Goalie Mask Artist Dave Gunnarsson of DAVEART Interview
Recently I had the opportunity to speak with Dave Gunnarsson from his studio in Sweden. Dave is one of the most well-known mask artists in the business with one of the longest list of clients in addition to creating the stock designs you can buy from iTech off the shelf. He also had developed the business side of his art extensively, from a customer service centre to serve his North American clients to other artists who assist in his personally designed studio who take care of all the prep work leaving him more time to focus on his high end artwork.
Dave has also offered to help us with some other interesting projects in the future, such as putting together a virtual tour of his studio and the creation of a mask. I hope that this interview is the beginning of a long relationship that will benefit all of our readers.
Thank you on behalf of inGoal Magazine to Dave for taking the time to share some of his time with us!
You have one of the largest mask art businesses around, can you tell us a bit about it?
I’ve been painting all my life, and that has been my only interest since I was born. I started my paint company when I as sixteen years old. I started to paint for clients after school in the evening and on weekends. The word spread and when I graduated when I was 20 I had so many clients and customers that I could start work as a professional at once and that is what I have been doing ever since.
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.
Other goalies for example, The Moose, Hedberg. It’s always fun to create the new Moose masks and they always get a lot of attention.
Then it’s Marty Turco with his Gargoyle designs, Dan Ellis with his Predators designs and Pekke Rinne, Rick DiPietro, Jose Theodore, Kari Lehtonen, Peter Budaj, Carey Price with his country-design, Johan “Moose” Hedberg, Kevin Weekes, Martin Gerber and many more.
Who brought your art to North America for NHL goalies to see?
It was Hedberg first, eight years ago. He came to America with a mask I made for him and he got a lot of press with his Moose mask which got a lot of attention to me and my business and from there it has grown very fast and I have gotten new pro clients every year.
How do you work with a goalie? Do some leave it al to you while others like to work more closely?
It is quite different depending on the goalie. Some goalies give me some short ideas and I work with that and I make a design idea for them and from there I start. 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.
Which pros would be more excited about the process of creating a new design than others?
I must say that all are very excited. When I paint a mask for them they are kind of like kids at Christmas – and I am also! I am always excited when they come to me and want something new.
Do you have any of the designs that are favorites?
None in particular. I always try to look in the future and always improve and make the next design the best, so I never look back. But it’s always fun when a design I do gets a lot of attention as for example Lundqvist’s or DiPietro’s or the Moose designs or Theodore or Turco…
Is all of your work with an airbrush, or are there new technologies entering the business?
I use 99.9% air brush. And airbrush is the ultimate technique. It is possible to create whatever you can imagine. I´m also a teacher at Iwata AirbrushAcademy, Iwata is my Japanese airbrush supplier. Check out my airbrush school at www.daveart.com/schoolofairbrush or our airbrush webshop www.daveartairbrushshop.com
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.
So that has always been my goal – to be as versatile as possible and always try to improve.
How much of your business is in North America and how much of it is in Europe?
North America has increased very much in the last 10 years. We’re dealing with North America every week. I think it’s about 50/50 right now between North America and Europe.
If someone in North America wants to work with you, how does that work?
They contact the North American customer service and talk about the design. The goalie can send the mask to the North American office and from there I take over with the creative process. Our North American office takes care of everything, they handle shipping for example we ship worldwide in 48 hours so it’s extremely fast. I´m always the local painter.
Do you do all the artwork yourself, or do you have other artists working with you?
I do all of the pro artwork myself and after that I have a top pro painting crew that take care of some of the kids’ designs that I myself do not have time for. My painting crew always work from my sketches and are under my wing so it’s always a DaveArt design.
I understand you worked on some of the iTech stock designs?
Yes, I am doing all their new designs – that is extremely fun and creative. I work very close with iTech, or as it is now, Bauer. I work directly with their goalie guys. We talk about new designs and when we come up with an idea I take it and from there we evolve it into a retail mask.
So if someone wants to have you paint their mask, how far in advance do they have to order?
Thanks to my team I work very fast. The pros have extremely fast delivery, from that I get the mask we prime it, I paint it with a very advanced design, and we clearcoat it, within only a couple of days if they wish.
Also, since I work with this as a full time pro, I´m always in my studio, ready to jump on hurry projects at once, every day, every week, all year long. So I´m always able to take care of very hurry orders.
For other clients it’s different depending on the time of year, but it’s around two months. I work very efficiently, that’s why I can have fast delivery times and I also have staff here in my studio who take care of everything round my paint. So, the only thing I do is paint nowadays. Other tasks are taken care of – prime work, clear coat, putting a mask together and shipping and everything. That’s why I can do at least one advanced custom paint job every day.
So do you have any idea how many masks you have painted in your career?
Yes, I soon will have done over 3000 advanced custom paint jobs.
Is there anything else in conclusion that you’d like to share with our readers about your business and your art?
It’s extremely enjoyable to be creative and work with goalies all over the world. I am happy to have my own studio, completely designed by myself. I am also very thankful to my team so that I can work so effectively.
We also have airbrush schools and airbrush workshops.
Are the schools and workshops exclusively in Europe or do you also offer them in North America?
As it is now they are only here in Europe but we are discussing airbrush courses in North America because of the interest people are showing.
Well Dave, thank you so much for taking the time today with us. I understand that we’ll be able to do something together for the inGoal Magazine readers to give them a virtual tour of your studio. I am really looking forward to it and I’m sure that they do as well!
That’s right. Thank you for your interest.
For more information please contact DAVEART directly:
DAVEART AB Europe Studio
570 03 Vrigstad
DAVEART AB North America
Karl Van Blankenburg
61830 Lantern Cove
Washington, MI 48094