16 Amazing Pieces of Pumpkin Art

Growing up, my dad made pumpkin carving look so easy, sawing curly-cue eyebrows and creepy smiles from a massive orange gourd with a few deft cuts. I’ve always found pumpkin carving more challenging than I anticipated, and besides, working with a knife like that makes me nervous.

Usually, I go for a very simple design. A smiling face with a dimple, or a sly winking pumpkin. Once I tried taking it up a notch by carving a werewolf head silhouetted by a moon. The result, which you can see below, looks more like a bootleg Thundercats symbol. And I worked for a really long time on it, too!

There is an art to pumpkin carving, and, as in every art, some artists are more skillful or bring a different twist to the craft. They see things different, looking at a pumpkin like a block of stone, ripe for carving, for releasing a beautiful face or shape from within.

Other pumpkin masters use a four or five color carving technique. A traditional jack-o-lantern has two colors: the dark of the pumpkin, and the light from the cuts. If you don’t cut all the way through the skin, and instead just carve some of the skin away, you create shades of light and dark and so are able to carve a more complex face or portrait.

Don’t get it? Or just looking for some jack-o-lantern inspiration? Take a look at these twelve examples of pumpkin art and then try some on your own!

  • My Pathetic Attempt… 1 of 17

    Oh, the best laid plans. Click on to see twelve successful works of pumpkin art!

  • Pumpkin Eater 2 of 17
    eating pumpkin

    Ray Villafane doesn't carve pumpkins — he sculpts them. Villafane, who studied at the School for Visual Arts in New York City, worked as a teacher from 1993 to 2006. He began dabbling in sculpting with his students, and was inspired by a friend who worked as a sculptor for Disney to pursue his hobby professionally. He now travels the world creating masterpieces out of sand and pumpkin, and has also created figurines for Marvel and DC Comics.


    Image courtesy Villafane Studios

  • Adam Yauch, aka MCA from The Beastie Boys 3 of 17

    Every year artist Shawn Feeney carves a pumpkin to memorialize a deceased musician. Last year, he choose Adam Yauch, MCA from The Beastie Boys. Yauch — accomplished rapper and bassist, and practicing Buddhist — died tragically young (47 years old) from cancer of the salivary gland.


    Curious to know how Shawn does it? You can watch a video of his sculpting by clicking here, and check out more of his pumpkin and gourd creations at The Invisible Underground.


    Image courtesy Shawn Feeney

  • Darth Vader 4 of 17

    Alex Wer's wife asked if he would carve a pumpkin for her office open house, and viola! "The Pumpkin Geek" was born. Alex now lies at the center of an "Orange Empire," and visits Star Trek and other conventions to showcase his work.


    Image courtesy Alex Wer 

  • Piggy Pumpkin 5 of 17

    While walking through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Ghouls and Gourds festival, I stumbled on a tent full of amazing pumpkin art! Mostly pumpkins that featured animal heads and plant shapes. The tent was a big draw, at least until the Halloween costume parade began.

    Photo from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Ghouls and Gourds festival.

  • Death Star 6 of 17

    This one threw me for a loop before I figured it out the artist cut into the pumpkin's flesh but not through it. That's how he was able to get that band around the middle without the gourd splitting into two pieces. Very clever.


    Death Star via Noel's Pumpkin Carving Site

  • Line Backer 7 of 17

    Another amazing work by Ray Villafane — I love how how the gourd is the football helmet, and the delicate lines that form the face mask.


    Image courtesy Villafane Studios

  • Pumpkin in Peril 8 of 17

    "I've fallen and I can't get up!"

    Image via Minnesota Public Radio

  • "Moooo" 9 of 17

    I love how all the pumpkin skin has been removed on this one, except for the outline of the cow.

    Photo from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Ghouls and Gourds festival.

  • Fractal Pumpkin 10 of 17

    A math student at Bates College painted this lovely fractal tree on a pumpkin. I love this because it's so beautiful and yet so simple. You don't even have to carve a pumpkin to make it a work of art!


    Fractal Tree Pumpkin via Mathematical Association of America on Flickr

  • The Black Pearl 11 of 17

    It must have taken great care to get the rigging of that ship just right. Notice how narrow the masts are?


    Black Pearl via Noel's Pumpkin Carving Site

  • Master Yoda 12 of 17

    "Halloween comes once a year it does." Another masterpiece from Alex Wer.


    Image courtesy Alex Wer 

  • Bear-o-lantern 13 of 17

    The ear on the bear was made from the top part of the pumpkin, and then attached to the side. This cool technique makes it possible to attach ears or horns to your pumpkin heads. 

    Photo from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Ghouls and Gourds festival.

  • Puzzled Pumpkin 14 of 17
    moody pumpkin

    A final one from Ray Villafane I love the arms on this guy! I wonder what he's puzzling over? Probably how long it took to carve a face like that on a pumpkin.


    Image courtesy Villafane Studios

  • Jack-o-lanterns on Parade 15 of 17
    pumpkin pumpkins

    Whoa—trippy. Why carve one face on a pumpkin when you can carve a whole gallery?


    Image via vancouverfilmschool on Flickr

  • The Pumpkin Poet of Bleeker Street 16 of 17

    I love this portrait of Bob Dylan by Alex Wer! The eyes are perfect.


    Image courtesy Alex Wer 

  • "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" 17 of 17

    If portraits of people seem too challenging, perhaps start your pumpkin art career off with an animal?

    Photo from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Ghouls and Gourds Festival.

Article Posted 3 years Ago

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