Zombie Pumpkins: The Interview!

2010 marks eight years of ZombiePumpkins.com bringing its collection of over 200 frightfully artful designs to your holiday decoration.  Patchmaster General Ryan Wickstrand, a freelance art design maestro, applied his craft to the holiday tradition of pumpkin carving and struck some orange gold. As people asked for his designs, he heeded the calling and started up ZombiePumpkins.com

The official story is that the neglected pumpkins, left behind to rot and decay in pumpkin patches, have risen up to seek their revenge. The only way to prevent a pumpkin zombie uprising is to carve! carve! carve! them all.  Thankfully, Ryan adds new designs to the site, giving you plenty to chose from each year. There are multiple levels of membership, for those who just want a few designs to those who utilize Ryan’s work year round.

ZombiePumpkins.com was generous to donate a membership to our 2010 Halloween Contest. For those who win, they’ll have a bunch of new designs to pick from—recently added were Zombie Hello Kitty, Killer Klowns from Outer Space and Dr. Frank-N-Furter from Rocky Horror. The site also houses a forum for all your pumpkin, spooky art and general horror interests.

Ryan was kind enough to answer a few questions as he gears up during this busy 2010 Halloween season

The common sentiment about the holidays seems to be “they come earlier ever year.” When do you usually start gearing up for Halloween?

The more appropriate question might be, when am I NOT planning for Halloween.  The answer to that is probably, just at Christmas.  No wait, that’s not true either, there are skulls on my Christmas tree and my door wreath has eyes and sharp teeth.

People always ask me what I do the rest of the year, and my answer is: plan for next Halloween!  There’s always something that can be done. Generally though, I take a break from Halloween during the winter months, start planning in the spring, and work full force during the summer to prepare new patterns and products.

What do you usually do with what I can only imagine is a metric-ton of pumpkin guts? Have you gotten to a master skill at making pies?

I’m pretty good at eating pumpkin pie, but not making them.  You can’t really make much out of the gooey, stringy guts of a pumpkin.  You can eat the seeds, which I’ve done on occasion.  But 99% of the time, it all goes in the trash.  Luckily I have a dumpster nearby that just so happens to hold a metric-ton of pumpkin guts.

What’s the best advice you can give to someone picking out a pumpkin?

Pretty common sense tips, really.  For an easy carving experience, make sure it has a nice flat, smooth face.  And look it over thoroughly to make sure there are no soft rotting spots, or nicks and scrapes that expose the pumpkin flesh to germs.  I’m always surprised when I see people at pumpkin patches just grab the first pumpkin they see and walk away with it.  Turn it over, feel for bad spots.  Or you’ll be sad when your prize pumpkin is mush before the big night.

Your summer patterns bring up the idea that carving shouldn’t be regulated to just one night in October. How did the idea of carving watermelons come about?

Can’t say I invited it, watermelons have been discovered to be a good carving canvas for a while.  From fruit bowls made of the melon itself, to melon-lanterns, their structure is well suited for it.  The “Summer Spirits” collection of patterns on my site allows me to try designs other than the usual spooky stuff.  And the timing of summer couldn’t be better.  It leads right into the fall Halloween season so it’s a great way to get the buzz going for carving.

You have a wide range of tiki designs available. Are you a big fan of tiki/exotica music?

I’m a big fan of all sorts of music, and often I’ll listen to the matching genre while I’m designing a pattern, to get me in the right frame of mind.  So you can be sure I’ve listened to my share of groovy exotica, tiki tunes and swinging surf while designing and carving my tiki patterns.

With all the characters on your site, do you have someone who you haven’t yet been able to capture in pumpkin form, a ‘great orange whale,’ so to speak?

Many of my patterns have gone through several rough drafts before I was happy enough to release them.  Pinhead from Hellraiser is one example, which took me a few years of attempting before I “nailed” it. Currently, Lily Munster and Darth Vader are characters that are still playing hard to get.

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