Brian Donnelly (born 1974), known professionally as Kaws (stylized as KAWS), is an American artist and designer. His work includes repeated use of a cast of figurative characters and motifs, some dating back to the beginning of his career in the 1990s, initially painted in 2D and later realized in 3D. Some of his characters are his own creations while others are reworked versions of existing icons.
History with the Macy's Parade
In 2012, Macy's would commission Kaws, a New Jersey-based artist, to create a brand-new balloon for the Parade's Blue Sky Gallery. It was announced in May of that year that a 28-foot tall, 41-foot long, 24-foot wide of Kaws' most famous creation, Companion, would fly high above the streets of New York City.
“Companion is a subject of mine that has been exhibited the world over, from Atlanta to Hong Kong, manifesting in sculptures that range from six inches to 16 feet,” said KAWS. “I’m very proud that the largest Companion to date will debut, soaring in the New York City skyline.”
“KAWS brings a unique visual aesthetic to the line-up of giant character balloons that will help bring accessible, contemporary art to millions,” said Amy Kule, executive producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. She added, “Throughout his career KAWS has embraced and redefined pop culture imagery to create new meaning and interactions with established works. Our collaboration will be another exciting entry in the Macy’s Parade’s Blue Sky Gallery series.”
Due to the usual one-year tenure of Blue Sky Gallery balloons, Companion was retired after his only flight in the 2012, and the balloon has yet to make another appearance.
Despite the balloon's retirement, parts of the balloon's production process would be used in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 90th Anniversary Special in 2016.