Where the typical pumpkin carver (i.e. you and I) sees a Jack O' Lantern when we look at an orange gourd, Marc Evan and Chris Soria (aka Maniac Pumpkin Carvers) see Maurice Sendak's Wild Things, Babe Ruth, or Boba Fett from "Star Wars." Maniac Pumpkin Carvers is a full creative studio dedicated to innovative pumpkin carving. Each fall season Evan and Soria take orders for custom pumpkins to be used in window displays, centerpieces, events, weddings, and parties. In between carvings (it's their busy time) we chatted up the duo to find out what it is they see in pumpkins.
A: Throughout the month of October, pumpkin carving is our day, night, and wee morning hours job. We are full-time Maniacs. The Maniacs enjoy taking a month long break from our other duties. The other 11 months, The Maniac Pumpkin Carvers express their creativity, while working on large public murals and freelance illustration, design, and photography assignments.
Q: How many carvings do you average per Halloween?
A: Each Halloween we carve more pumpkins than the previous year. In 2009, we carved over a hundred pumpkins. We are hoping to double or triple that number in 2010.
Q: Every artist has their muse. Where does your inspiration come from?
A: Our inspiration comes from all around us. We are inspired by the vibrant and pulsating city that we live in (New York City), as well as the horror and sci-fi movies of our youth. We are also avid museum goers and like vampires. We feed off the creative energies of past artists and cultures from around the globe.
Q: What has been the toughest carving that you've done to date? How long did it take to do?
A: The toughest job the Maniacs have tackled was for the 2009 World Series at Yankee Stadium. The NY Yankees commissioned 50 pumpkins to be placed in each of their VIP skyboxes around the stadium. We had 36 hours to complete the assignment. The Maniacs were never the same afterwards.
A: We are rarely surprised, but one memorable carving was a portrait commissioned by a guy's best friend. It was a rather embarrassing photo that was being used as a practical joke on his buddy. We had a good time with that one.
Q: What is the biggest mistake amateur carvers (like myself!) make, and how can we remedy it?
A: The biggest mistake you can make is underestimating how sharp carving tools can be. Always keep your fingers and palms out of the line of fire of sharp tools. Emergency room visits take the fun out of Halloween -- and this is one holiday that is supposed to be all about having fun. Also, go into it with a plan and take your time. A little prep time will pay off in the end.
Q: Tealight candle, flashlight, or glow stick -- what's the best way to light my carving?
A: We prefer electric lighting for all the Maniac Pumpkins. We wire up each pumpkin so that it becomes a true lamp that plugs into an outlet. A flashlight or small battery-powered lantern will work great in a pinch. Candles aren't safe for long hours of display and really, just aren't bright enough for that attention grabbing look. Pumpkin carving should be an illuminating experience.
Feeling inspired? Don't miss ShelterPop's creepy Jack O' Lantern coverage!