The personal stories behind the painted goalie mask.

Goalie mask painting goes back to Gary Cheevers in the 1970s, who had his trainer paint stitches on his fiberglass mask whenever a puck or stick struck him in the face.

Why paint a goalie mask?

Gary Cheevers' goalie mask

Although a goalie is part of a team, it is also very much an individual position. No matter how much the game is a team effort, as a goalie you still feel very much that it’s you against the opposition team. At least that’s how I often feel. You measure yourself against their strongest forward.

So it comes as no surprise that a way to express that individuality is to paint your goalie mask. For some it’s a way to intimidate the opponents, but mostly it tells you something about the goalie.

That personalization is what makes airbrushing these masks fun for the artist, just like a tattoo artist learns something about his clients. It gives the art purpose and meaning, both for the owner of the mask and the artist.

Expressing individuality

For instance, the EMT/firefighter who wanted a mask engulfed in flames with the EMT logo on one side and a firefighter on the other, the goalie with Egyptian heritage who wanted King Tut’s mask, the Red wings fan in Colorado, who wanted a yeti holding every Stanley Cup the Red Wings won and the retired jersey numbers (and there’s a lot). And then there are always the initials of children and loved ones, often on the back plate. An inspirational quotation to remember a friend who passed away.

But even if there isn’t a deeper meaning, the mask is always different and cool, like the Finding Nemo mask I just did. The obvious choice would have been to do the shark Bruce, (Fish are friends, not food) with a big open mouth, but instead, being a goalie he went for the less obvious, but so much more creepy Angler fish, with the big teeth.

Stories of the goalie mask painting.

Every mask tells a story. The latest one will be for a youth hockey player who was born in Vietnam. That one will have the Thai (Hindu) monkey God Hanuman on the front. I’m very excited about that, because I’m very familiar with that kind of image, having Indonesian ancestry from my mother’s side and having seen similar masks and Wayang puppets in Indonesian restaurants in Holland as I grew up.

I love the idea of taking an indigenous mask as inspiration for a goalie mask. I still have to paint my own mask. Now I’m thinking Ethiopian tribal mask in honor of the birth family of my adopted son. African Rasta Mask and African Sculptures

I’ll post pictures as the mask progresses. I’m first finishing a modification on another goalie mask though….

View the goalie masks I’ve painted in here.

Addendum: Below my new goalie mask based on an African tribal mask.

My personal current goalie mask


Book cover illustration

I was asked to illustrate the book cover for fantasy novelist Nathan Wilcox. If you enjoy fantasy novels I highly recommend his books. Below you will find a synopsis. The False Martyr is part two of a series, so be sure to first read part 1:  From Across the Clouded Range.


Continuing the epic tale that started with From Across the Clouded Range, The False Martyr is the story of a world thrown into turmoil by an invasion from across a seemingly impassible range of mountains and the conflict between chaos and order that ensues.
Having shown their power with the destruction of Thoren, the Darthur and their Exile allies force the surrender of the Unified Kingdoms, sending shockwaves across a continent. Caught in the center of this struggle are
• Dasen and Teth, a young couple pursued at every turn because of Dasen’s ability to use the magical powers of the Exiles
• Dasen’s father, Ipid, the wealthy industrialist who has been captured by the invaders and turned into their unwilling puppet
• Imperial Warlord Jaret Rammeriz, whose failed attempt to overthrow the Emperor has left him without emotion or the freewill to avoid the Order’s dictates
• Lius, a young monk learning to use his mystical ability to control the Order
• And Cary, a courier who travels to the forbidden land of the Morgs as part of a delegation seeking their aid in the coming battle.
After narrowly surviving the battle outside of Thoren, Teth wakes alone in the compound of the cultish Weavers. Struggling with the emotional aftermath of the battle, she searches for Dasen but finds him only after she has learned a terrible truth that changes the course of her life. Escaping again from the creatures that are hunting them, Dasen and Teth arrive in a city under the grip of martial law. The most wanted man and woman in the world, they are soon embroiled in a rebellion where nothing is what it seems. Devastated by the Weavers’ revelations, driven from Dasen, Teth hatches a final desperate plan to free Dasen and give herself peace.
Forced to rule the Unified Kingdoms after its surrender, Ipid must balance his desire to secure a future for his country with the need to deliver the invaders’ ruinous terms. But the biggest threat to his country and himself may be his growing and mutating relationship with Eia, who has become his advisor, confidant, and lover.
On the other side of the continent, Lius, a young monk, receives an extraordinary book, learns that he can control the Order, and watches as the head of the Church is brutally murdered. Pursued by creatures from a nightmare, trying to understand his newfound powers, he joins Jaret Rammeriz in a frantic struggle to build a rebellion. But with the Emperor’s armies in constant pursuit, only the most harrowing sacrifices will allow them to continue the fight.
Finally, in the far north, Cary finds himself at the center of a complex plot that threatens to upend the very basis of Morg society. But when he meets Noe, the beautiful, but horribly scarred and abused, Mother of Eselhelt Lodge, he must overcome his own memories and emotions to save Noe, his country, and himself.
And underlying it all are the machinations of the Weavers, who have spent centuries manipulating the very Order of the world to prepare for the Exiles’ return. Caught between the invaders’ brutality, the Exiles’ chaotic powers, and the Weavers’ merciless manipulations, our heroes must fight for their survival, sanity, and each other if they are to uncover the truth about what is happening to their world.