Mustukovs epic Sheffield Steelers mask features wife and cats
A goaltender’s mask is unlike any other piece of equipment in sports — part self-expression, part motivational tool, and part essential protection.
Ervins Mustukovs of the Sheffield Steelers (of the UK’s Elite Ice Hockey League) wanted to bring his wife, Karina and their two cats, Kimi and Kelly, onto the ice with him. So he partnered with artist Chris Taylor of CT Airbrushing to come up with one of the most cat-tastic masks we’ve ever seen:
While a lot of goalies save their personal tributes for the backplate, Mustukovs wanted to feature Karina, his wife of three years, and their two cats prominently on his new mask.
“My wife is my biggest fan and always cheers for me every game,” Mustukovs told InGoal Magazine. “So she helps me during the game with cats. So we are four in the net. Cats are part of my family.”
For Mustukovs, strong personal expressions are part of being a goalie.
“I just wanted to look different then other goalies,” said Mustukovs, whose equipment is predominantly orange. “For example, 80 percent of goalies have white pads, gloves, etc, but I never like it. Cats means for me more then just cartoons on mask. Last year I had an actor on my mask, Peter Falk from “Columbo,” because he was my childhood hero. So everything what I put on my mask means something for me.”
Both Mustokovses love the mask, although it took a little time for Karina to get used to seeing her face on the screen during games. “We think it is perfect, they look 100% like in pictures,” Mustukovs said. “Thanks to www.ctairbrushing.co.uk and www.puckstop.com for their great job. We didn’t know how it will turn out. So I just gave to painter couple my ideas, and he made his choice.”
In addition to the team logo on the opposite side of the mask, there are other personal touches, including Mustokovs’ nickname “Moose,” which he got while playing in the ECHL with the Elmira Jackals and the Toledo Storm, written across the top and an image of an actual moose on the backplate:
So far no one’s chirped him about having his cats or his wife on his mask.
“No, in our team everyone liked my mask,” Mustokovs said. “No problem with that. And I don’t think so there will be any problem with opponents as well.”
This isn’t the first mask that CT Airbrushing has done for the Latvian-born goalie or the Steelers. He also painted the Columbo-themed mask (below) that Mustokovs mentioned above, as well as a Simpsons themed job for his Steelers teammate Brad Day.
Taylor walked InGoal through his process painting for the Steelers goalies.
“The goalies for the Sheffield Steelers told [sponsor] Puckstop.com what they wanted on the mask. I then take what they have said and produce a digital design proof which I email over for feedback, design amends, or approval to proceed,” he said. “In this case the brief from Ervins was very clear and concise. Keep it simple and contemporary, use the orange as an accent colour and he would like the pics of the cats and his wife on there somewhere as well as the team logo. On the backplate there was only to be a pic of a moose and the sponsors logo.”
And what is the key to creating good portraits?
“I think the devil is in the detail for portraits whether its animals or people,” Taylor said. “It’s all about observation and noticing the details, things like fur direction and density, markings, shadows, highlights and of course the eyes. The details matter despite the fact that few people will be able to see them on the ice. The goalie sees it that close up and I try to not give them an airbrushed mask but instead a piece of artwork, something that could be hung on a wall and admired.”
It’s all part of the fun for Taylor.
“I think that some of the choices of what folks want on the masks are a bit ‘out there’ but hey that’s great, that’s what keeps the variety going and the uniqueness of the goalie shining through,” he said. “I revel in the challenge to produce something different to the norm and strive to be the best i can, to try and bring a different style/flair to the hockey mask world. I keep saying that I’m only as good as my last project, which keeps me on my toes.”
You can find more of CT Airbrushing’s work at www.ctairbrushing.co.uk or on Facebook, Instagram (ctairbrushing), or Twitter (@ctairbrushing.) In the meantime, enjoy more close ups of Mustokovs, his wife and their two cats, Kimi and Kelly: