Piranhas When You’re Sleeping is a signed lithograph produced by renowned American artist and designer, KAWS. Made in 2016, the print depicts the outline of a cartoon dolphin. Instead of rendering the dolphin in a realistic style, KAWS showcases his creative flair by filling the body of the aquatic creature with a variety of graphic shapes in bold and vibrant colours.
The print is part of the Outlines collection, a body of works which each take the outline of a recognisable cartoon character which KAWS then fills with his own graphic designs. The collection captures the artist’s unique visual language and style. KAWS’ artworks can be characterized by their emphasis on colour, bold gestural lines and incorporation of a set of repeated motifs, cartoon characters and distinctive graphics. When looked at closely, the viewer can detect KAWS’ iconic crosses in Piranhas When You’re Sleeping, as well as sections of various cartoon figures.
The Outlines collection reflects KAWS’ practise of appropriating famous cartoon characters, which KAWS has done with other cartoons, such as The Simpsons, SpongeBob Square Pants and the Smurfs. The artist is also well-known for creating his own impressive cast of stock cartoon characters such as Companion, Chum, Accomplice and Bendy. The creation of these icons resonates strongly with the work of Keith Haring and his collection of repeated icons and motifs, such as the radiant baby, angel, flying devil and barking dog.