KAWS developed a passion for popular culture in art and design early in life and studied illustration at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan in the early 1990s. By then he was already well versed in graffiti, having frequently tagged walls and freight trains with the letters K A W S. KAWS continued developing his visual vocabulary conceiving his soft skull with crossbones and crossed-out eyes, which would become a signature gesture. After college, he worked as a freelancer for animations studios, which further catalysed his appropriation of iconic characters from popular culture and comic books.
KAWS regularly exhibits in museums and galleries internationally and his work continues to appeal to a loyal fan base as well as the commercial sector. He has collaborated with industry leaders including Nike, Vans, MTV and Kanye West.