Brian McCarty is a photographer, art director, and producer known for his unique work with toys. While comfortable in the studio, Brian's preferred approach is to integrate toy characters into real-life situations through the use of forced perspective, working in-camera with minimal postproduction. McCarty creates his photographs by sometimes traveling to exotic locations, including active war zones. 

Since graduating Parsons School of Design in 1996, Brian has worked for and with some of the biggest names in the toy industry, including Mattel, Hasbro, Disney, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon. His unique photography has not only driven millions in sales, it has also earned wide-recognition and praise within the art world. His first monograph Art-Toys was published in 2010 and featured collaborations with toymakers and designers who also use toys as mediums for artistic expression. Brian’s independent series War-Toys launched soon after in 2011. Since then, he has collaborated with children from Iraq, Syria, Israel, the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Lebanon to tell their stories, working through local and international NGOs and UN agencies.

Brian’s work has been exhibited by museums and universities, acquired by prominent collectors, and covered by The New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Wired, Al-Jazeera, Reuters, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, and countless other publications around the world. He’s appeared on CNN, PRI’s The World, PBS News Hour, BBC World Service, and CBC’s Q. Brian has earned a Fulbright, grants from the U.S. Department of State, and indirect support from the NEA. He has lectured at the Carter Presidential Library, New School, Sesame Workshop, American University of Beirut, and TEDx. He’s seen his work used as a billboard in Times Square and stolen by ISIS for online propaganda. Brian understands how much toys shape and reflect our culture.



Brian McCarty
brian [at]

Fine-Art and Media Inquiries
Dana Graham
dana [at]

McCarty PhotoWorks
West Hollywood, CA


Commissioned Work

Disney Feature Animation • UNICEF • Nickelodeon • IOM / UN Migration Agency • Warner Brothers • Disney Consumer Products • Cartoon Network • Hasbro • McCann-Erickson Worldwide • MTV • Hi Fructose • Disney Interactive • Rockstar Games • Adult Swim • Southwest Airlines • Vibe • Kidrobot • Entertainment Weekly • PDN • Spin Master • Tokidoki • Upper Deck • Rhino Records • Time Out NY


Select Exhibitions

-Scuolabus, Gibellina PhotoRoad International Festival, Gibellina, Italy
-War-Toys: Israel, West Bank, Gaza Strip, Marshall M Fredericks Sculpture Museum, Saginaw Valley State University, University Center, MI

-Juger/Créer: Regards sur la Cour Pénale Internationale, Cité internationale des arts, Paris, France
-WAR-TOYS: Israel, West Bank, Gaza Strip, Clear Lake Art Gallery, University of Houston, Texas
-War is Only Half the Story: Ten Years of the Aftermath Project, Norton Center for the Arts, Centre College, Danville, KY
-War is Only Half the Story: Ten Years of the Aftermath Project, Getty Gallery, Los Angeles Central Library, Los Angeles, CA
-War is Only Half the Story: Ten Years of the Aftermath Project, Albin O. Kuhn Gallery, University of Maryland, Baltimore, ML

-War is Only Half the Story: Ten Years of the Aftermath Project, PhotoVille, Brooklyn, NY
-War and Toys, PolyU Design, Hong Kong
-Métamorphoses, L'Université de Franche-Comté, Besançon, France
-Turn the Page: Ten Years of Hi-Fructose, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA
-WAR-TOYS: Israel, West Bank, Gaza Strip, Woodbury Art Museum, Orem, UT
-Turn the Page: Ten Years of Hi-Fructose, Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH

-Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose, Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Virginia Beach, VA
-WAR-TOYS: Israel, West Bank, Gaza Strip, Main Gallery, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little Rock, AR
-WAR-TOYS: Israel, West Bank, Gaza Strip, CF Webber Gallery, College of Central Florida, Ocala, FL

-Baby Tattoo: Carnival of Astounding Art, Oceanside Museum of Art, Oceanside, CA
-The Art of Toys: A Left Coast Retrospective, Museum of Art & History, Lancaster, CA

-War Games, V&A Museum of Childhood, London, UK
-WAR-TOYS: Israel / West Bank / Gaza Strip, Peanut Underground Gallery, New York City

