Maniac became a full-on seasonal business in the years that followed, with a growing team to keep up with demand; the artists now ship pumpkins across the country and travel to events for carving demonstrations (this month, for instance, they have an artist giving live demos and building an installation at the Tennessee amusement park Dollywood).
While Maniac operates year-round, pumpkin season typically begins in late August and runs through Thanksgiving, Evan explained. They find a pop-up space for their headquarters each year—this time in a former warehouse in Bushwick—where the carving happens. “It’s kind of like the pumpkin version of Santa’s workshop,” Evan offered.
The vast majority of the work is based on commissions, which can involve months of preparation and back-and-forth with clients to revise and confirm the design. “Then once we get to drawing it on the pumpkin, that’s when the fun really starts,” Evan mused.
The artists are versatile, he explained, capable of carving in a variety of ways—from the intricate, multi-layered etched pieces that portray famous characters to the three-dimensional sculptural works that resemble more traditional carvings in wood or stone. They use a variety of art, kitchen, and hardware tools, such as small saws, serrated knives, linoleum cutters (typically used for printmaking), and clay loops (used for trimming in pottery). To ensure a vibrant glow, they wire the pumpkins internally like lamps. A single carved pumpkin can take anywhere from 2 to 12 hours to create, and as the company’s website indicates, their price tags range accordingly, from $150 to $800 a pop.