A mask says a lot about its wearer. It can convey anything from elegance to mystery to humor. These days, a mask can say that you care about your community, that you are committed to doing your part to keep yourself and others safe. Despite all that, masks are too often missing a personality. But masks don’t have to be bleak and impersonal.
At 99designs, we know that design can speak where words fail, and design’s visual language has a primal power to connect people. We wanted to show that mask designs can represent the unique personalities of the designers who created them—and establish a connection to anyone who’s wearing them, spreading positivity and optimism in the process.
So we invited our designer community to use their artistic talents to give masks a story and create mask designs as an expression of who they are. We ran a contest in which 76 designers submitted over 316 beautiful mask designs that express their personalities and passions.
The following designs are just a few examples of how even a canvas as small as a face mask can be a platform for telling a story. Whether that story conveys optimism for a better time, a longing for serenity, or unabashed humor, there’s something to love in all of these masks. And the best part: you can get all of these stunning masks at Vistaprint to express yourself while you are helping to make the world a safer place.
Free-like-a-bird mask by Mark Ashraf
Even though masks can be something of an inconvenience, this design conveys the exact opposite idea. Nothing says freedom and the promise of a brighter tomorrow than a soaring bird over a sunny, windswept landscape. And the bird’s position directly over the mouth is no accident either. As designer Mark Ashraf puts it, ”The negative space of the bird creates a smile on anyone that wears it.”
This mask really speaks to the enthusiasm Egypt-based designer Mark Ashraf brings to all his freelance projects. He’s not only a talented illustrator but also a college student studying applied arts and science. He says, “I am delighted that I started freelancing and working with great people. I find it very rewarding to help people with their projects while doing the thing I like the most. I get excited every time I bring someone’s idea to life.” And this mask design with its swirling mist and dazzling sunlight is no exception.
Anime-style CD mask by Kowabana
The physical media of a simpler time are the subject of Kowabana’s mask design. A repeating pattern of CDs sparkles brightly in a shimmering cascade, as though we’re looking right into the rose tinted past.
This mask design is a love letter to all the things that have been keeping me creatively inspired before and especially during COVID19.
As graphic designer Kowabana describes it, “This mask design is a love letter to all the things that have been keeping me creatively inspired before and especially during COVID19; which are anime, music, and pastel colors.” These glittering CDs are about more than entertainment. They are a much needed reminder of how simple pleasures like pop culture can come to mean so much.
And just as this design reaches into the past with its 80s-inspired style, Kowabana values the way their freelancing work can reach across borders: “I love being a freelance designer because I have the freedom to pick the projects and clients, get plenty of exposure (including access to out of state and international clients), expand my skills, evolve with experience, and do all of this remotely at any place I feel comfortable in.”
Cartoon smile mask by Ksenka
This mask design proves that even medical masks necessitated by a pandemic are capable of brightening our day. But putting a smile on people’s faces isn’t the only story behind this mask.
I have a son, who dreams of becoming a designer. The characters he draws fit great as designs for masks, so I asked if he’d like to see them on a real project
Commenting on their inspiration, designer Ksenka says, “I have a son, who dreams of becoming a designer. Over the years he’s developed his own, unique style of drawing. I figured that the characters he draws fit great as designs for masks, so I asked if he’d like to see them on a real project, to which he happily said ‘yes!’. I see that he has the talent and that there is a future for him in design.”
What drives Ksenka’s freelance career is the example it provides for their son: “Usually, children avoid pursuing the same career as their parents, but that’s not true for my boy. He really likes the type of work I do, as well as freelancing as a whole, and he sees his future in that sphere. He’s constantly drawing, and I’m very proud of his work.”
Enchanted forest mask by olrii
In this mask design, tantalizing nature gets the high fantasy treatment. Ukranian graphic designer olrii created an enchanted woodland that wouldn’t look out of place in a fairy tale. A line of trees are positioned against a dark background, bent slightly so that you can almost hear their creaking sway against the wind. The otherworldly blues and purples along with the glow of fireflies all contribute to a dreamlike ambience.
Olrii describes how she turned her signature style into a story: “This illustration represents me as a designer in that it is an illustration made in the style in which I usually work. And fireflies are a symbol of light in the dark, which helps not to give up and move on.” And it is her willingness to venture into the unknown that also drives olrii as a freelancer: “Freelancing for me is first and foremost a great opportunity to do what you like best and always learn something new.”
Steampunk mask by Aesthetic ▿d▿
I am a mechanical engineer and I also love graphic design. Steampunk incorporates both technology and aesthetics
Steampunk is an example of a friendly sci-fi subgenre that romanticizes the industrial technology of a bygone era, realizing a fantastical alternate timeline that might have been. For designer Aesthetic d, the style is about embracing their passions: “I am a mechanical engineer and I also love graphic design. Steampunk incorporates both technology and aesthetics on a design—that’s why I’ve chosen it as my theme.”
Visually, the style is often characterized by pipes and gears, but Aesthetic d takes advantage of a cartoon style with thick outlines and bright colors to heighten the sense of whimsy. The clean lines and quirky theme perfectly sum up Aesthetic d’s love for design and technology, along with a drive to improve as a freelancer, “I really like to compete which pushes me to improve my work and learn from other designers.”