-War Games, Volksmuseum Schleswig, Schleswig, Germany
-WAR-TOYS, Richard F. Brush Art Gallery, St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York

-Freedom to Create, The Company’s Gardens, Cape Town, South Africa

-Art-Toys, La Luz de Jesus Gallery, Los Angeles, California
-Under the Influence: He Man and the Masters of the Universe, Gallery 1988, Los Angeles, California

-MANIFEST HOPE: DC, Irvine Contemporary Gallery, Washington, DC
-/amaranth/, Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia, Italy

-Kaiju Monster Invasion Miami, ArtCenter / South Florida, Miami, Florida
-Hi Fructose, CoproNason Gallery, Santa Monica, California

-Beyond Ultraman, Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena, California
-Bitters and Sweets, Gallery 1988, Los Angeles, California
-i am 8-bit, Gallery 1988, Los Angeles, California

-Toys: New Designs From the Art Toy Revolution, The Showroom NYC, New York City

-Making it Real, Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine
-Making it Real, Bayly Art Museum, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
-Making it Real, Bakalar Gallery, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, Massachusetts
-Making it Real, Emerson Gallery, Hamilton College, Clinton, New York

-Making it Real, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut
-Making it Real, The Reykjavik Municipal Art Museum, Reykjavik, Iceland

-Habitus, Abito, Abitare, Progetto Arte, Centro Per L'Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato, Italy
-paura®, Centro Per L'Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato, Italy
-KON©EPT, Galerija Gradska & Umjetnicki Pavilijon, Zagreb, Croatia
-Humans All, Main Gallery, Parsons School of Design, New York City


Select Publications

“This war photographer uses toys to tell child survivors’ stories.” PBS News Hour. 24 July 2018

 Basma, Ayat. “Artist captures war as seen by children - toys included.” Reuters. 10 July 2018

 Terry, Sara, ed. War is Only Half the Story: Ten Years of the Aftermath Project. Birmingham. Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2018

Serafini, Marta. “Se la guerra non è un gioco, così i bambini di Mosul hanno vissuto gli orrori dell’assedio.” Corriere Della Sera. 29 August 2017 

Tudor, Silke. “WAR TOYS.” Hi Fructose Vol. 43, Spring 2017: 80-93 (Feature)

Enfield, Lizzie. "How children use play to make sense of terrorism." The Guardian. 16 July 2016

Teicher, Jordan. "These Images Show How Young Syrian Refugees See War." Slate. 11 July 2016

The Editors. "The 20 Most Powerless People in the Art World: 2015 Edition." Hyperallergic. 31 December 2015

Celis, Barbara. "El ISIS también hace terrorismo publicitario." El País. 21 December 2015

McDonald, Soraya Nadia. "What do you do when ISIS steals your antiwar art to recruit members?" The Washington Post. 8 December 2015

Kwong, Jess. "The Heartbreaking Story Behind An Image ISIS Passed Off As Its Own." Refinery29. 20 November 2015

Eros, Diane, prod. "What do you do when ISIS hijacks your art?." q with Shad. Kabango, Shadrach, dir. CBC Radio One. 4 November 2015

Kilstein, Marc, prod. "What happens when IS steals your photo?." Boston Calling. BBC World Service. 30 October 2015

Jaafari, Shirin, prod. "This photographer was astonished to find his photo in ISIS propaganda." The World. Werman, Marco, dir. Public Radio International. 27 October 2015

McCarty, Brian. War-Toys: Israel, West Bank, Gaza Strip. Los Angeles. McCarty PhotoWorks, 2013

Kilston, Lyra. "Powerful Photos Show War Through the Eyes of Children." Wired. 3 December 2013

"WAR-TOYS: Tiny Toys Reenact War Scenes." ABC News. 8 November 2013

Pisa, Per Luigi. "'War-Toys', i conflitti giocattolo e la guerra vista dai bambini." Huffington Post Italia. 8 November 2013 

Voynovskaya, Natasha. "Preview: Brian McCarty's 'War Toys: Israel, West Bank, Gaza Strip'." Hi Fructose. 29 October 2013 

Namdar, Asieh. "Art Project Combines War, Therapy -- and Toys." 3 November 2011 (Feature)

"War-Toys: Conflict through the eyes of children" CNN Photo Blog. 3 November 2011 (Feature)

