Halloween Pumpkin Carving
A brainwavez.org Cultural Experience

United States of Americaby Jase Luttrell
Posted: 19 November 2009brainwavez.org Comments View Comments

For Americans, pumpkin carving is an integral part of celebrating and enjoying Halloween, and has become a form of fine art. brainwavez.org presents some interesting jack-o'-lantern and carved pumpkins from a massive collection available on Flickr. We hope these will serve as a source of inspiration (for the artistically minded) or consternation (for those who are artistically inept (or undead)).

It's no surprise that there are a lot of pumpkin photos on Flickr but I was blown away to find such a large number. All of the photos we feature here are either tagged with "pumpkincarving" and/or are from the jack-o-lantern group's pool. At the time of writing the jack-o-lantern group comprised over 2400 photos, while over 24 000 photos were tagged with "pumpkincarving".

Yes, we went through every one of these photos, and selected some of the coolest, most innovative, and downright spooky. We've given credit to all of the artists and have linked all the images to their photo pages. We highly recommend that you look click through to see what else the photographers have done, as well as what other pumpkin-carving and Halloween images can be found on Flickr. As Halloween 2009 has just passed photographers have recently been uploading their newest creations and each year they get better. Here are some of our favourites from the past five years of uploads, which we've grouped into categories.

These are pumpkins that are carved in traditional, iconic designs but we've done our best to select those photos that display the best technique, camera angles, or creativity. Some of these designs may be "easy" to do, but they do show some skill and ingenuity in their execution.

Photograph by Peter Barvoets, on Flickr
Some people may argue that carving the teeth of a jack-o'-lantern could be the most difficult, as they are small and intricate in detail, and may be frail because of the structural integrity of the pumpkin. Peter Barvoets provided this photo to the jack-o-lantern group, and it's an interesting display of three styles of teeth. We are most impressed by the lightning-bolt teeth, but the Tetris-style teeth are also quite creative.

Photograph by Erica Anderson, on Flickr
Erica Anderson expands the possibilities with a photograph of this creepy carving above.

Photograph by b-nik, on Flickr
b-nik's "Country bumpkin pumpkin" is a clever way of using teeth and an unusual pumpkin shape.

Photograph by Philip Hay, on Flickr

Philip Hay has a well-crafted pumpkin depicting variegated star eyes and sculpted teeth, which shows impressive skill.

Photograph by Mark Menzies, on Flickr
The most frightening pumpkin is brought to us by Mark Menzies, which is terrifyingly evil looking and incredibly impressive. It's hard not to imagine that blemish as a splattering of blood dripping from a satanic mouth. Purely brilliant.

Photograph by Eric Frommer, on Flickr
A close runner-up for the most terrifying pumpkin is Eric Frommer's "Pumpkins, They Eat Their Own!", but we suppose this is really only terrifying if you are, indeed, a pumpkin. Otherwise it's just awesome.

Photograph by Mark Menzies, on Flickr
Mark Menzies also has this eerie little gem, which is not only exceptionally carved and sculpted, but the photograph is impressive.

Photograph by George P Macklin, on Flickr
Though it's not technically a pumpkin, George P Macklin's butternut squash skull is an interesting and well-done example of expanded creativity, with squash acting as eyeballs. Empty eyeholes would probably be more effective and terrifying.

Photograph by Joe Kirschling, on Flickr
Joe Kirschling has my favourite use of a jack-o'-lantern that is still a classic carving, though using a non-traditional squash. The lines on this squash give the face a surprising amount of character, both whimsical and slightly schizophrenic.

Photograph by Jim Crossley, on Flickr
The pumpkins in Jim Crossley's photograph may not display exceptional skill in carving and sculpting but the idea of stacking the heads on top of each other is a fun way to present the jack-o'-lantern.

Photograph by chrisphoto, on Flickr
The second-last pumpkin in the Classic category is chrisphoto's spider holding a little pumpkin, which is fun, intriguing, and displays quality carving skills.

Photograph by adwriter, on Flickr
adwriter's photograph doesn't show a great amount of carving skill but I really like the depth of focus in the photograph.

Our second category focuses on pumpkins that display carvings or sculpting of media- or arts-related creations. Some of these are inspired by movies, while others are from video games or cartoons. Regardless of origination, they are all pieces of art in our book.

Photograph by Brandi Korte, on Flickr
A number of photographs of media-related pumpkins come can be found in Brandi Korte's stream. She seems to have a very skilled family as all the pumpkins were carved by members of her family (they are credited individually on the photo pages). First up is Optimus Prime and Megatron from Transformers.

Photograph by Brandi Korte, on Flickr
Next we have a selection of animated and cartoon characters ranging from sources that include Looney Tunes, Disney, and Winnie the Pooh, all of which show skill and artistic ability, though I wonder how many of these pumpkins were created with a carving template.

Photograph by Brandi Korte, on Flickr
There's also a selection of Harry Potter-themed pumpkins.

