21 questions

Artist KAWS Makes His Dog Do Donald Trump Impersonations

Name:  Brian Donnelly, a.k.a. KAWS
Artist and designer. He designed the Moonman for this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, and some of his new work can currently be seen at the Mary Boone Gallery and Galerie Perrotin through December 21.

Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional? 
Woody Allen. I tried to avoid saying Woody Allen because I thought it was too obvious, but every other person I thought of doesn’t define New York like I feel Woody does.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York?  
That’s really hard to answer. I do find myself going to Café Colette in Williamsburg quite often to have their chicken sandwich for lunch. To me, it’s the best meal. I’m a simple person. I like the comfort of things I’m familiar with.  
In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job? 
I make the stuff I dream about come to fruition. 
What was your first job in New York?  
I handed out flyers in clubs for parties at the club Quik and the Bldg when I probably 15 or 16. The kids in Jersey City that I hung out with — guys I did graffiti with who were a little older than me — started to go to clubs and I tagged along. The money for handing out the flyers was bullshit; it was more about going to the clubs and getting in everywhere.

What’s the last thing you saw on Broadway?  
I don’t really see shows on Broadway, I couldn’t even tell you what’s on Broadway at the moment. The last show I saw Off-Off Broadway was The Lying Lesson with Mickey Sumner and Carol Kane. I ended up there because of my wife.  
Do you give money to panhandlers?  
Sometimes, I think I’m really random in my reasoning for giving. 

What’s your drink?  
Dark and Stormy. I have a bunch of friends that when we get together, that’s what we make. But I usually just drink wine when I’m at home.  
How often do you prepare your own meals?  
Almost never, I cook about as well as I drive. I eat out constantly and when I don’t, my wife is the pro chef. After spending the whole day in the studio, it’s nice to get out for some air. 

What’s your favorite medication?  
Ambien, mostly for when I fly to Hong Kong or Tokyo. I find it impossible to get on schedule without it. 
What’s hanging above your sofa?  
A single lightbulb. My sofa is in the middle of the room, and when I was renovating the apartment almost ten years ago I never found a light fixture for the ceiling that I liked, so I had the bulb just hanging from the wire, and eventually I got used to it. I collect a lot of art, so that’s what’s on the walls. Probably the piece I’m most excited about is the Peter Saul Double De Kooning Duck. It’s gorgeous. There’s nothing like living with original pieces. 

How much is too much to spend on a haircut?  
I haven’t spent money on a haircut in ages. Years ago I bought a nice set of clippers and haven’t visited a barber since. 
When’s bedtime?  
I usually get to sleep around midnight or one in the morning. I’m either getting old or the days are getting more full — possibly both. 
Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?  
I never spent much time in Times Square, old or new. I think I would avoid them both.  
What do you think of Donald Trump?  
When I think of Donald Trump, it makes me think of how when I hold my dog’s elbow between my fingers I can make her arm straighten, and her paw shoots forward so it looks like she’s motioning Donald’s “your fired” hand gesture. (I usually say “your fired” while doing this.) 
What do you hate most about living in New York?  
There’s a lot of things that are terrible — black ice, smelly air pockets, the grind, the expense of living here. But with nothing negative you can’t appreciate the positive.

Who is your mortal enemy?  
I don’t have one, lucky me. But I’ll say time.  
When’s the last time you drove a car?  
I never got a driver’s license, but it’s on my to-do list. Last year, I took a road trip with my wife and she drove the whole time, and that made me feel pretty horrible. It was a great trip, I just felt guilty. (To answer your question, I only drove a car once or twice when I was a teenager.) 
How has the Wall Street crash affected you?  
I couldn’t tell you, I don’t think that it has. (Knock on wood.) 
Times, Post, or Daily News?  
Times, just online and I mostly skim. I always look at the Arts section and I always look at Real Estate.  
Where do you go to be alone?  
I like working the weekends in my studio with nobody there. 
What makes someone a New Yorker?  
Endless optimism.

Artist KAWS’s 21 Questions