We caught up with the man, the myth, the pumpkin-carving legend, Ray Villafane.

“The Michelangelo of pumpkin carving”

Hailed by Martha Stewart as “the Michelangelo of pumpkin carving”, Queens-born Villafane now lives in Arizona. He graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City and went on to teach art for 13 years in Michigan. 

Villafane then started work as a sculptor with DC Comics, Warner Bros. and Hasbro and in 2006, when he was invited to take part in a TV series called ‘Halloween Wars’, his pumpkin legacy began.

Villafane has crafted pieces for a score of A list clients (from Heidi Klum to The Whitehouse) and holds the Guinness World Record for the largest pumpkin sculpture - taking 16 hours to carve and weighing in at over 1500kg (that’s a lot of pie).

What do pumpkins have to do with Habito?

Our research found that a quarter of people will be carving a pumpkin to put on their doorstep this year - that’s a whopping 16.75 million of them! And, aside from the fun and creativity pumpkin carving brings, 1 in 5 people feel that seeing pumpkin lanterns on doorsteps makes them want to live in that area more. 

Our conversation with Ray

Here’s what he had to say about home, Halloween and his stunning work.

Firstly, what does home mean to you?

“Home means family, relaxing, creating - it’s as easy as that!” 

Do you think that the place where you live influences your art?

“My home definitely influences my art. My studio is in my house and many of my creations can be found throughout the entire home. I intentionally make my environment magical.” 

Were you at all sceptical about working on a commission for a mortgage company?!

“I honestly didn’t think twice as to the type of company Habito is! That’s because, typically I don’t do commissions - but with this, I realised you wanted to give me total creative freedom so that was a huge plus. Also, it was aligned with things I had already set intentions to do. I’m really glad we could collaborate and how the carving turned out.”

How do you celebrate Halloween in your community? 

“Sadly not by being in my neighbourhood…I’m never home at Halloween! 

As you can imagine, it’s an incredibly busy time of year, every year. I am now in the process of moving my studio into a Ghost Town! So, we will begin to create movie shorts from there, as well as hosting a large Halloween event from that space - so that’s where I’ll be this 31 October. “

Habito asked Ray to create the gnarliest pumpkin we’d ever seen, and he didn’t disappoint.

Seedy Sligworts smelled like dung,
Sucking on his cigars with his pale blue tongue,
His missing teeth and bumpy rind,
Seemed to compliment his devious mind.
He'd buy stale candy, and rub it on his feet,
And sneak it into bags, when it was time to Trick or Treat.
With beady yellow eyes, and thoughts so obscene,
He'd curse at all the kids, then tell them HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
—Ray Villafane