designer Jun Takahashi. And he has also worked on projects with the companies Vans, Supreme, Burton, DC Shoes, Dos Equis, Hennessy.
  • He has produced a custom range of guitar picks in collaboration with John Mayer, and a collection of Air Jordan sneakers.
  • In 2021, KAWS collaborated with Travis Scott, and he has produced cover art for numerous artists including Towa Tei and Kanye West.
  • KAWS’ collaborations with the Uniqlo clothing brand have resulted in clothing lines based on Sesame Street characters and Peanuts characters.
  • KAWS is an accomplished skateboarder.
  • He has been influenced by the work of Takashi Murakami.
  • His artwork has been exhibited in cities all over the world, including New York, Melbourne, and San Diego
  • In 2012, KAWS designed a balloon featuring his character Companion for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
  • In 2006, he opened his own store in Japan called OrignalFake.
  • KAWS admires the work of the artists Jeff Koons, Martín Ramírez, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, HC Westermann, Chris Johanson, Harry Dodge, Robert Crumb, Peter Saul, Ken Price, Lee Quiñones, and Joyce Pensato.

KAWS has more than 4 million followers on Instagram.

As far as my opinion on galleries, I think they are a great thing. I see them as another outlet. I’m sure by now you’ve figured out that I do my work for everybody to see. That’s the whole point.


What does KAWS stand for?

It’s just letters that I liked. K-A-W-S. I felt like they always work and function nicely with each other.

  • KAWS’ works frequently sell for many millions of dollars. The Kaws Album (2005) sold in 2019 for $14.8 million. Untitled (Kimpsons #1) sold for $7.4 million in 2019, and The Walk Home sold for $6 million in 2016.