The goaltender combines passions for hockey and art in the field of helmet design

On the desk in Kyle Konin’s workspace is a Tampa Bay Lightning hockey helmet with a picture of Yoda from Star Wars on it. The helmet is a perfect representation of the passions of Konin and his company.

“I never thought I could combine two things that I love the most,” he said.

Konin is a lifetime hockey goaltender. Last year, he fulfilled a dream by becoming the emergency goaltender at Amalie Arena as the Lightning hosted the St. Louis Blues.

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Konin is also a lifelong artist.

“I’ve always wanted my mask painted, and every goaltender in the NHL painted theirs, so one day I started painting mine, then friends wanted them, then friends wanted them. friends, and it became a the whole company,” he explained.

This company is NUJAX Airbrush. He has lost track of the total number of creations he created, but estimates the number to be around 500 to 1,000. The helmet is first disassembled, sanded, primed and then hand painted, in using a mixture of hand paint and airbrush. He finishes by applying an expensive clear coat to protect the helmets.

“My goal when designing them is that we really want them to be readable from a distance, so if someone’s watching you play, you want them to be able to tell what the design is,” Konin said. “Then you also want to have some cool stuff up close, where you walk up to the helmet, and you see some really cool hidden details.”

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Two of Konin’s current projects are excellent examples of mixing hockey and art. He just finished a helmet that features Lego characters checking out Michigan’s breweries. It packs a helmet that depicts the head of the dinosaur robot Grimlock, featured in the Transformers movie franchise.

It makes helmets for goaltenders on youth teams, club teams, NCAA teams, and professional teams. He was thrilled to see his helmets on national television when the University of Massachusetts Amherst won the NCAA championship last season.

“It was just a really cool feeling to see that my work is, you know, nationwide,” Konin said.

As Konin enters summer, his workspace fills with more blank headphones. He said the summer is the busiest part of the year, but he’s happy about it.

“It helps my process when there are several at once,” he explained.

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