Photograph by Brandi Korte, on Flickr
Another great example in Brandi Korte's stream is Hellraiser's Pinhead.

Photograph by Brandi Korte, on Flickr
There's also an interpretation from Children Of The Corn.

Photograph by Brandi Korte, on Flickr
Hitchcock's The Birds is very skillfully done and it was a toss up as to whether we should showcase it here or in our Skill category.

Photograph by Rakka, on Flickr
An examples that did not come from Brandi Korte's photostream is Rakka's Mario, which is so exceptionally well crafted that it has been done as pixel art.

Photograph by Diluted, on Flickr
Diluted's homage to The Nightmare Before Christmas is exceptional (and also looks very fragile).

Photograph by Justin McAllister, on Flickr
Justin McAllister's depiction of Kenny from South Park is also fun, but we really enjoy the crazy bat-like creature in the bottom right-hand corner as well.

Finally, we come to the skill category of our pumpkin carving extravaganza, which features such artistic representations it boggled our minds trying to figure out how these were created. Some of them display exceptional skill in using the negative space of the image, while others are so intricate in detail we are impressed by their execution (forgive the Halloween-related pun).

Photograph by Brandi Korte, on Flickr
Again, we have some impressive examples from Brandi Korte, one of which features a hand reaching out of a grave to carve a pumpkin (because zombies have nothing better to do?).

Photograph by Brandi Korte, on Flickr
There's also this exquisite Grim Reaper swooping under a moonlit sky in a graveyard.

Photograph by , on Flickr
fieldtrip is truly a sculpting artist, creating a great rendition of activist Che Guevara's face in realistic detail. The candle inside is also placed in a way that provides the correct shading and illumination, making this piece absolutely brilliant.

Photograph by _overanalyzer, on Flickr
Flickr member _overanalyzer provides this example, which is most certainly a template, but it is still well done.

Photograph by Mark Menzies, on Flickr
Mark Menzies again provides us with an intriguing, feline-like face, which was made by his father, and it is presented in a fun (though highly flammable) way. It's just a shame that the toothpicks holding the pumpkin together are visible. However, it would be difficult to create a pumpkin with this design that was structurally sound, so a little bit of assistance is necessary.

Photograph by Scott Ashkenaz, on Flickr
As always, we've saved the best (two) for last. Scott Ashkenaz's "Art-o-lantern" defies all logic and rules of physics and engineering because with all of those cuts one would expect the pumpkin to just deflate into a mess, which makes it all the more terrifying. This pumpkin was created as part of a Stanford art class taught by Matt Kahn and the story of this can be found here.

Photograph by Dawn Danby, on Flickr
Finally, Dawn Danby has the most bizarre, artistic, beautiful, and exceptional creation that is inexplicably mesmerising. It makes us ask "what the hell happened to this pumpkin?!" It looks like it was mauled by a wild animal, hit with radioactive goo, and then put on someone's front porch. It truly is remarkable.

2009 Selection
This final section includes brainwavez.org's selections for some of the most interesting pumpkins from 2009, all of which belong to the jack-o-lantern group.

Photograph by Adam Fagen, on Flickr
The first is from Flickr member Adam Fagen, who submitted a photograph of a pumpkin with menacing teeth.

Photograph by Adam Fagen, on Flickr
He also provided a panoply of pumpkins, which had been arranged on several steps as though they were combat infantry.

Photograph by chrisdonia, on Flickr
Flickr member chrisdonia had some fun with the pumpkin carving process, and effectively used the gooey innards of the butternut squash to create "hair", while also using carved fragments, a radish, and chunks to create horns.

Photograph by chrisdonia, on Flickr
chrisdonia stretches the imagination a bit more by carving a pineapple and a swede(/turnip/rutabaga). The grimace on the pineapple definitely freaks us out.

Photograph by Nancy L, on Flickr
An example of using a lesser-known variety of pumpkin is provided by Nancy L., who effectively captures the haunting effect of ghosts by carving white pumpkins. This is creative, spooky, and downright brilliant. The gravestone is also pretty awesome.

Photograph by b-nik, on Flickr
b-nik photographed these pumpkins, which seemingly did not survive in the wild woods because their camouflage attempts did not hold up.

Photograph by Brandi Korte, on Flickr
Once again, the crème de la crème is provided by Brandi Korte who has a monopoly on the coolest, most innovative, and downright spectacular pumpkins in this article. We urge everyone not just to view her Flickr photostream, but to start thinking about Halloween 2010 to create something that rivals her skill and ability at carving a pumpkin. Sure, this carousel has wooden skewers hold the top up, but it goes without saying that this is incredible.

This article, of course, is just a tiny selection. We encourage you to flip through the (thousands) of photos on Flickr for ideas and inspiration for next year. We would like to give an honourable mention to Ryan Williams and his "Jack-o-lanterns" set, as well as Flickr member Pumpken's photostream and the Pumpkin Carving Pics group, all of which showcase an incredible selection of photos of pumpkin carving and sculpting.

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