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Who is KAWS ?

February 27, 2022 11 min read

Who is KAWS ? - The Trendy Art

Do you want to know about the artist taking art by storm ? Do you want to have a closer look at the artist, who makes eight figures in return for one art piece ? Yes, we are talking about KAWS. KAWS is a widely popular name in the world of art. Unfolding detailed information about KAWS has become easier with this article helping you to get in-depth information. If you want to know about who KAWS is, why he is famous, and other information, make sure to follow this guide till the end. 

Kaws Art

I. Ten amazing facts about KAWS I bet you didn't know till the day :

Interested to know facts that you didn't know ? Keep reading.

1) KAWS is not even a real name :

You must know many famous writers under their pen names and a few artists under their pseudonyms. Surprisingly, KAWS is also one of them. KAWS is a famous New York-based artist who uses this name, KAWS, for exhibiting his arts. He started using the name KAWS randomly, as he thought these letters looked fabulous together.

His real name is Brian Donnelly, born in 1974 in Jersey City, New Jersey. Brian Donnelly, popularly known as KAWS, was interested in the world of art from the very beginning of his childhood days. Therefore, he followed his dream and graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York. After completing his bachelor's in Fine Arts and Illustration from that college in 1996, he joined Disney and worked as a freelance animator a few times. Before becoming a successful artist, KAWS worked as a background painter for Disney's famous animated series and films like 101 Dalmatians, Daria, and Dough.

Brian Donnelly

2) He started with graffiti art :

KAWS was a graffiti artist initially. After graduating, while working as a freelance animator, he chose graffiti arts to express his creativity. Brian Donnelly started with some buildings in his birthplace, New Jersey and Manhattan. Then, he marked many buildings and walls of those places with the tag "KAWS ." As time went on, he introduced new styles, patterns, and colors to his tag and started formulating unique styles in this graffiti field. Within a few years, some of the early works of subvertising were replicated as a series of screen-print lithographs. Among them, the mockCalvin Klein ad featuring supermodel Christy Turlington was embraced by a green figure is still famous.

Everyone appreciated the layers of the graffiti works of KAWS. From one with excellent knowledge of graffiti to one without any graffiti knowledge, everyone started to recognize Brian Donnelly, aka KAWS, for his versatile and unique graffiti style. Although he did not start with an art gallery, like some prominent graffiti artists, his graffiti works gained lots of acknowledgment. The walks and buildings and other visual public places were chosen by Brian Donnelly, who worked for him, and people started showing interest in his masterpieces. Soon his works attracted critics as well as collectors.

During an interview, KAWS informed that the intention was pure behind the works, especially in his early works. He said, "I just wanted to exist." As a result, he created some famous workpieces, all for ordinary people. He added that making paintings and art meant nothing to him if not for the people around him.

3) KAWS started his journey with a toy :

If you know about KAWS, you may know about KAWS Companion as well. After leaving his job as a freelance animator from Disney, he wanted to create something with his personal touch. While working with Disney, he got inspired by the epic animation figureMickey Mouse and created his very own set of characters, which he named "Companions." The specialty of the KAWS Companion was its "X" eyes and gloved hands. Soon after he created the KAWS Companion, it spread all over New York City and became one of the most talked-about creations of the 90s.

Shortly he created three-dimensional figures of his KAWS Companion, giving them different shapes, colors, and unique styles before the beginning of the 21st century. He produced a remarkable 500 KAWS Companion edition soon, and it also did not take much time to get sold. As time went by, KAWS and his signature KAWS Companion started gaining more and more followers. Finally, in 2017, his famous four-foot-long Seated Companion (2011) broke the record of getting sold for over $400,000.

Kaws Companion

4) KAWS is an Instagram star :

The craze for Instagram among the new generation is nothing to talk about. People share everything through their Instagram stories, from waking up to going to bed. It is also the best place for artists to meet with their fans and followers. It is an excellent platform for influencing people, radiating positivity, and showing talents. 

When it comes to Instagram, KAWS is a big name with a whopping 3.5 million followers and 5000+ posts; the Instagram account of Brian Donnelly is no lesser than an art gallery. Donnelly shares his auspicious KAWS artwork with people for free via this app. He and his versatile KAWS artwork have influenced people. If you search writing #KAWS on Instagram, you can see 900,000+ posts under his signature hashtag. If people keep supporting Brian Donnelly and his unique KAWS artwork, in the same way, he will undoubtedly cross many records.

5) His approach to playing with famous cartoon characters is unique :

The working-class parent Homer Simpson and his troubled family are well-known to everyone who grew up in the 1990s. It was a unique show. But, have you ever heard about the Kimpson ? Kimpson is an iconic KAWS artwork made by Brian Donnelly. He took the characters from Simpson and gave them his magical KAWS touch with the famous "X" eyes and gloved hands.

According to Christie's associate specialist Noah Davis, "No cartoon is safe from being consumed and turned up into KAWS." It is not wrong or exaggerating at all. With KAWS and his signature KAWS Companion style, many iconic cartoon characters have found new places in this world of art. For example, he recreated Mickey Mouse, the Simpsons, Kurf (hot dog, tangles), SpongeBob, and other cartoon characters. Every one of them is worth at least a few hundred million dollars, and they're all in safe hands.

