After graduation from School of Visual Arts in New York, KAWS briefly worked for Disney as a freelance animator painting backgrounds.
He began his career as a graffiti artist growing up in Jersey City. After moving to New York City in the 1990s, KAWS started subverting imagery on billboards, bus shelters and phone booth advertisements. These reworked ads were at first left alone, lasting for up to several months, but as KAWS’ popularity skyrocketed, the ads became increasingly sought after.
He has also done work in Paris, London, Berlin and Tokyo.
KAWS has participated in many commercial collaborations with Burton, Nike, Vans, DC Shoes. Designed album covers for Towa Tei, Cherie, Clipse and Kanye West.
KAWS’ acrylic paintings and sculpture have many repeating images, all meant to be universally understood, surpassing languages and cultures. One of KAWS’ early series, Package Paintings, was made in 2000. This series, entitled The Kimpsons, subverted the famous American cartoon, The Simpsons. In addition, KAWS has reworked other familiar icons such as Mickey Mouse, the Michelin Man, the Smurfs, and SpongeBob SquarePants.