Brian Donnelly is best known as the artist KAWS, a New York-based artist whose artwork and designs have become internationally collectible. He is a popular artist whose work is exhibited in museums and galleries internationally. By definition, his art rests somewhere between fine art and global commerce. To say his creations – from toys, to clothing, to drawings, to limited edition prints, sculpture and unique artworks are widely collected and intensely pursued worldwide would be a massive understatement. Kaws is as much an international phenomenon as a persona or artist.

Brian Donnelly was born in 1974 in Jersey City and graduated from New York’s, School of Visual Arts where he obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in illustration. After graduating in 1996, Donnelly worked for Disney as a freelance animator. There he had the opportunity to refine his cartoon-like imagery and learn his craft.

As a graffiti artist, he moved to New York City permanently in the early 1990’s and began focusing on creating highly colorful, bold and subversive public images, painting on bus shelters, phone booth advertisements and billboards around Manhattan. As his imagery became more and more recognizable, his notoriety and popularity soared.

In the late 1990s, KAWS began to render his characters as limited edition vinyl toys. They became instantly collectible with the global art toy-collecting community. In Asia, and in particular in Japan, his designs reached a fever pitch with collectors scrambling to collect anything created by the artist that they could find.

KAWS has spent his career designing toys and clothing for companies including Original Fake, A Bathing Ape, Undercover, Kung Faux, Nike, Vans, and Comme des Garcons. In the early, 2000s he became further well-known when he rendered familiar movie and television cartoon icons in his own style, including Mickey Mouse, the Michelin Man, the Smurfs, Sponge Bob Square Pants and characters from The Simpsons.

As if speaking for a generation brought up on television characters and cartoon images, Kaws has shown his artwork internationally and is highly praised for his paintings, prints and sculptures. One of the more popular KAWS sculpture is that of a gray scale figure based on the Mickey Mouse whose face is obscured by his both hands. This image was validated when incorporated as a monumental sized balloon for the 2012 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

KAWS museum exhibitions include solo shows at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, High Museum of Art, Modern Art Museum, and the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. His artwork – while widely collected and intensely collected – can be found in fine galleries worldwide. The artist currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.