seagoal Posted April 26, 2019 Share Posted April 26, 2019 I'm so excited to finally create this post. I've been waiting on this mask for a couple of months now and have been gathering pics. I know some of you were aware that I had a mask in the works and I can now finally reveal it. This'll be a detailed post about the process of getting a new mask, searching for artists, choosing one, and the timing and process involved in working with him. There'll be lots of pics so feel free to skip the words and have a gander if you like. So I had a Bauer NME 7 painted a few years ago in my then color scheme of Boston colors for my team at the time called the Yellow Jackets. I found a local tattoo/airbrush artist to paint that mask for me. Working with him was in no way a professional process. He has average at best airbrush skills and had never painted a goalie mask before. Working with him was fairly frustrating and the end result was pretty meh with lots of mistakes and screw up in the paint job. At the same time though, it was awesome to have a painted mask that matched my gear and my jerseys and it was exciting nonetheless, given my restrained budget and timing needs at the time. The real lesson of that mask was that I wanted a really nice, professional mask paintjob one day from an artist with masks in the NHL. Lesson learned. The paint and mask itself on that Yellow Jackets mask started chipping and the cage got bent pretty bad from a shot one day and all of that together put me in the market for a new mask. I ended up buying an NME 8 in white with the idea that maybe I'd have it painted even though it wasn't my ideal mask. So I began the process of researching and contacting mask artists in the US and Canada with special focus on artists with masks in the NHL. I think I ended up contacting 7 artists all together, mostly in Canada because, well, that's where they all are. Several of them told me they had experienced some issues with clients in the US sending masks to them to be painted and then returned. Customs in both countries apparently does not take this transaction lightly and I heard some stories about lots of additional fees on top of the paint job cost itself. This seemed overly complicated potentially so I tried to narrow my focus on artists in the US. There was one artist in particular that caught my eye: Jason Livery at Head Strong Grafx who has had a good number of masks in the NHL, AHL, Junior A, and NCAA. At the time however, Jason was in the process of moving across the country and his timing was a bit off for new bookings because of this. I was really interested in working with him so I decided to hold off for a while. Not a huge deal. Meanwhile, my attachment to my NME 8 was weakening and I just wasn't happy with it. I decided that I did not want to spend money painting a mask that I didn't love and wanted to upgrade to my ideal mask before booking an artist. I did some reseach on masks and for a variety of reasons ended up purchasing a Sportmask T3. It was originally the cages that sold me on Sportmask. My favorite goalie nowadays is Jonathan Quick and a close favorite of mine is Tuukka Rask. I am strongly drawn to the thick, robust center bar on cages. It just draws my eye and I think it looks badass. Anyway, so I bought my Sportmask and knew for sure that I wanted to have it painted, so I contacted Jason again to inquire about timing. He responded super fast and apologized for his lack of communication during his move. He was, now, in his new home and ready to start working again...albeit once he recovered from a minor surgery. No big deal. So I booked a slot with him less than 2 months out for late February/early March. We discussed some initial details, I paid a deposit, and sent him my mask on February 20 and it was in his hands on the 22nd. One of the things I loved about Head Strong was the pricing transparency on his website. I was going all out on this mask and shooting for the top tier. I had my new color scheme already on my VE8 gear: baby blue, navy blue, and white and had a concept in mind for those colors: Ice Dragons. The inspiration for this dates back to my childhood growing up watching Marty Turco with the Dallas Stars, who had amazing dragon masks. Another big inspiration was Stephane Fiset's Nordiques ice block mask which I loved as a kid. Again, with Quick as my current favorite goalie, it was all coming togetherr conceptually for me and I used all of these ideas to communicate to Jason what I wanted my mask to look like. He was amazing to work with here. He eventually got me in contact with a designer assistant and the process came together quite smoothly, with some tweaks here and there of course. Now the real waiting began, which many of us on here are familar with after ordering custom goalie gear. I will say this as the only negative experience in this whole process...and this is not a knock on Jason for having done anything wrong at all but it just rather comes with the territory of working with an artist in his league: getting bumped down in line when for high profile goalies and sponsors needed work done resulted in delays in my mask getting done. To be fair, he was transparent about this ahead of time and I totally understand why this happens. When an AHL goalie and a college goalie or a USA Hockey goalie or a sponsor needs a favor, my mask gets pushed back. Again, I get it and this is not a knock on him, it just sorta sucks on a personal, selfish, emotional level. It is what it is and this was the only negative thing about the whole process. So there were a few delays of this nature and a week or so of his family coming into town that caused delays, but all in all these are totally understandable and in the grand scheme of things no big deal. He was awesome about updates once he started and sending me teaser videos and pics and of course I would refresh his Instagram every 5 minutes once I knew he was working on my mask. After all of this, I received my mask today April 25th just a few days off of my birthday so that was nice timing afterall. He threw an awesome Head Strong Grafx tshirt in the box for me too as a birthday present, which was great. My experience working with Jason, an NHL level mask artist was amazing and so enjoyable and after having held my mask in my hands all day at work it was absolutely worth the wait and delays and every dollar I spent. I'll lay out the photos in chronological order starting with my inspiration masks, my sketch I sent to him, the design layouts from the designer, the progress photos, and of course my photos today. I'm not sure how many photos I can include in 1 post so I'll space them out just in case. I want to try to not crash this post with too many photos. So the design elements written out were: colors baby/sky blue , navy blue, whites/grays. Ice blocks on the chin an up the crest and on the back plate, Quick-like metal armor around all perimeters, #20 on the chin, a dragon perched atop the Seattle Space Needle on the right, a flying dragon shooting ice on the left, and the words "Stay Present, Stay Calm" and my family's initials PLJ on the back. The lightning and snow was all his idea as was ghosting the word DRAGONS along each cheek at the bottom, which is difficult to see in full in pics but looks so good in person. 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