In the latest episode of Blueprint, Complex‘s Noah Callahan-Bever picks the brain of one of the best minds in modern design, Brian Donnelly, better known as KAWS. In the 25-minute interview, the New Jersey native looks back on his early days skipping school to go do graffiti, the meaning behind the name KAWS and how he came up with his subversive signature designs.

From there, KAWS discusses his day-to-day creative process, turning his designs into toys, awards and giant size sculptures, and his iconic collaborations with Kanye West, Pharrell, UNIQLO, Jordan brand and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Even with more than two decades under his belt, KAWS still strives to improve his craft. “I kinda like what I’m doing, and I just want to do what I’m doing better,” he says.

Watch below…

Growing up in the Village in the '90s—a world without internet; where information was passed down from elders, if at all—my friends and myself were wrapped with wonder by the burgeoning, and extremely mysterious world of street art. By that point graffiti was, of course, omnipresent, and we had been diligent students of Subway Art, Style Wars, and the 70s and 80s kings, for years. But what emerged in the mid-90s was new, different, and so, so exciting. Stickers that said "Andre The Giant Has a Posse" popped up everywhere, while whole walls found themselves draped with reductive block letters that read COST & REVS. In our back yard—downtown Manhattan—elegant, but cartoon-y snake characters started wrapping the models in bus stop and phone booth advertisements all over. The last being the most fascinating, we had no idea how they got there, and more importantly we had no idea how to get them out of there! (not for a lack of trying, LOL.) No clue how he knew this, but I vividly remember in the Spring of '97 @SnafuJunkSci informing me that an artist named @KAWS was behind 'Bendy.' So when I met him a half dozen years later, at a pizza party in the home of our mutual friends @toddjamesreas + @testifybooks, I was straight up star struck. To me, dude was a living legend already. Which is why, 15 years later, I consider it a true gift to not only have witnessed his ascent from local icon to Street Art phenom to the motherf*cking face of Modern Art first hand, but to have had the opportunity to collaborate on no less than THREE certified classic @Complex covers. However, more important than any of that, I'm grateful to be able count him among my friends. Understated and modest but supremely confident and carefully considered, KAWS's approach to art and brand is a case study in nonchalant, flawless execution that I look to daily for inspiration. If you have 30mins, click the link in bio, and hear how he carefully crafted his career, and bore his iconic X X onto our worldwide conscious.

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