Graffiti artist Brian Donnelly or better known as KAWS started his career in the early 1990's tagging "Kaws" in different lettering styles all over New York City and other major metropolitan cities. The Jersey City native built this reputation into an empire of followers, fans of art which allowed him to expand on his concepts and mediums into sculptures, acrylic paintings, screen prints and become one of the worlds biggest modern pop artists.
Gaining a name for himself, KAWS moved on to something referred to subvertising, spoofs of real advertising. Essentially he started to take real ads from bus stops, put his own spin of X'd eyes and bones on them and place them back inside the bus stop glass for everyone to see. Hundreds were made and some would stay there for weeks until they were replaced with new real ads.
Some of his early pop art was created in the year 2000 in a series entitled Package Paintings. This series included a spoof of the classic American cartoon, The Simpsons, and his version, The Kimpsons, questioned how cartoon characters could become so engrained into peoples daily lives and how much of an impact a cartoon could have as opposed to politics. Seeing the success of this series, KAWS continued to juxtapose other famous characters like the Smurfs, Snoopy, Mickey Mouse and even SpongeBob SquarePants.
Around the same time of the late 1990's and early 2000's, KAWS also began to design and create vinyl designer toy figures. His first collaboration was with Japanese clothing brand Bounty Hunter, then he continued to design more vinyl toys including ones for A Bathing Ape or BAPE. Then in 2006, KAWS partnered with toy company Medicom Toy (Makers of Bearbricks) to open his own exclusive store called OriginalFake. Within that collaboration, he released his most iconic figure, the KAWS "Companion." A simple figure with a Mickey Mouse-like body and his traditional skull head with X'd eyes. These were not by any means Toys, they were very limited, extremely detailed and are now in art galleries and private collections around the world. These sculptures were only several inches tall, but the artist moved on to create different sizes with different materials like fiberglass. This allowed him to create huge versions of the "Companion" sculptures that are over 32 feet high!
With his work being seen almost everywhere through collaborating with Japanese brands and showcasing his art, brands started to notice, liked his style and wanted in. KAWS has worked with a myriad of brands and celebrities including Burton, Vans, Supreme, DC Shoes, Nike, Dos Equis, Hennessy, M&M's, the 2013 MTV VMA's to design the Moonman and even with Kanye West for his 808's & Heartbreak album cover.
KAWS' artwork could currently be seen in museums around the world including, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; and at a huge temporary exhibit called, Where The End Starts at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai, China that will run until August 13, 2017.
Get inspired by KAWS' pop art and check out the Cadillac x Andy Warhol Creative Invite.