Ten questions with Steve Nash

Here's the first-ever installment of an exclusive Hound Central feature: Ten questions with . . . .

In today's opener, we learn not just a little, but a lot about Steve Nash, 38, a very talented artist specializing in goalie mask airbrushing for EYECANDYAIR in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada. Trust me, this guy does some amazing work.

A special thanks goes out to Stephanie Pasquariello, who does customer relations for EYECANDYAIR. She was very instrumental in making this happen.

So, here it goes:

Puckhound: Who's your favorite team?
Steve Nash: Actually, I don't really have a favourite team. I've always rooted for the underdog, but any Original Six teams do always pique my interest.

PH: Who are your favorite players?
SN: All time faves are Steve Y (forward), Borje Salming (defense) and Patrick Roy (goalie)

PH: What's the best part of hockey?
SN: Definitely, the speed of the game

PH: Your favorite memory of hockey?
SN: My fiancée, Steph, and I won a trip to watch Game 5 -- Toronto vs. Carolina in the 2002 Conference Finals. It was a 16-hour bus ride with very loud hyped-up Leafs fans! It was CuJo's last season in Toronto (Steph is a huge fan!) and we won that game 1-0 with a Darcy Tucker goal. We even sat 12th row, centre ice. It made it well worth the trek.

PH: Do you, or did you ever, play hockey?
SN: I haven't for over a year and a half due to a fairly serious injury and then I really got into my art hardcore, so I've pretty much retired! I started playing goalie when I was 5 or 6 on the frozen lakes of Northern Ontario, coached by my dad. I played right from squirt to AAA, then graduated to men's league and the odd rent-a-goalie stint.

PH: What got you started in your job?
SN: I have always had an interest in art my whole life. I started drawing at a very young age -- mostly pencil or charcoal (examples
here and here) but I never imagined that I would end up making a living with my art.

I was in the hunt to purchase a new goalie mask and wanted something other than a plain black or white one, but the factory paint jobs were just not my style. So I decided to get a used mask and try painting my own design. It was a green beastly monster and actually turned out not too bad for being completely painted by hand. I got a lot of attention with that mask and other goalies started approaching me, so I decided to try my hand at airbrushing.

My very first design was a Toronto Felix Potvin (like many other artists Im sure!). Like any of the art I had done in the past, I had no intention of even charging the guy for it, but he insisted on paying for it.

I also had a lot of support from a good friend of mine, Rod Laforme, who opened the right doors for me to get a few retail connections, such as the store he was working at then,
Goalie Heaven, and the store he currently manages, The Goalie Crease. It has snowballed from there over the years and most of my business now comes from word of mouth.

PH: How long is the turnaround in making a mask?
SN: Sometimes the concept takes a while; that all depends on the customer. Some people have no idea what they want on their mask -- they just know they want my art, sometimes these particular projects take months to finalize.

If a goalie has a good idea of what they want or just allows me the freedom to run with my creativity, then from prep to clearcoat even the most intricate and detailed projects only take about 3-4 days at most.

PH: Who has your favorite NHL mask?
SN: My all-time favourite old school mask was worn by
Mike Palmateer. It was his Toronto mask . . . the design is a classic! Modern day, I have to be completely biased and say Tim Thomas of Boston Bruins. He is wearing a Sportmask Mage (not a traditional goalie mask) and the new "Beware of Bear" mask I just painted for him for the 06/07 season is killer!

PH: What's the favorite mask you've painted?
SN: This is a hard one, because there are a few masks I really love. But I have to say overall it would be the
Atomic Metallica Mask. I've always been a huge fan of Metallica and the customer entrusted me with complete and total freedom of this design. It is going to be hard to top this mask off in my books.

A close second would be my
Jimi Hendrix Tribute Purple Haze. As you can see I really enjoy rendering portrait and tribute themed goalie masks.

PH: Who's taking home Lord Stanley's Cup this season?
SN: That is a very tough question! With the new NHL, it really is a crap shoot. There were some excellent teams last season -- Carolina, Buffalo, Nashville. Although I'm not a fan of the team, I'd have to say Buffalo impressed me the most with their speed and agility, awesome coach with Lindy Ruff and a great rookie goalie with Ryan Miller. So, Buffalo it is.

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