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KAWS Drawings and Watercolor Paintings

American

In the beginning, Brian Donnelly was just a kid from Jersey City, New Jersey, who got into the graffiti thing. KAWS was his tag, chosen simply because he liked the way it looked. Today, KAWS creates all kinds of art — there are KAWS figures and toys, sculptures and colorful drawings, paintings and prints that appropriate pop phenomena like the Smurfs, the Simpsons and SpongeBob SquarePants.

In the late 1990s, the artist, a 1996 graduate of New York’s School of Visual Arts, was making a living as an illustrator for the animation studio Jumbo Pictures. Like young Hansel and Gretel with their trail of crumbs, KAWS would mark the morning route to his downtown Manhattan office with “subvertising,” “interrupting” fashion advertisements by adding his colorful character Bendy, its sinuous length sliding playfully around the likes of a Calvin Klein perfume bottle or supermodel Christy Turlington.

These creations gained a following, to the point where work posted in the morning would disappear by lunchtime. Even in those early days, KAWS was hot on the resale market.

“When I was doing graffiti,” he once explained, “it meant nothing to me to make paintings if I wasn’t reaching people.”

Instead of seeking entrée to the elite New York art world (which, frankly, wasn’t looking for a street artist anyway), KAWS moved to Japan, where a flourishing youth culture welcomed visionaries like him.

In 1999, he partnered with Bounty Hunter, a Japanese toy and streetwear brand, to release his first toy. Companion — an eight-inch-tall vinyl reimagining of Mickey Mouse, with a skull-and-crossbones head and trademark XX eyes — debuted with a limited run of 500. It sold out quickly.

Companion was the first of more than 130 toy designs, which came to include such characters as Chum, Blitz, Be@rbrick, BFF and Milo, each immediately recognizable as KAWS figures by their XX eyes. Fans have proved insatiable. In 2017, MoMA’s online store announced the availability of a limited supply of KAWS Companion figures; as avid collectors logged on to stake their claim, the website crashed — multiple times.

Companion is the most visible of the KAWS posse, appearing over the past decade in new postures and combinations in monumental KAWS statues and other works. These include Along the Way (2013), an 18-foot-tall wooden sculpture of two Companions leaning on each other for support; Together (2016), two Companions in a friendly embrace, which debuted during an exhibition of KAWS’s work at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, in Texas; and KAWS:HOLIDAY (2018), a 92-foot-long inflatable Companion floating on its back in Seoul’s Seokchon Lake. The sculptures were re-created as toys, blurring the lines between art and commerce.

KAWS’s visual language may be drawn from cartoons, but his work doesn’t necessarily evoke childlike joy.

“My figures are not always reflecting the idealistic cartoon view that I grew up on,” he explains in the catalogue for the Fort Worth exhibition. “Companion is more real in dealing with contemporary human circumstances . . . . I think when I’m making work it also often mirrors what’s going on with me at that time.”

KAWS's résumé reads like a record of major 21st-century pop-culture moments. It includes his work with streetwear brands like A Bathing Ape and Supreme; his design for the cover of Kanye West’s 2008 album, 808s & Heartbreak; and his collaboration with designer Kim Jones on the Dior Homme Spring/Summer 2019 collection, Jones’s debut as the fashion brand’s creative director.

Learn how to spot a fake KAWS art toy, and browse authentic KAWS figures, prints, sculptures and mixed media works on 1stDibs.

