Paper Smile

Paper Smile
Signed Print

KAWS

Screenprint, 2012
Signed Print Edition of 100
H 64cm x W 51cm

Critical Review

Paper Smile is a signed screen print in colours produced by the internationally acclaimed American artist and designer, KAWS in 2012. The print depicts a composition of graphic shapes rendered in dark colours, with purple, grey and black dominating the piece. When looked at closely, the viewer can discern two large cartoon eyes. KAWS adds his signature crosses over the pupils, one in red, one in green, which contrast with the white of the eyes. It seems like the oblong shapes are obstructing a face, however it is difficult to make out exactly what lies behind them.

The print captures the essence of KAWS’ unique artistic style, characterised by an emphasis on colour, use of bold gestural line and incorporation of a set of distinct graphics. Crossed out eyes are a trademark element of KAWS’ visual language and the artist often adds them to the cartoon characters depicted in his prints.

KAWS’ style was heavily influenced by graffiti and street art. The artist started experimenting with graffiti from a young age, spray painting buildings in New Jersey where he grew up. KAWS continued to hone his graffiti skills in New York where he moved in the late 1990s. KAWS would unlock cases of adverts that he found in phone booths and bus stops and deface the adverts, reconfiguring them with his own graphic style. KAWS’ love for graffiti marks this print and harks back to the early stages of his artistic career.