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The Man Behind Martin Jones' Mask

by Missy Zielinski /

Whether he is putting the finishing touches on Martin Jones' mask or starting new sketches for one of his other NHL clients, there's a good chance you will find artist Steve Nash working diligently through the night in his Toronto shop as the weather turns to hockey season.

With goalie masks now considered a new category of art, Nash finds that his untraditional office hours are exactly what he needs to channel creativity for his craft.

"I crank my stereo at night," Nash said. "There's nobody around the area at night so I can put the music up loud, zone out and concentrate on the artwork."

Recently, that creative style also helped fuel the EYECANDYAIR owner's imagination for Martin Jones' latest goalie mask. After almost 50 hours of precision with an airbrush, the blank piece of protective gear was transformed into a masterpiece the starting netminder will display prominently for San Jose during the 2017-18 NHL season. 

But how did Nash get from blank canvas to finished product? 

"For each mask, he gives me a concept of how he would like it to look and I sketch a nice draft on paper," Nash said. "With Jones, I know what he likes, so it usually only takes one to two sketches and it's a go."

A white custom-molded Vaughn hockey mask is then transformed from its most basic blank shell to a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that represents both the creativity of the artist and the goaltender alike. 

Reflecting the professional and team-oriented style of the 27-year-old Jones, Nash followed the Sharks current theme, including the new "Screaming Shark" logo which can be seen on his right-ear side.

"His mask is clean, bold and you can see it from way up in the stands," Nash said. "It's sort of his trademark now."
However, look closely and you will see there's another famous Shark featured on his backplate.

"The Jaws details on there are like little 'Easter eggs,'" Nash said. "It's a spinoff of the Jaws original movie poster where the lady is swimming and the shark is coming up from the water, but the Shark is actually the San Jose Sharks logo."

"The other side features the old sailor from the movie, 'Quint,' and the quote, 'you're going to need a bigger boat,'" Nash added. "A little bit of fun tweaked into a professional theme through and through."

Tweet from @SanJoseSharks: Martin Jones's new mask is ���� thanks to the man behind it all, @eyecandyair.

Yet the self-taught artist admits he never envisioned being the Picasso behind these works of head art. 

"It wasn't a plan to paint goalie masks," Nash said. "I always loved goalie mask art as a kid and I would doodle a lot of [NHL artist Greg Harrison's] masks at nine or ten years old."

A goaltender himself, Nash first realized he could merge these common interests when he was playing beer league hockey.

"I didn't think I'd be able to do that even," he said.

Now 20 years and 3,500 helmets later, Nash has created custom pieces for not only Jones, but other NHL netminders, including LA's Jonathan Quick, Carolina's Cam Ward and former Boston Bruin Tim Thomas.

"I got to see Tim Thomas play in the NHL and all the other guys I get to watch, right up to Martin Jones," he said. "It's really cool to see them wear a piece of your own artwork."

The same can't be said, however, about his own mask he wears during his pick-up games.

"I actually have the ugliest mask," he laughed. "I have no time to paint my own mask."

That's in large part because by the end of the mask painting season, Nash will have completed nearly 150 masks for players all over North America and Europe, starting with one that Sharks fans can see night in and night out when Jones mans the San Jose crease this season.

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