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«Mask for a Hero». Kharkiv brand Bob Basset creates masks for wounded warriors

Ukrainian designer Serhii Petrov, aka Bob Basset, continues the «Mask for a Hero» project, within which he creates masks for the Ukrainian military. This time he showed a leather patch for an «Azov» regiment soldier, whose call sign is «Krishna», who had lost an eye as a result of military action. DTF Magazine talked to Serhii about his work on the project and the peculiarities of making such items

About the work on the project

Bob Basset told us that he has been creating such masks for himself for several years now: the designer has strabismus which affects one eye. According to the artist, it simplifies the process of communication with people «who do not always understand where he is looking». At the same time, the mask makes the image interesting and serves as a kind of art object that attracts attention.

Bob Basset presented the first eye mask as part of the «Mask for a Hero» project in January 2023. He created it for a lawyer and AFU serviceman Masi Nayyem, who lost his eye in combat.

Serhii said that less than a year ago Masi’s friends approached him with a request to create a special accessory for him. The designer came to see Nayyem in the hospital, where he was undergoing rehabilitation, but was unable to take measurements to create the mask because of his still fresh wounds and stitches. A few months later they met again — Serhii took all the measurements and got to work.

For the military, Bob Basset designed a special accessory with three fasteners that provide a comfortable fit and allow you to adjust it on your face to different sizes. The mask is made of soft leather and is complemented by a natural suede lining, which is often used to create, for example, premium sports equipment or hunting gloves.

«At first I had the idea to make a 3D scan of the face and work with a mockup. But I realized that this process complicates the task and doesn’t help me get closer to the final result. Then I came up with a triple fastener system, which is really comfortable to wear. If we’re talking about leather, it’s probably the best option of all».

He tested the first prototype for a month and continues to use it regularly. According to the designer, Masi specified that the leather fasteners are «much more comfortable than the rubber ties» normally used for basic eye patches.

About creating a second mask

After Bob Basset showed a photo of the mask for Masi Nayyem, he was contacted by the daughter of Serhii, one of the wounded «Azov» fighters who is undergoing rehabilitation. The soldier had joined the ranks of «Azov» a year before the full-scale war began, and was wounded in battles in Mariupol.

It took three months to create the new accessory. Petrov said that work on masks for the military is voluminous not so much in the context of production as in moral terms, because there is a personal story of a military man behind each item.

«Even though I’ve already thought everything through, and I just have to make it happen, it’s hard to turn off the emotions. Every time I get overwhelmed with emotions, because it’s a rather complicated story… Every time these tasks cause me to feel something inside, because it’s a kind of responsibility. Visually, you won’t find a difference between a mask for Masi and a mask for “Krishna“. But, believe me, it is there, I experienced it».

About project financing

In September 2022 Serhii applied for the Vienna Institute for Human Sciences (Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen) grant to support Ukrainian artists. As part of the Documenting Ukraine program, the institute’s team gives cash payments to artists, scholars, journalists, and civic activists to help them continue their work.

According to Bob Basset, he received 5,000 EUR of financial support without a specific and limited list of areas or tasks on which the money can be spent. The designer specified that the grant allows him to cover not only the cost of materials, but also the rent of the working space.

Thanks to financial support, the «Mask for a Hero» project operates on a charitable basis. Serhii said that he has two more requests for accessories from wounded fighters, which he will process in the future.

The history of the Kharkiv leather masks studio Bob Basset goes back to 1988, when the team was looking for leather at dumps and made accessories from it: handcuffs, harnesses, masks, half face masks.

The brand has collaborated with Givenchy, members of Slipknot and Metallica, and created works for Vice, Vogue, Ridley Scott Creative Group and local brands. In 2020 British singer ZAYN presented a video clip shot in Kyiv, the masks for which were also created by Bob Basset.

After the start of russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, Bob Basset moved to Lviv, and in January 2023 began returning to his native Kharkiv. Serhii Petrov said that now he does not have many orders, but the work still continues. For example, recently he was approached by the Swedish metal band Ghost, for which Bob Basset was creating a series of masks in 2022, in order to repeat all the items.




Design partner —
Development — Mixis