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Artist: KAWS
Unique Cloud Drawing, hand signed, dated and inscribed to Caroline, in monograph
By KAWS
Located in New York, NY
KAWS Unique Cloud Drawing, inscribed to Caroline Original drawing done in silver marker. Hand signed, inscribed and dated. Held in hardback monograph 11 × 8 3/4 inches Boldly hand s...
Category

2010s Street Art KAWS Drawings and Watercolor Paintings

Materials

Mixed Media, Board, Permanent Marker, Offset

Original (unique) signed and dated drawing held in Australian monograph
By KAWS
Located in New York, NY
KAWS Original drawing held in Australian monograph, 2019 Original marker drawing held inside hardback monograph: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness Boldly signed and dated with original drawing by KAWS on the title page 13 × 10 × 1 1/2 inches Original hand signed drawing held inside the KAWS: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness book. The drawing is unique; the book was published in an unknown number. The drawing can be removed by the framer and framed separately, or it can be kept in the monograph and displayed in a shadow box, or even a coffee table or bookshelf. Or it can be gifted to a special someone. The possibilities are numerous. Monograph information: Working across art, fashion and design, he creates colour-filled paintings, murals, large-scale sculptures, street and public art, products, and streetwear. His work is infused with humour and humanity and is deeply tied to our times. KAWS draws his cast of characters from pop-culture animations to form a distinctive artistic vocabulary. Featuring a new text by Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale...
Category

2010s Street Art KAWS Drawings and Watercolor Paintings

Materials

Mixed Media, Permanent Marker, Lithograph, Offset

No title
By KAWS
Located in Tel Aviv - Jaffa, IL
Original black marker drawing on a page of the book : Companionship in the age of loneliness Handsigned, dated in 2019 and dedicated " To David " The drawing and the book are in m...
Category

2010s Contemporary KAWS Drawings and Watercolor Paintings

Materials

Ink

Untitled
By KAWS
Located in Tokyo, 13
LOT:20230914S04 KAWS [Untitled] Ink on paper ca.2012-2019 Artist signed in lower right Unique 36.4 x 29.5 cm (14.3 x 11.6 in) Provenance: From the artist's agent.
Category

2010s KAWS Drawings and Watercolor Paintings

Materials

Paper, Ink

Untitled
By KAWS
Located in Tokyo, 13
LOT:20230914S03 KAWS [Untitled] Ink on paper ca.2012-2019 Artist signed in lower right Unique 36.3 x 25.7 cm (14.3 x 10.1 in) Provenance: From the artist's agent.
Category

2010s KAWS Drawings and Watercolor Paintings

Materials

Paper, Ink

Untitled
By KAWS
Located in Tokyo, 13
LOT:20230914S02 Pencil on paper ca. 2012-2019 Artist signed in lower right Unique 26.8 x 37.9 cm (10.6 x 14.9 in) Provenance: From the artist's agent.
Category

2010s Contemporary KAWS Drawings and Watercolor Paintings

Materials

Pencil, Paper

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Kaws drawings and watercolor paintings for sale on 1stDibs.

