Each year I spend a good hour or two attempting to carve some sort of scary face into a pumpkin for Halloween.
Despite all the blood, sweat and tears that goes into my efforts using a reasonably blunt kitchen knife, they never exactly turn out great often ending up in the bin rather than on display.
This Halloween though I am feeling quite inspired to get extra creative thanks to one guy’s pumpkins which have been taking the internet by storm.
Andy Manoloff, 35, from Indiana, USA, has always loved Halloween but was pretty tired of carving the same designs into pumpkins. So in 2009 he decided to put his imagination to good use and try something different.
Using a combination of traditional carving and etching techniques, Andy carved an Iron Man design into a pumpkin and shared images of his creations online.
Andy’s pumpkin not only won local and online contests, but he also went viral and so challenged himself to go bigger and better each Halloween since.
You can check out some of Andy’s incredible pumpkin carving work in the video below:
Since 2009 then Andy has carved an intricate design into a pumpkin for every Halloween, often choosing superheroes for his subject.
Popular comic book characters including Wonder Woman, Batman and most recently Thanos, the villain from this year’s Avengers: Infinity War, have featured on Andy’s pumpkins.
Sharing his Mad Titan on Reddit, the image blew up receiving over 54,00 upvotes at time of writing (October 26).
You can watch Andy carve Thanos, complete with the Infinity Gauntlet, in the video below:
While Andy is a fan of film, he makes miniature and sometimes full-scale replicas of props, characters and scenes from television and cinema for his own business Doggie Doc Designs, he says due to the design of comic book characters they are perfect for pumpkin carving.
Explaining why to UNILAD, he said:
Superheroes from film became a natural subject of choice due to the dramatic costumes, lighting and the fact I am a fan.
More specifically when choosing an image I always try to choose something that has dramatic lighting, in particular something with some sort of intense highlights or actual light (for example Iron Man’s chest light).
One year though Andy did something completely different creating what he called the ‘Sophie the dog-o-lantern’.
It is amazing how accurate the pumpkin portrait of Sophie is:
These works of arts do of course take hours to create with Andy saying the preparation time alone, putting the pattern onto the pumpkin, can take anywhere from four to 10 hours.
The carving itself then takes between eight and 20 hours for each pumpkin.
I think we can all agree though the hard work pays off!
Andy uses ‘a simple X-Acto knife with a few different blades’ for ’95 per cent of a carving’, and ‘small serrated blades’ from a Pumpkin Masters kit as well as a traditional butcher’s knife to open the pumpkin and clear it out.
The detailed and complicated nature of the work though means it isn’t exactly an easy task, despite using simple tools:
In terms of precision you do have to be quite precise. In my opinion it is the small details that really make these carvings stand out.
However mess-ups and mistakes are inevitable and these take far too long to do over, so I have gotten very good at incorporating mistakes into the carving itself and doing my best to have them go unnoticed, as if they were always a part of the design.
I definitely feel like I have improved every year even though I only do a single carving each year. Most years the subject I have chosen requires some sort of new or varies technique from years past so I need to figure out the best way to go about it.
Andy loves the new challenges each pumpkin presents him and the reaction his creations receive online also encourages him to do something even more extravagant.
Asking Andy which one was his favourite to work on was left him with a difficult decision to make as the question ‘was a tough one to answer’.
He concluded though his favourite is always the most recent one he completed meaning this year it is Thanos.
Well, according to the end of Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos is the most powerful being in the universe so he’s obviously the king of all Andy’s pumpkins.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.