Platt, Olivia. “WAR-TOYS: Fake Plastic Soldiers.” Don’t Panic. 1 August 2011 

Okes, Thomas. “Brian McCarty’s Playful Therapy.” One Small Seed Issue 21: 43-48

McCarty, Brian. Art-Toys: Photographs by Brian McCarty. Los Angeles. Baby Tattoo Books, 2010 (Monograph)

Strathmann, Martin. “Das Siehst Du Ganz Falsch!“ FHM Germany April 2010: 24

Rivadeneira, Jamie, ed. Three Apples: An Exhibition Celebrating 35 Years of Hello Kitty. Los Angeles. Sanrio, 2009: 37-38 (Exhibition Catalog)

Fairey, Shepard and Gross, Jennifer, ed. Art for Obama. New York. Abrams Image, 2009: 181

Attaboy and Owens, Annie, ed. Hi Fructose Collected Edition. San Francisco. Last Gasp, 2009: 12-21

“The Secret Life of Toys: Dramatic Photos by Brian McCarty.” 3 September 2009 

“Brian McCarty Plays God.” XLR8R TV. 17 March 2009

Yang, Ariel and Yin, Aaron, ed. Design Stars Boulevard. Taiwan. dpi, 2008: 214-215, 228

Yildiz, Levent. “Brian McCarty : Oyuncaklar.” Fotoritim March 2008

PMCA, and LATDA. Beyond Ultraman: Seven Artists Explore the Vinyl Frontier. Pasadena. Baby Tattoo Books, 2007: 46-51 (Exhibition Catalog)

Croci, Roberto. “Crazy Toys Addiction.” L’Uomo Vogue February 2007: 66

Olivares, Rosa. “Brian McCarty.” Exit #25, 2007: 92-96

“Toys: A Photographers Muse.” ABC World News. 31 October 2006

Host, Vivian. “Vis-Ed: Brian McCarty.” XLR8R #102, November 2006: 124-128 + Insert (Feature)

Liao. Adam. “Brian McCarty: Toys as Folks.” dpi #88, August 2006: 68-71

Klanten, Robert, and Hubner, Matthias, ed. Dot Dot Dash: Designer Toys, Action Figures And Character Art. Berlin. Die Gestalten Verlag, 2006: inside cover, 28-29, 44-45, 56-57, 66-67, 84-85, 88, 100-101, 108-109, 130-131, 136-137, 156-157, 174-175, 245, inside back cover (Contributor)

STRANGEco, ed. Toys: New Designs From the Art Toy Revolution. New York. MTV/Universe Publishing, 2006: 94-95, 120-121, 136-137

Jeschke, Pascal. “Brian McCarty.” Encore Magazine #19, April 2006: Cover, 107-125

Seifert, Daniel. “Brian McCarty.” Hi Fructose Magazine Spring 2005: Cover, 6-12 (Cover)

IdN, and JEREMYville, ed. Vinyl Will Kill. Hong Kong. IdN, 2004: 86, 88-89, 157, 160, 163 (Contributor)

Jimenez, Zoe. “Brian McCarty.” While You Were Sleeping Magazine Nov./Dec. 2004: 108-109

Nowicka, Agata. “Brian McCarty.” Aktivist Exklusiv Magazine Sept. 2004: 48-55

Brown, Hugh, and James Austin, ed. Brain in a Book / Brain in a Box. Los Angeles. Rhino Entertainment Company, 2000: 73,104-105, 179 (2002 Grammy Award winner – Best Boxed Packaging)

Isaacson, Phil. “PMA’s ‘Making it Real’ is Sometimes Unreal, Always Provocative.” Maine Sunday Telegram 8 Feb. 1998: 16 

Zimmer, William. “Life With a Twist: Fiction-Based Photography…” The New York Times 30 Mar. 1997: 12 

Goldberg, Vicki. “Photos That Lie – and Tell the Truth.” The New York Times 16 Mar. 1997: 1 

Independent Curators International. Making it Real. New York. ICI, 1997: 56-57 (Exhibition catalog)

Croatian Photographic Society. KON©EPT. Zabreb. Hrvatski Fotosavez, 1996: 137 (Exhibition catalog)