Find a wide variety of authentic KAWS drawings and watercolor paintings available for sale on 1stDibs. You can also browse by medium to find art by KAWS in ink, offset print, paper and more. Much of the original work by this artist or collective was created during the 21st century and contemporary and is mostly associated with the street art style. Not every interior allows for large KAWS drawings and watercolor paintings, so small editions measuring 9 inches across are available. Customers who are interested in this artist might also find the work of and Speedy Graphito. KAWS drawings and watercolor paintings prices can differ depending upon medium, time period and other attributes. On 1stDibs, the price for these items starts at $430 and tops out at $20,000, while the average work can sell for $2,500.
Questions About KAWS Drawings and Watercolor Paintings
  • Irena Orlov ArtMarch 1, 2021
    Kaws' Companion is a clown-like figure based on a Mickey Mouse with X-ed out eyes.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    A KAWS figure is a toy or figurine comparable to an action figure, created by the American artist, Brian Donnelly, who is known professionally as KAWS. Called ‘companions’, the figures are in KAWS’ signature style, and monster-size versions have been seen everywhere from Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Shop a selection of KAWS pieces from some of the world’s top art dealers on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertFebruary 27, 2024
    What is so special about KAWS is that the American artist creates imaginative pieces that appropriate pop phenomena like the Smurfs, the Simpsons and SpongeBob SquarePants. He is particularly well known for his toys, including his debut figure, Companion, inspired by Mickey Mouse. He has also teamed up with streetwear brands like A Bathing Ape and Supreme and collaborated with designer Kim Jones on the Dior Homme Spring/Summer 2019 collection. Find a range of KAWS art on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertFebruary 1, 2024
    KAWS is famous for producing figures, toys, sculptures, drawings, paintings and prints that borrow from pop culture phenomena like the Smurfs, the Simpsons and SpongeBob SquarePants. In 1999, he partnered with Bounty Hunter, a Japanese toy and streetwear brand, to release his first toy. Called Companion, it was an 8-inch-tall vinyl reimagining of Mickey Mouse, with a skull-and-crossbones head and XX eyes. Companion debuted with a limited run of 500 and sold out quickly. The piece was the first of more than 130 toy designs by KAWS, which came to include such characters as Chum, Blitz, Be@rbrick, BFF and Milo, each immediately recognizable as KAWS figures by their XX eyes. Explore a selection of KAWS art on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertFebruary 1, 2024
    The word KAWS means an American artist. Born Brian Donnelly, KAWS adopted the name when he was active as a graffiti artist in New Jersey and New York. In interviews, he has explained that KAWS has no particular meaning to him. He simply chose the name because he liked how the characters looked. He is most well known for his line of whimsical figures with double-X eyes. Explore a range of KAWS art on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMay 14, 2024
    There is no owner of KAWS. KAWS is not a company or a business; it is the name of artist Brian Donnelly. He got his start as a graffiti artist in New Jersey and used the tag KAWS to sign his work because he liked the way it looked. Today, KAWS creates all kinds of art. There are KAWS figures and toys, sculptures and colorful drawings, paintings and prints that appropriate pop culture phenomena like the Smurfs, the Simpsons and SpongeBob SquarePants. Shop a variety of KAWS art on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 16, 2024
    No, Bearbrick and KAWS are not the same. However, they have collaborated with one another many times. KAWS is the pseudonym of the artist Brian Donnelly, while Bearbrick is a brand of collectible designer toys produced by the Japanese company MediCom Toy Incorporated. On 1stDibs, find a variety of KAWS art.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 13, 2024
    KAWS art is the general term for works created by the American artist KAWS. He is best known for his more than 130 toy designs, which include such characters as Chum, Blitz, Be@rbrick, BFF and Milo, each immediately recognizable as his work by their XX eyes. In addition, KAWS produces sculptures, drawings, paintings and prints. On 1stDibs, shop a range of KAWS art.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMay 30, 2024
    KAWS doesn't stand for anything, as the name is not an abbreviation. Rather, it is the artistic alias of Brian Donnelly. The name dates back to the start of his career, when he was a street artist known by his tag, KAWS. In interviews, Donnelly has explained that he chose the name KAWS simply because he likes how it looks. Shop a collection of KAWS art on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    Yes, KAWS are always produced in limited edition runs. KAWS is a New York-based artist who designs limited edition toys and clothing. He is known for creating figurines that mix both high- and low-brow art. Widely popular with pop culture enthusiasts and collectors, KAWS art can only be found through select retailers. Find a range of KAWS art for sale on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    KAWS is an American artist, toy and clothing designer. Born in New Jersey under the name Brian Donnelly, he became interested in graffiti very early on. He earned a BFA and began working for Disney. His artwork gained popularity and he began traveling and designing toys and clothing while continuing art and sculptures. On 1stDibs, find a variety of original artwork from top artists.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 25, 2024
