Next up in the SVA Features series is artist and designer KAWS (BFA 1996 Illustration), who started out as a street artist and has since become an art world superstar. His work includes repeated use of a cast of figurative characters and motifs—some his original creations, others reworked versions of existing pop culture icons—and his paintings, screen prints, and small and large-scale sculptures have been exhibited in major galleries and museums worldwide.
KAWS’ work has also been seen everywhere from The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (a balloon of his famous Companion character floats in it) to the MTV Video Music Awards (he reimagined the classic Moonman statuette). His commercial collaborations range from limited edition toys to skate decks, and in the past year alone he designed a basketball court in New York City for Nike, worked with Michael Jordan’s brand to create the new Air Jordan 4, and teamed up with clothing company Uniqlo to offer his take on Snoopy and other beloved Peanuts characters.
In the video below, KAWS talks about his beginnings as a street artist, the influence of New York City and fellow alumnus Keith Haring on his work, how he “lucked out” by going to SVA and more.