Pumpkin Nights influences the lives of artistic professionals
Three artists and an event organizer, illustrate the impact that the event Pumpkin Nights can have in the life of an artistic professional
By Tyson Zullo
SALT LAKE CITY — Since 2016, Pumpkin Nights has been an organization dedicated to showcasing local artists via a very unique medium. Pumpkins, (most of them artificial) of all different shapes and sizes are used, not only to showcase the superb talent of local artists, but to create a memorable experience for their audiences. Pumpkin Nights is held in four cities: LA, Auburn, Denver, and Salt Lake City.
“I’ve done a few things building up to this,” says Toby Draper, who became associated with the Pumpkin Nights organization last year. “I’ve done tech jobs before I was an
account executive. Now it’s hard to describe exactly what I do, but it’s definitely more fulfilling,” says Draper. This year Draper participated in the Pumpkin Nights production of the Giant Octopus and both of the Pirate ships.
Being affiliated with Pumpkin Nights has played a significant role in Drapers’ artistic career, “It’s mainly helped me with my creativity, I’ve really learned how people interact with the things that you build,” he said.
Katie Kasen, also became involved last year through her sister Chelsea Kasen who is both one of the founders of Pumpkin Nights. While she was studying at BYU Katie was offered a job to work with the organization, and she decided to take a semester off studying. This year Kasen was tasked with the Styrofoam projects, and the nine foot giant Jack-O-Lynn. “I was able to use so many of my artistic skills, but at the same time develop more, there is so much that they don’t teach you in school.” she said.
This experience inspired Katie to change her major from chemical engineering to graphic design. Since then she was interviewed by BYU radio, and engaged in a freelance project for a local haunted house. “Pumpkin Nights has been a milestone in my career,” she said.
Alysa Orton graduated with a degree in illustration from BYU and became involved with the Pumpkin Nights project via a graphic design internship. “When I was in school I never thought that I would be working on Pumpkins” she said. Orton mainly worked on the owls, and the Day of the Dead sector. Along with working at Trader Joe’s, Orton would work two days a week at Pumpkin Nights, and she relished the experience. “It was really cool to have two days a week where I could be surrounded by a lot of creative people.”
Orton believes her portfolio has been “boosted” having participated in this event. Rather than just drawing, she was given the opportunity to be trained in, and utilize sculpting tools. “I had to learn how to simplify, which is such a big thing in design.”
As an event organizer, Chelsea Kasen has been involved for two years. At first she was seeking to start an event in Manhattan, but then she teamed up with John Tanner, and they decided to create an event inspired by Jack-O-Blaze in New York. Planning this event requires a full year, and before the event ends, the organizers are already planning for next year.
“As the event is going, I am thinking about what other markets we will go into next year,”
says Chelsea Kasen. The organization utilizes feedback from participant surveys to develop future plans, and as an event organizer Kasen not only works on the product, but sets up guides for current and future event directors.
The artists who work at this event, possess the skills to implement the vision, however they have never done it on such a large scale. “Working here they are forced to streamline processes, think of better ways to do things, use cheaper materials, and figure out how to make something last for a while,” says Chelsea Kasen. Not only does Pumpkin nights showcase the talent of these artists, it also focus its efforts on recruiting other industrial design companies such as TEA, a company that specializes in global networking for artists.
Pumpkin Nights is much more than it appears to be on its surface. Artists who engage in the vision of the organization are presented with opportunities that challenge their abilities to think critically, work well with a team, and become more efficient. Pumpkin Nights not only focuses on showcasing local artists but training them as well; helping them reach new heights both in their knowledge and artistic abilities.
It is an unforgettable experience which enchants its audience, and provides the artists an opportunity to truly “do something that is meaningful,” says Draper.