Kaws Kimpsons

6) KAWS vs. Basquiat and Haring :

Both the names Jean Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring are widely popular in art. Both the American artists are known for their pop art culture and abstract arts in the world of graffiti. With their unique art style, the use of colors, shapes, designs, and other details has enhanced art's meaning to the world. Critics and art lovers have compared KAWS with them as Brian Donnelly, too, started his early days by painting on streets and roadsides. According to critics, KAWS had the power of seeing the world and understanding its mechanism differently, just like Keith and Basquiat. But, in the eyes of curator and historian Michael Auping, KAWS is "Greenberg's worst nightmare."

7) KAWS designed the float for Macy's Thanksgiving Parade :

In 2012, KAWS partnered with the Parade Studio to create a massive balloons float for Thanksgiving Day. His most famous KAWS artwork, the KAWS Companion, was seen floating down the street of Manhattan on Thanksgiving Day of this year, which is still thought to be one of the most striking and visually appealing KAWS artwork. Regarding this creation, the executive producer of Macy's Thanksgiving Parade Amy Kule said, In the line-up of huge character balloons, "KAWS delivers a unique visual approach that will let millions of people get access to modern art."

After floating freely for one long year, the KAWS Companion retired. However, after a few years, the number one KAWS artwork, the KAWS Companion, made several appearances, for example, in Macy'sThanksgivingParade90thcelebrationspecial in 2016.

Kaws Wall Art

8) KAWS and his collaborations :

Once, graffiti artist Brian Donnelly, aka KAWS, launched his fashion label Original Fake in the early 2000s. He started to create his impact on the world by working hard on the arts. He became a brand owner and then started collaborating with many cult streetwear labels. Some of them are famous now, as the Supreme Bathing Ape. He included his raw creativity in street arts and made unique and high-profile street style statements with these brands.

After a few years, in 2008, KAWS was seen designing the cover for Kanye West, the famous American rapper. Brian Donnelly designed outfits for Kanye for his popular albums like 808sHeartbreak, etc. After working with him, KAWS collaborated with Nike and developed a pair of Nike Air Jordan

In 2019, KAWS teamed up with the Dior designer Kim Jones. When Kim debuted his 2019 Spring/ Summer collection at the Paris Fashion Week, KAWS artwork was caught. Kim used KAWS's interpretation of the fashion house's iconic bee design, set it against the backdrop of a thirty-three-foot tall pink flower sculpture of KAWS's BFF character, and propagated it as an edition toy in a mini suit by Dior

Another successful collaboration of KAWS was seen with the Campana brothers. This collaboration gave birth to a range of furniture covered in plush toys. The range debuted at the Art Basel of Miami and was immediately brought by the famous billionaire couple Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott.


If you are a true KAWS fan, you must have heard about his famous HOLIDAY series. This HOLIDAY series of KAWS has toured Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, the United Kingdom, and some other places. Brian Donnelly himself admitted that he did not even think of having this large number of iterations in distinct places in the world. The HOLIDAY series is all about arousing the feeling of a chilled-out vacation, relaxing in the pool, lying down, floating, and all.

About this series, Brian Donnelly said, "It's a calm feeling." During the pandemic, when people were dealing with its pressure and seeking some fresh air, his HOLIDAY series popped up like magic. It sometimes helped people forget their sorrow, which was the real intention behind this art. Because of everything that's going on in the world today, Brian Donnelly thinks it's a good time to "space out" and take pleasure in some art. That's what he told the CNA, "This is an exciting chance for me because I get to develop something that will hopefully entice people to come out and visit. Furthermore, I believe that exhibiting these pieces in the open air is an excellent method to reacquaint the public with art "It's true.

10) You can find KAWS artworks worth as little as $14 and as high as $14 million :

KAWS is probably one of the most versatile artists in the world. As a result, he does what he loves to reach as many people as possible. From an early age, KAWS created art pieces for his audiences, and reaching people was his primary goal. However, when he started gaining fame, he did not forget his purpose in making art. As a result, you can see KAWS artwork in every price range; some are $50, whereas some are worth $2 million and more.

If you are fascinated by the unique art form of KAWS, you can get your hands on the affordable collection of KAWS hoodies, t-shirts, and toys. In his recent collection with a famous Japanese brand, he has printed the iconic Sesame Street characters on t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, and toys in his style. These are pretty affordable, all priced under $50. Furthermore, the tagline is also intriguing, 'You're never too old for the street.'

On the other hand, the list is also long if you are looking for expensive KAWS artwork. Let's have a look at some of them.

