For five years, the Bragins family from Kharkiv have produced steampunk masks from used machinery parts and garbage.
The creative Apocalyptic goggles and notebooks are popular all over the world from America, Canada and Europe to Australia and China. The Kharkivites’ souvenirs are particularly loved by visitors of the annual Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert in northwest Nevada.
Dmytro Bragin started making masks in 2013 after having watched the video on making goods out of recycled materials. He was inspired and made his first installation of a motorcycle in his garage. After that, he made a mask, marketed it in on the Internet and got his first orders.
Dmytro’s wife Oleksandra persuaded him to launch a business as techno masks and souvenirs were already in demand. The married couple shared responsibilities – while Dmytro designed and made the art objects, his wife was both manager and accountant.
The entrepreneurs’ friends and relatives supported the idea. They started bringing them unnecessary parts, broken printers, alarm clocks and toys. “Everyone was just happy to bring some unwanted items and to see how something nice was created,” says Oleksandra Bragina.
That’s how Dmitriy Bragin-Art Creative brand appeared. Currently, there are musicians, illusionists, designers and artists among their customers. The masks are used for theatrical performances and steampunk parties all over the world, including the famous Burning Man festival.
Oleksandra said that after the revolution and war in Ukraine in 2013-2014, it was not easy to get redirected from Russian to Western markets. However, they managed to fascinate Western customers. “Today our most loyal fans are Americans,” says Bragina. She points out that the major tool, which has promoted their unusual goods, were social networks. Most of the deals are made on Etsy, an online marketplace for crafts, handmade and vintage goods. Recently a customer from Poland paid a thousand dollars for a large mask of 1.2 meters height.
The only thing that makes the designers unhappy is that some Chinese companies have copied their masks and now they are selling them as their own brand. “It is not easy to register and protect the copyright as each our items is unique,” says Oleksandra. “We also need to comply with the international law requirements.”
Text: Olena Sokolynska
Photo: Dmitriy Bragin-Art Creative, MC today