AWSI: Mask Maestro Creates Wearable Stories for NHL Goalies…


Timed for the beginning of the National Hockey League (NHL) Stanley Cup Playoffs, The Wall Street Journal did a really nice story about the super-creative, incredibly-skilled artist who has painted masks for half the teams in the league (he has worked for goalies on all but three of this year’s playoff teams). This “mask maestro” is David Gunnarsson, a 39-year-old self-taught artist who lives in Sweden, has done over 3000 advanced custom paint jobs inspired by movies, music, art, and nature.

Cam Talbot Ghosbuster mask.

Cam Talbot Ghosbuster mask.

His creations, showcased on his own website,, his Instagram account, and in popular magazines like Sports Illustrated, are what we’d call “study-worthy”. Seriously. There’s a lot going on in each, unique mask created.

In the Story of DaveArt from his site, there were quite a few notable quotables:

  • With his creativity David came up with ways how to transform his visions into reality. His paintings started to become stories, every mask he painted became its own unique story and the masks were the canvas for David´s creations.
  • The most important elements when creating an artwork on a mask are fantasy and creativity, to be able to think outside the box.

A true mask artwork is a design that flows, is balanced, and fits with the goalies´ equipment and team colors while not forgetting the history and soul of the team or the goalkeeper.

He’s got skillz!

Between the Journal article and sources on the Web, we gleaned some interesting tidbits:

OYO mask in process.

OYO mask in process.

> The Process: His masks start with a conversation, then a sketch, then a full-color drawing for goalies to review. He paints mostly with an airbrush—a paint gun connected to an air compressor—but sometimes relies more on a sketch pen

> The Ideas: He said, “During my 20 years I have never, never had problems with my creativity or ideas. It just comes like water.”

Joey says that’s a sign of a man living his bliss.

> The Skillz: A true mask artist must be able to paint extremely detailed on small and rounded areas, creating depth and 3-D effects to make the design come to alive on the mask.

Putting those Masks into Context:

Let’s step back and look at what an NHL goalie has to do..

  • Deflect pucks flying at them from at 85 miles per hour from all kinds of angles
  • Put up with bumping as players from both sides crowd into his “crease” (that space in front of the goal.
  • The ever so pleasant “snow showers” that occur when a player hits the brakes just a little too hard.
  • And every so often, a stick in the face (through a slot in the mask).
Stick in the face... ouch!

Stick in the face… ouch!

We liked this quotable from

As goaltending great Bernie Parent once said, “You don’t have to be crazy to play goal, but it helps.”

And what a goalie needs to have…

  • superb vision
  • awesome reflexes
  • stupendous agility
  • incredible skating ability

Let’s add a 5th item: a creative, “piece-of-flair”, unique, storytelling mask

We suggest if you happen to catch hockey on TV or perhaps on one of Annie’s favorite websites (see below), you take some time to check out DAVEART Gunnarsson’s work and see how his extreme creativity and passion manifests itself in these functional pieces of art.


-The Gang

Optimus Reim” Transformers – James Reimer (Sharks)

Reimer debuted his new mask from Dave Gunnarsson of DaveArt, a Shark-themed take on the “Optimus Reim” Transformers theme that fans loved so much during his time in Toronto.

“Optimus Reim is transformed into… The Shark Shock!?” Gunnarsson wrote on his Facebook page. “James Reimer and I have been working together for many years and I have created all his NHL masks and also all his masks based on his nickname Optimus Reims. With this new San Jose Sharks mask on his head James Reimer, a.k.a The Optimus Reim, will be transformed into something else… The Shark Shock. Just as usual it is made of metal and pimped with huge exhaust pipes!”

@sanjosesharks #OptimusReim #DaveArt #NHL #DaveArtTheCradleOfCreativity @nhl #DaveArtAirbrush

A photo posted by David Gunnarsson (@davidofdaveart) on

Masks for Sale – Check out the Fierce Yoda!

FIerce Yoda.

Fierce Yoda.

Roughly $200.



inGoal Magazine Interview – Some outtakes:

>Who are some of the more interesting goaltenders that you have had a chance to work with?

Henrik Lundqvist. I have been painting for him since he was a teenager and it has been very fun painting for him throughout his career. He always knows what he wants on his mask – the graphics and stuff and very clear and crisp designs.

Sometimes the goalie has very particular design ideas and I make sketches from that so it’s very different in different cases. Since I began as a sketch artist, I have no problem sketching up a design from the start – I never have to copy stuff, I always use my own imagination.

>And what inspires that imagination?

I guess it’s from movies, music, art, nature…imagination has always been my strength.

Is it always with you? Do you carry a notebook with you for those moments of inspiration.

It is always with me. I could wake up in the middle of the night and start to paint in two minutes.

> What makes a DaveArt design unique? What sets you apart from other artists?

I don’t know. I don’t look so much at what other painters do. I just do what I do and I guess my imagination is my strong point. I have also always tried to be as versatile as possible. I must be able to deliver exact what the goalie wants, no matter he or she wants. I must be able to create everything, photorealistic super advanced free hand artwork, on extremely small areas, or funny cartoons, or horror, or old school graphics, or true fire, or classic flames, or logos, so they not look like stickers. Lots of 3D effects… And it must flow, and be a design….And you must be able to paint all this at a round surface… and you must be quick. I love to work under pressure.

David Gunnarsson: Hockey’s Greatest Artist


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