  •      The KAWS Album 2005: $14.8 million
  •      Simpsons #1 2004: $7.4 million
  •      The Walk Home 2012: $6 million
  •      In the Woods 2002: $3.9 million 
  •      Arms Away 2014: $3 million 
  •      Kurfs (tangles): $2.7 million 
  •      Kurfs (hot-dog): $2.6 million 
  •      Simpsons 2003: $2.2 million 
  •      Simpsons #3 2003: $2.2 million 

Kaws Artwork

II. Facts to understand about KAWS artwork :

1) KAWS graffiti thought :

If you look back at Brian Donnelly's early ages, you can see that he started his journey as a graffiti artist. According to KAWS, graffiti is street art that denounces. He was young back then and full of spirit. As a result, he explored his creativity by painting the walls and buildings of Jersey. Young Brian Donnelly also strolled around the cities and seized the advertisement campaigns. In the beginning, he used to paint his name, the letters K, A, W, and S, as he thought that these letters looked good together, just like an art. From then, he started coloring cities with the name KAWS. 

After roaming for a few years around the cities, his true artist spirit started growing, and he created the famous Skully design, his signature KAWS artwork of the present era. He created an "X" eyed skull icon, whose bones protrude forming like ears, and started drawing his little monster all over the cities. He targeted famous posters of fashion brands like Dior, Calvin Klein, Chanel and colored the posters with his cute little KAWS monster. 

Soon his arts started gaining appreciation, and people accepted him as a new-gen artist. Some also compared him with the famous artist Andy Warhol. In addition, people noticed similarities between Brian Donnelly's green curly snake figure embracing the famous Calvin Klein supermodel Christy Turlington with Andy's painting of Marilyn Manero.

Kaws Paintings

2) A job full of passion and technique :

KAWS is not among the artists who only make art for earning. Instead, he is highly passionate about whatever he does. That passion mixed with creativity had helped Brian Donnelly throughout the years, and today, he is a very famous artist on the earth.

Brian Donnelly was driven by pop art culture when he started as a graffiti artist. As a result, people still find the impact of Keith Haring and Jean Michael Basquiat in his works, which is not something fully ignorable. But on the other hand, the influence of Disney and famous cartoon characters in KAWS's work is another striking and robust component. While working as a freelance animator for Disney, he had come across so many cartoon characters that influenced him and his artistic spirit. So he started experimenting with famous cartoon characters like Disney'sMickeyMouseThe Simpsons, SpongeBob, Hello Kitty, The Smurfs, Astro Boy, etc.

The best companions from our childhood days, who are now almost foreigners to us, KAWS had represented them with his unique touch. You can easily return to your childhood days after seeing his art pieces. But, you are not a hardcore cartoon lover; you may not recognize KAWS artwork at first sight. Although they are unique and versatile, the KAWS artwork is difficult to understand. Sometimes they seem disturbing, for their unrealistic "X" eyes, which conveys the impression of death. In short, the KAWS artwork is hard to depict, and if you don't have good taste in modern art and pop culture, you may not understand KAWS.

Kaws Canvas

3) An artist with versatile art knowledge :

Like other contemporary graffiti artists, Brian Donnelly has not limited his boundaries to one type of art form. His KAWS artwork is versatile and widespread. From $15 to $15 million, KAWS artwork comes in multiple price ranges, quality, and designs. After being a successful graffiti artist, he never had to look back. He collaborated with many well-known industries, from fashion to toys and more. His art also got a place in the Paris Fashion Week, showcasing outfits from Dior fashion.

Everything is available for his collection, from t-shirts to toys, shoes to hoodies. The best part of KAWS artwork is that it comes in an affordable and expensive range. So, for those who love to collect expensive toys and art pieces, KAWS is just perfect. Besides, if you do not want to invest millions in KAWS products, you can get your hands on his t-shirts, hoodies, sweaters, and other affordable goods, for under $50.

4) His collectors range from BTS to Bieber :

No wonder today's celebrities love KAWS. If you follow celebrities like Justin Bieber or RM and J-Hope from BTS, you may know their love for KAWS. Celebrities like Suga, J-Hope, RM from BTS, Justin Bieber, Pharrell Williams, Kylie Jenner, Travis Scott are genuine collectors of KAWS artwork. Furthermore, big fashion brands such as Dior, Nike, Commodes Garcons Adorn sometimes collaborate with Brian Donnelly. 

But the down-to-earth personality of Brian Donnelly always keeps him busy making art for his audiences from all classes. He does not let his fame stop him from doing work for people. Once he said to the CNA lifestyle, "I relish the opportunity to share my work with a bigger audience in my capacity as an artist. Art, in my opinion, should be accessible to everyone." He went on to say, "No one is doing anything about inclusion and diversity, despite all the hype. Think about locations that you haven't yet explored."

Kaws Hong-Kong

Collections of KAWS artwork :

KAWS' artwork is in so many public collections. Let's have a look at some of them. 

  • Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX: acquired Where the end Started in 2012
  • Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY: 1 piece, "Along the Way"
  • Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, San Diego, CA: 1 piece
  • One Campus Martius, Detroit, MI: 1 piece, "Waiting"

Conclusion :

So far, it was all about KAWS, his artworks, and collections. Hopefully, you have found this helpful guide enough and collected some much-needed information about KAWS. Explore the artwork and know how it can change your perception of art. Also, if you did not know who KAWS was until now, hopefully, you have understood who he is. To know him and his artwork better, make sure to follow him on social media. 

Kaws Canvas

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