Wednesday, April 15, 2009

dissecting kaws

Who is Kaws?

Kaws is Brian Donnelly, a New York-based graffiti artist and toy designer.

What is his claim to fame?

In the late 90s, Kaws started to alter bus stop and phone booth posters. Armed with a 'master key', he would open the glass casings, steal the posters, paint on them, and put them back. Watch a video docu here.

Soon, New York commuters became familar with his work. Posters for fashion brands such as Guess, Bebe, YSL, Calvin Klein, etc. suddenly had images of skulls with 'x'-ed out eyes painted over the models' faces. Sometimes, this skull head was part of a sperm-like figure that wrapped itself around the models. Click here to see one. (Note: this is the reason why the bus stop is a recurring theme in his toy designs.)

How did he get into toy designing and street fashion?

After winning an artist grant from Pernod Liquor, he quit his Disney job and traveled to Tokyo where he collaborated with street fashion brands such as Undercover, Hectic and A Bathing Ape, as well as toy brands such as Medicom. Soon after, he opened his own clothing store called Original Fake at the fashionable Aoyama district in Tokyo. His retailer neighbors include Prada, Comme De Garcons, D&G, Hysteric Glamour, Issey Miyake, BAPE, etc.

How successful is he as an artist?

Kaws's fame as an artist is not credited to a string of art galleries exhibitions. It is a product of his various collaborations with cult fashion brands and the designer toy world – with the help of the Internet. Recently though, his exposure via art galleries has started to progress, with shows at the Gering & Lopez Gallery in New York, Gallerie Emmnuel Perrotin in Miami, and Honore Fraser Gallery in L.A. (According to the LA Times, Kaw's Honore Fraser show last February 2009 was mobbed!)

Who collects his art?

Rapper/Producer/Songwriter Pharell Williams, BAPE owner Nigo, and Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, among others.

Where can one find his work on the Internet?,, and Gering & Lopez Gallery. But you'll find the most number of pics at this Kibrobot Discussion link.

What are his latest collaborations?

He just designed a pair of shoes for Marc Jacobs's new line. And the artworks for Kanye West's new album.

How important is this Kaws 'Dissected' Bearbrick to collectors?

Well, important enough for people to line up overnight for (below) – some Hong Kong collectors even flew to Taipei! Crazy isn't it? Read about the launch day here. :-)

In my collection, there are three different Kaws Bearbricks – two of which are based on Kaws's 'Original Companion' toy figure.

But this one (top, right) based on the 'Dissected Companion' is my favorite. For the first time, I actually enjoyed looking at entrails – lung, liver, intestine, pancreas, heart, aorta and all. :-D

Info from i-D (The stepping Stone Issue), The New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles Times / Kaws pic from / Launch day pic from


sunny said...

ang gandaaaaaaaa!!! have you seen the 200% soc die-cast bearbrick? hayyy. i'm ordering na! said...

Sunny, just got this one on eBay. I'm very curious about the SOC die-cast Bearbrick – haven't seen a pic. Where did you see it? I also want one! :-D

sunny said...

action city has been promoting it! said...

Sunny, a reader/friend from Shanghai just emailed me a pic of it – I will certainly get one! Thanks for the tip! :-)