If nothing else, Brent Heuser knows how to evolve with the times. While Brent Pumpkins was hopping last season with carvings, Heuser brought his talents in-house this year, and has been working on some pretty amazing creations. His carvings of everything from Cher to Trixie Mattel and Katya has caught the attention of companies like Google, and Heuser is taking his act on the road, live carving at Asbury Lanes this Saturday, October 31st for a Halloween Sip & Carve, kicking off at 6pm. As Heuser packed up his tools to head to Asbury Park, we caught up on all things pumpkins this season, and how he has kept making the gourd-geous creations he is so known for.
Michael Cook: So it’s that time of year; Brent Pumpkins is back after a crazy year. How does it feel to dive back into the familiar after such an uncertain time this year?
Brent Heuser: Carving pumpkins in a pandemic, that is something I never ever thought would be a thing! Honestly, I had no idea what to expect from this 2020 season, but here we are! Surprisingly a lot of great work is coming through and some very exciting stuff coming up. Everyone has had to adapt in these unprecedented times and the pumpkin business has been doing just that. Luckily, I’m able to host digital classes and sessions, and I clean all my pumpkins with a bleach spray already before coronavirus, so I’m doing just fine here. I’m happy and healthy and my heart just goes out to anyone suffering during all of this. I think people need some joy out there. Carving pumpkins has always brought people that seasonal joy and certainly now more than ever I’m ready to offer that this year.
MC: You dove into some gourds pre-Halloween season and even a watermelon or two. What made you want to branch out a bit early this season?
BH: Haha you noticed I started earlier, eh? Mainly, I wanted to sharpen my sculpting skills. My pumpkin art is typically negative space, with a light illuminating the design. I wanted to keep branching out both on what I’m carving (sweet potatoes, butternut squash), but also work on sculpting a bit more, almost like working with clay. Except the clay is pumpkin, or watermelon. Watermelon art is INSANE, people make the wildest stuff out there, but it is SO messy. You really can sculpt any vegetable or fruit and make it art. I always like to push my own skills, as well as push the scale and spectacle of my work every year!
MC: You have done some truly amazing ones this year, particularly your Lady Gaga pumpkin. How do you choose your subjects? Anything fun coming up?
BH: Thank you! I actually have this really long list of pumpkin carving ideas in my notes and I keep adding to it every year. There are so many ideas I haven’t even gotten to carve because something comes up, or I have a better idea, or time simply runs out. Sometimes I’ll pull from this list or I’ll go off of something topical that’s happened. Like when the Notorious RBG passed I carved something in her honor. When it comes to the Lady Gaga pumpkins, I’m just a little monster at my heart. So I carve her yearly. She’s always up to something or her look changes and I just enjoy carving whatever version of her that she is that year. There are LOTS of fun subjects coming up, but I think I’m most excited to carve Trixie Mattel very soon.
MC: Carving is such a personal experience for so many; how are you adapting to the social distancing aspect of it?
BH: This is true, it is a very personal experience! I actually already carve from home and make a total mess out of my apartment for the month. As I mentioned before, I’m doing a lot of digital content this year. I started a fun YouTube series featuring tips and tricks and time lapses off how I carve some of my pumpkins. I also am doing digital sessions with Google this year providing some digital pumpkin carving and fun events. A lot of what I do is social media content as well for some clients. So I’ll carve a logo, or a portrait, and get all the media back to them and actually never have to have contact with anyone. It definitely will be different this year than previous ones, however, I’m just so grateful that pumpkin art is still in demand!
MC: Pumpkin carving truly what seems like your passion; what has it been like taking your passion and turning it into your actual career of sorts?
BH: Pumpkin art, and art in general, is definitely a passion of mine. I’ve always drawn my whole life on and off and when that skill was reignited via pumpkins, it just became this whole other thing. Then that thing became a business! Every year it gets bigger and the stress on a one man operation gets to be more and more, but I thrive in that. Turning this carving thing into a career that I can say, “I’m a professional pumpkin carver,” is both hilarious and rewarding. I really enjoy working for myself and owning my own business is very fulfilling. I’ve realized that more and more and that’s why I continue to branch out into other works like realistic charcoal drawings, painting, clay, you name it. I hope to offer more and more forms of art alongside pumpkins in the future!
MC: Pre-pandemic you toured with Countess Luann during her cabaret shows; ever do any carvings for her? Any plans to get back on the road when we all start to fill stadiums again?
BH: Yes! Life is a cabaret old chum! Touring with the Countess is the best. Her shows are so fun and her audiences are incredible. I have actually carved her last season! I think it was a post Halloween pumpkin though, I had a ton of pumpkins leftover and once the rush of the season is over and I’ve finished all my events, I like to make the last few designs of the year and wrap it up. Her pumpkin was one of those. I did her show a few times just a couple months before everything started. I’m always down to go back and sing for Luann, but I’m sure that’ll be sometime when we can safely fill the stadiums and theaters again!
MC: Drag is one of your biggest passions, and you even appeared on Monet X Change’s talk show last year. What queens are you dying to do a carving for that you are living for right now? (If you say Rita Baga…LOL)
BH: I Love Drag! You can go through my history of pumpkin carvings and see that for sure. I’ve carved a bunch of queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race and even got to carve with Monet on The XChange Rate last year, that was so fun. She’s so silly. Lol to this Rita Baga comment! I loved her on Drag Race Canada she was such a character and a great queen. I also happen to do an amazing impersonation of her… LOL. This year, I’m finally attacking the royalty that is Trixie and Katya. They’re getting pumpkins as well as that one infamous meme from the make up show Glow-Up. You know the one with the person in drag, and just looks, well, some sort of way lol. The internet went viral with that and Trixie even posted some hilarious memes with her and that face. I’m envisioning a little Halloween nativity scene with Trixie and Katya on separate pumpkins and their creepy meme baby or something. I know it’s weird, but stay tuned. Haha.
MC: Where can people find you when you’re not carving?
BH: Riding a Citibike down the west side of Manhattan still blaring Chromatica in my headphones waiting on a safe club to go dance out the album to! When I’m not doing that I tend bar at the Pieces, Hardware, Playhouse family in New York City. You can also find me attempting my own drag. You know me, I like to keep creatively busy, I like to learn and grow. Im always up to something!
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