Jungle mask by gunadika
In designer gunadika’s mask design curious animals peer out from behind inky foliage in the midst of intricate jungle imagery. All of this is heightened by the monochromatic line art which makes the viewer feel like they could get lost in nature.
Designer gunadika from Indonesia describes how their thought process focussed on people’s craving to be in nature: “People should use masks and social distancing, but I know many people want to go to the beach or mountain and want to feel at one with nature.” This mask design allows us to at least mentally escape to the jungle. Gunadika also brings a sense of adventure to their entire freelance career. As they put it, “I love freelancing because I can work with many companies. There are always different challenges and experiences that come with the job. One day, I hope to have my own international design studio!”
Palm leaf pattern mask by Pamella P
This mask of lush, nested ferns offers a small window into a painted world of greenery and life. The fine shading lends an air of realism to the flora, and the interwoven pattern makes the whole composition feel hypnotic in the best way. All in all, this mask design by Brazilian graphic designer Pamella P radiates relaxation and serenity.
I always try to add a little bit of myself in my projects… I dedicate myself to manual techniques, and I get a lot of inspiration from the Brazilian flora.
Pamella P is a veteran pattern designer and she describes her design process this way: “I’ve been in the design business for 10 years, but I’ve been working directly with surface design for 5 years. I really like to create prints with manual elements to give a unique character in each creation.” For her, a sense of place is important to bring to every freelance project, “I always try to add a little bit of myself in my projects, even more in surface pattern designs. I dedicate myself to manual techniques, and I get a lot of inspiration from the Brazilian flora.”
Abstract mid-century mask by green in blue
This mask design by veteran graphic designer green in blue features a pattern made out of sleek, abstract shapes. Specifically, it is a modernist style that feels immediately urban and fashionable. Green in blue is a designer from the US with a passion for creating modern yet vintage-inspired designs, and this mask perfectly represents her sense of style: “This design has a little midcentury vibe that is warm and nostalgic, while still being professional with a touch of wabi-sabi.”
I love choosing projects that inspire me, and the ability to do things which are in line with my own values.
A sense of freedom drives the inspiration in green in blue’s approach to freelance work because she loves being her own boss. As she describes it: “I love choosing projects that inspire me, and the ability to do things which are in line with my own values. I like finding the perfect project that will stretch me just enough, and where I can express myself by putting something I made out into the world.”
Hannya gas mask by Finesse”
This mask design is not trying to disguise itself—it’s a mask within a mask within a mask.
The meaning of Hannya is ‘Wisdom.’ And I integrated the Gas mask that is used for protecting the face and lungs against noxious gases.
As designer (and tattoo artist) Finesse” describes it, “My concept is a mixed composition of a Hannya mask and a Gas mask. The meaning of Hannya is ‘Wisdom.’ And I integrated the Gas mask that is used for protecting the face and lungs against noxious gases. I was inspired by an alternative explanation to the Hannya mask that reads: ‘The artist would need a great deal of wisdom in order to create this mask.’”
While it might not be going for realism with its selective shading, the dark color scheme, the toothy Hannya maw, the gas cylinders and noxious vapors also give this design an edge.
Lettering mask by Hanifa design
While this mask replaces the wearer’s mouth with a jumble of letters, there is an undeniable joy to the design’s bouncy typography and warm color scheme. And in the midst of social distancing, kind words are what the world needs.
Lettering is something that brings me joy, and I hope that you will share this joy with me when looking at this mask and using it for good.
Pattern designer and lettering artist Hanifa design from Kazakhstan describes their approach as revolving around the central element of letters. “For many people, letters are simply a means of communication and education. However, for me as a designer, letters are the art. Connecting with color, merging into a composition, they evoke emotions. In this design I wanted to share with you optimism which is now so important than ever for each of us. Lettering is something that brings me joy, and I hope that you will share this joy with me when looking at this mask and using it for good.”
It is the independence of freelancing Hanifa design cherishes in their work: “I love my profession. I love freelancing for freedom, both physical and mental. I work at a convenient time for myself, in a convenient place for myself, choose projects to my liking.”
Goo mask by Freesugar
Who would have guessed covering your face in sludge could be so appealing? In this radioactive mask by graphic designer Freesugar, neon greens and purples intensify cascades of goo. It is a design that is both attention-grabbing and fearless.
For designer Freesugar, this mask design is about adjusting to new circumstances: “I am a designer who really likes monsters and horror so I draw in that style. I like to draw fluid shapes because as a designer I am always able to adapt in every place I am. I must always be able to follow the storyline or brief.”
Get your mask and let it inspire you
Masks encapsulate much more than safety measures—they express who we are and represent our commitment to ourselves and our community. And in a time when it can feel like all the stories we tell are dystopian, our masks can showcase perseverance, solidarity, and even comedy.
It is past time to make mask-wearing more of a cause for celebration than ambivalence. And if any of these mask designs and the stories of the designers behind them spoke to you, don’t forget that you can get all of them at Vistaprint. And whenever you find that your own designs are missing that touch of personality, the 99designs designer community is here for you to create designs you’ll love.