KAWS typically depicts his characters in a powerless or shy pose, with hands covering their noses.

KAWS revolutionized the art world with his works. He had solo exhibitions at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Modern Art Museum, High Museum of Art, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. 

Through his paintings, drawings, and sculptures, KAWS characterized the forms and colors that reflect current cultural trends. Brian Donnelly, professionally known as KAWS, is an American designer and artist. His artworks have been widely exhibited at art galleries and museums. He is also a most sought-after creator and graphic artist of apparel, limited-edition toys, and other products. 

Date and Place of Birth

Brian Donnelly was born on November 4, 1974, in Jersey City, New Jersey, United States. He was also raised in Jersey City. There is no information about his parents and siblings. Brian Donnelly is married to Julia Chiang, and they have a son, Sunny Donnelly. 

Early Life and Education

Brian Donnelly attended St. Anthony High School. He then went to the School of Visual Arts of New York City to get his Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts in illustration in 1996. Donnelly started to be interested in graffiti during his elementary days. He spent many hours copying graffiti images of famous graffiti artists on paper. 

When he was a teenager, Donnelly created a tag for himself - KAWS. He painted these letters on the roof of one of his school's area buildings to see them while attending his high school classes. He chose to tag himself as KAWS because he liked how the letters looked together. 

Finding Comfort in Art

After graduating from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in NYC, KAWS briefly worked as an animator (freelance) for Jumbo Pictures. He painted the backgrounds for the animated series Daria and Doug and 101 Dalmatians. KAWS moved to New York and ventured into graffiti. He considered graffiti art as the first step to learning his craft. 

KAWS continued to have a day job as an animator. At night, he was a graffiti artist. KAWS started making spoofs of political and corporate advertisements (subvertising) on billboards, phone booths, and bus shelters. KAWS has also penetrated Tokyo, Berlin, London, and Paris. 

KAWS' work is characterized by his emphasis on line and color, as well as distinctive graphics. He repeatedly used an "x" on the ears, nose, and hands of his characters. He modified the looks of cartoon icons such as Mickey Mouse, Smurfs, Michelin Man, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Snoopy in his works. 

He typically depicts his characters in a powerless and/or shy pose, with hands covering their noses. In the latter years of the 1990s, KAW started designing and creating limited-edition vinyl toys. His toys became an instant hit in the global toy-collecting community. He also designed clothing and toys for famous companies, including Nike, Vans, Undercover, Original Fake, Comme des Garcons, and Kung Faux. 

The clothing items he designed for Uniqlo and Nike in 2017 were inspired by his unique and easily recognizable iconography of the cartoon world. 

KAWS' works repeatedly used a cast of figurative motifs and characters. They were initially painted in 2D and later rendered in 3D. He created some of the characters he used in his works, while others were modified versions of existing cartoon icons. 

KAW drew inspiration in pursuing his art from high-art painters, including Claes Oldenburg, Gerhard Richter, and Chuck Close. KAW has been compared to renowned artist Andy Warhol because his artworks were a combination of fine art and commercialism. 

KAWS' sculptures were also extremely popular. They were a few inches to about 10 meters tall. KAWS used various materials for his sculptures, including aluminum, fiberglass, bronze, wood, and a steel pontoon inflatable raft ( something like an inflatable boat). 


KAWS revolutionized the art world with his works. He had solo exhibitions at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Modern Art Museum, High Museum of Art, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. 

His works have also been exhibited in international galleries, including the Honor Fraser Gallery, Galerie Perrotin, and galleries in London, Paris, Tokyo, and Berlin. 

He was also featured in Galerie Perrotin and Honor Fraser Gallery. His work has been displayed in London, Paris, Tokyo, and Berlin. 

Although critics always dismissed his artworks, KAWS has gained a considerable following. Collectors of his artworks have helped him become more popular. They have also helped his paintings get high auction prices. Many of his auctioned paintings fetch millions of dollars. 

In the Woods (2002) 

This painting shows a modified and darker version of the Disney Princess, Snow White. This painting shows Snow White surrounded by forest animals. This painting was sold at Christie's New York in 2019 for $3.9 million. 

Untitled (Kimpsons) (2003)

This painting is part of KAWS' "Kimpson" series. KAW modifies the sinister-looking Simpson family. The painting is set against a dark blue background. This painting was sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong for $509,600. 

Untitled (Kimpsons # (2003)

This painting features the entire Simpsons TV family. KAW stylized each figure with his signature "X" eyes and cross-bone skull. This interpretation made the characters appear on the living room couch as comatose beings. This painting was sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong for $2.2 million. 

Untitled (Kimpsons #1) (2004)

This is part of the "Kimpsons" series KAW produced with NIGO®, a Japanese entrepreneur, art collector, and street fashion figure. The painting features the characters of the TV show Simpsons. This painting was sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong in 2019 for $617,600. 

Untitled (Fatal Group) (2004)

This painting features the refigured characters of the popular 1970s- 1980s TV family of The Fat Albert Show. This painting features the characters with arms raised and heads with his trademark "X." This painting became a big-ticket item and was sold for $2.3 million at the Phillips New York. 

The KAWS Album (2005)

The KAWS Album showcases the Simpsons honoring the cover of the Beatles' album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club. This painting was commissioned and sold by NIGO, a Japanese streetwear influencer, for $14.8 million. 

Kurf (Hot Dog) (2008)

This painting shows a version of the cartoon woodland creature from The Smurfs. Kurf, the main character, is featured with KAWS' signature crossed-out eyes preparing to eat a hot dog. This painting was sold for $1.5 million in 2019 at Sotheby's New York. 

Kurfs (Tangle) (2009)

This painting shows "Kurf," a Smurf character, entangled in a neon green vine. Set against an animated background, Kurk is struggling to break free. This painting was sold for $2.7 million in 2019 at Christie's New York. 

The Walk Home (2012)

This painting shows SpongeBob Square Pants screaming with his hands raised. He is surrounded by several hands, and his pupils are crossed. This painting sold in 2016 for $6 million at Phillips New York. 

Greatest Achievements

KAWS is an artist to watch. He is so popular, to the point, that the website of the Museum of Modern Art in New York crashed during the release of his limited-edition toys. Beginning his career as a street artist allowed him to straddle the design and art worlds in his paintings, murals, sculptures, and prints. 

Art critics have repeatedly compared KAWS to iconic artists such as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Both artists started their careers as street artists. KAWS's interaction with imagery with global brands and consumer products drove art critics to compare him to Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol.