KAWS definitely wasn’t created in the past; we’ve all seen variations of the skull with a cross-eyed look that is the most cherished icons, such as Snoopy, Mickey Mouse and The Simpsons. While its references to pop culture brought to life what is important to zeitgeists of from the past and present, but its ties with mainstream fashion and entertainment brands have made this KAWS brand into an iconic brand.
Recently the firm KAWS x Uniqlo relationship launched the new collection consisting of UT graphic t-shirts together with Sesame Street.
The event took place a few days after KAWS was heavily included in the Dior Homme spring/summer 2019 runway show, which was a deliberate choice considering that it was the the creative director Kim Jones’ debut collection for the house.
The widespread use of KAWS could pose an issue for consumers, who could therefore purchase the brand name with no idea of what it means. That raises the question why everyone is vying for a piece merchandise that has a connection to KAWS? And, if so then, are KAWS really democratic (i.e. easily accessible to anyone to purchase) or just another band of limited edition-ness that jacks up prices for clothing and other products?
A professional illustrator, Brian Donnelly is the person behind the mask with the cross-eyed eyes. In the 90s, New York City was covered in advertising which took up a large amount of the city’s physical space, which could have been used to street performers as canvas to paint. Instead of turning to back alleys or beneath bridges Donnelly was known to “deface” bus stop and billboards and create characters such as The Companion, Bendy and The Accomplice, aswell being known as KAWS.
If you’re curious about the meaning behind the name “KAWS” isn’t anything other than the letters Donnelly thought, when put together, and suited visually. The same sentiment seems to be applicable for the characters he has animated. The artist has stated during interviews that he would like the characters to become universal that they’re immediately recognizable for his viewers regardless of their backgrounds.
It is possible that KAWS may not be so literal as it appears; The Companion, for instance, is prone to show its face covered. face, which shows the same cross-shaped detail on its back hands. A skull-like figure placing its hands on the face, revealing its “death” does not seem like a great idea for a start.
This exposure gave Donnelly the chance to create a tiny range of toys for Japanese clothing manufacturer Bounty Hunter, which became famous collectibles. They were priced between US$50 and 100 dollars each at the time it was first went on sale, these toys will now be selling for 10 to 20 times the price they were originally sold for.
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KAWS, the name Donnelly might have assumed, proceeded to strike deals with many of the most well-known names in the world of entertainment. Toys such as his collection made him think about his skills since he could not be able to work in a two-dimensional manner anymore Thinking about form and shape prompted him to imagine bigger things like the idea that the day he could build an 15-foot (about 4.6m) taller replica that resembled The Companion.
Since 2004 KAWS has been sought out to collaborate with a variety of hip hop artists, the most notable is Kanye West for the album cover for Heartbreaks and 808s and designed shoes to Nike as well as Marc Jacobs, collaborated with fashion labels A Bathing Ape, Comme Des Garcons, Undercover, and Vans mixing up characters from the TV show The Smurfs, Snoopy, Mickey Mouse, Spongebob Squarepants, Family Guy, the Michelin Man and The MTV Moonman Video Awards… just to mention just a few.
Beyond the home run he hit in numerous areas in entertainment KAWS was a sensation with the 14-foot inflatable during Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2012 in New York. It marked the first occasion he’d stepped into the mainstream Many who had been watching the parade didn’t recognize him at the time.
One common thread that appears to have recurred throughout KAWS throughout his career is the conflict between the establishment and social commentary. Can it be possible or appropriate for someone who’s work is all focused on subverting popular culture to also gain privileges that come with it? Is it possible to argue that it’s essential to be part of the established culture to be able to affect it?
Maybe KAWS could be the Vetements (it’s nothing more than clothing) from the world of art. It’s interesting to consider that the same critique of KAWS has also been a part of the lives of his predecessors. Think of Jeff Koons or Keith Haring who’s styles are so well-known that it’s a shame to deny their influence.
In an interview in a recent interview with Complex, KAWS explains his purpose in the case of Uniqlo, “I felt like I needed to take action to be more honest level.” If nothing other reason, the desire for democracy is a beautiful thing that we all can be grateful for. The recent work he has done with Dior Homme and Uniqlo UT is a testimony to his commercial and artistic reach however, in the grand world of things it’s just the beginning of his legendary career.