    The artist behind KAWS is Brian Donnelly. As a kid in Jersey City, New Jersey, he got into graffiti art, using KAWS as his tag. Today, KAWS creates a diverse range of art and design objects. There are KAWS figures and toys, sculptures, colorful drawings, paintings and prints that appropriate pop phenomena like the Smurfs, the Simpsons and SpongeBob SquarePants. On 1stDibs, shop a range of KAWS art.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMay 5, 2023
    A KAWS FAMILY set is a collection of four sculptures created by artist Brian “KAWS” Donnelly that come in a set. The term family refers to the fact that the set comprises two large and two small figures, so side by side, they resemble parents and children. Donnelly released the sets on September 13, 2021, in an assortment of colorways. On 1stDibs, find a selection of authentic KAWS sculptures.
  • 1stDibs ExpertFebruary 21, 2024
    What KAWS’s art means is open to interpretation. In the late 1990s, the artist, a 1996 graduate of New York’s School of Visual Arts, was making a living as an illustrator for the animation studio Jumbo Pictures. Like young Hansel and Gretel with their trail of crumbs, KAWS would mark the morning route to his downtown Manhattan office with “subvertising,” “interrupting” fashion advertisements by adding his colorful character Bendy, its sinuous length sliding playfully around the likes of a Calvin Klein perfume bottle or supermodel Christy Turlington. Companion is now the most visible of the KAWS posse, appearing over the past decade in new postures and combinations in monumental works. KAWS’s visual language may be drawn from cartoons, but his work doesn’t necessarily evoke childlike joy. “My figures are not always reflecting the idealistic cartoon view that I grew up on,” he explained in the catalogue for an exhibition at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, in Texas. “Companion is more real in dealing with contemporary human circumstances . . . . I think when I’m making work it also often mirrors what’s going on with me at that time.” On 1stDibs, find a diverse assortment of KAWS art.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    Yes, artist Brian Donnelly, known professionally as KAWS, does make his own art. He admits he has a regimented schedule now that he has children, and finds that this has made him more productive, allowing him to focus on sculptures and paintings in the mornings. On 1stDibs, find a variety of original artwork from top artists.
  • 1stDibs ExpertFebruary 13, 2024
    The most popular KAWS art is a topic that is open to debate. However, his first-ever toy design is a favorite among collectors. Called COMPANION, it is an eight-inch-tall vinyl reimagining of Mickey Mouse with a skull-and-crossbones head and trademark XX eyes. COMPANION debuted with a limited run of 500 and sold out quickly. Find an assortment of KAWS figures on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 16, 2024
    KAWS uses acrylic paint for many of his works. The artist has said in the past that he has custom paints produced for him by the company Golden. When painting his figurines, KAWS uses a technique that makes the brushstrokes virtually invisible. Find a variety of KAWS art on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 3, 2024
    How KAWS makes his sculptures varies. The New Jersey-born artist Brian “KAWS” Donnelly works with a variety of materials, including fiberglass, wood and bronze. By mixing up his techniques and experimenting with different mediums, KAWS can incorporate various colors and textures into his sculptures, figures and toys, and continues to innovate his practice.

    In 1999, KAWS partnered with Bounty Hunter, a Japanese toy and streetwear brand, to release his first toy. Companion was the first of more than 130 toy designs, which came to include such characters as Chum, Blitz, Be@rbrick, BFF and Milo, each immediately recognizable as KAWS figures by their XX eyes. Fans have proved insatiable (and counterfeiters have since taken notice).

    In 2017, MoMA’s online store announced the availability of a limited supply of KAWS Companion figures; as avid collectors logged on to stake their claim, the website crashed — multiple times.

    Find authentic KAWS art on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMay 30, 2024
    KAWS is so popular in China because his artwork appeals to a young demographic that is interested in the bold yet playful style of his figurines, toys, sculptures, prints and other works. The unique street art style of KAWS’s works has broad appeal beyond China as well. His pieces that appropriate elements of pop culture, such as SpongeBob Squarepants and The Simpsons, are especially famous. Shop a wide variety of KAWS art on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    The KAWS Take open edition is a type of vinyl figurine sold as a decorative object or work of art. Arton Contemporary produces the figurines in limited quantities. The open edition Take debuted in 2020. On 1stDibs, shop a selection of KAWS art.

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