Growing up, I loved me a Disney princess, but my love was just as strong, if not stronger, for the magical world of Tim Burton. The Nightmare Before Christmas was and remains my favorite film. My heart beats for the strange and unusual, Halloween being no exception.
I absolutely adore the Halloween season. I am my father’s daughter. Halloween was one of our many bonding points, which makes it so special to me, but there’s so many reasons to admire this time of year beyond my personal nostalgia. Fall, for one thing, far trumps any other season. (I would say “in my opinion,” but this happens to be a solid fact.) I also love the celebration of fall harvest and the last bit of growth before the dark cold comes. Most of all, I love and fully believe in the veil between the living and spirit world being at its absolute thinnest at the end of October. I love thinking that, just maybe, we get to intermingle and walk amongst one another. If I haven’t made it obvious, Halloween is my favorite holiday. I find it completely magical for all of these reasons, and I’m a dork for the dress up game. When you’re ginger, there’s just so many opportunities to take advantage of playing characters that most people are not naturally equipped to handle. (My head is a wig and dye free zone.)
Last year, whilst scrolling my Instagram feed endlessly, I came to learn that there was a HALLOWEEN community on instagram. (Honestly, what isn’t there a community for?) It made me the MOST excited and amongst the posts of fellow Halloween enthusiasts, I came across a cartoon that I fell in love with. His name is Pumkinhead (@hallowwoods), and he has been sincerely making my day everyday for over a year now with his daily Halloween countdown. As you may know from my past blogs, this year has been a doozy, and having this little character to follow around has made all the difference, and I mean that.
I am so grateful and so STOKED to bring you Matthew Woods, creator of Pumpkinhead and many other beautiful things, to my blog today. He gave me some really thoughtful, amazing answers for this interview, so read on, enjoy, feel festive and PLEASE check him out!
Where did your love of art begin? Likewise, where did your love of Halloween begin? How did the 2 eventually come to intersect to create the Pumpkinhead we know and love, as well as other creations I’m sure?
I inherited my love of art and my skills from my grandfather and began expressing them at a young age, so if feels like I’ve always loved art. I think Halloween connects naturally, as it can be a particularly artsy holiday, relying on mask making, costume building, and creature creating. I always create my own costume every year.
Pumpkinhead was actually born out of an annoyance with Christmas. Every year it’s pushed earlier and earlier into the fall season, where it doesn’t belong. I don’t mean to hate on a holiday based on gifting and joy but it sometimes feels a little forced. As a maker of Halloween, I feel it is my duty to push back. I began Pumpkinhead’s Instagram [@hallowoods] countdown in December of 2015 to inject a little macabre into all that tinsel.
What is your favorite part about Halloween season?
Scary movies have been a long-time favorite of mine. During the Halloween season I get to flex my film knowledge and show off a bit. A lot of people look down on the horror industry as low-brow but I will gladly argue it's cultural relevancy. Horror movies, like fairy tales, teach lessons and provide catharsis in ways that emotionally prepare us for the struggles of daily life. Wes Craven said “You don't enter the theater and pay your money to be afraid. You enter the theater and pay your money to have the fears that are already in you when you go into a theater dealt with and put into a narrative.” Every Monday in the month of October I host Monster Movie Monday and have introduced several people who thought they hated horror to these concepts. I’m making more fans!
How do you practice and set aside time for your craft and individual growth?
To me, working on my art and setting aside time for myself are the same thing. I enjoy working on my art because it feels restorative for me. I recharge when I get to sit quietly alone and methodically draw something that has been on my mind. One might say it is an exercise (or exorcise, if you prefer) of demons. I keep a relatively consistent schedule. I get up at the same time every day, go into the studio to work all afternoon, and then go to my bartending night job. My time for art allows me to be more patient, balanced, and sane when in the outside world.
How do you think you practice taking those skills into the real world to create positive impact and foster growth in society?
Whenever a discussion on whether art imitates life or life imitates art I immediately think of something Helena Bonham Carter said, “I think everything in life is art. What you do. How you dress. The way you love someone, and how you talk. Your smile and your personality. What you believe in, and all your dreams. The way you drink your tea. How you decorate your home. Or party. Your grocery list. The food you make. How your writing looks. And the way you feel. Life is art.” I couldn’t agree more. Whether it’s putting ink on paper, dressing the way I want to look, or taking an extra 30 seconds to make sure a garnish on a cocktail is just so, all of it is art. I think confidently embodying the idea that anything you do, in a way, is its own artistic expression is enough to encourage society to examine how they also effect the world around them, and how they want to affect the world around them. Through Pumpkinhead I feature the highs of life, like falling in love, acceptance, fun with friends, but I also embrace the lows, like self-damaging thoughts, feelings of inadequacy, stress. It has taken me a long time to feel alright with all sides of myself, and of course it’s still a journey. We’re all just trying to work it out as we go. Art and life are the same, they both are a process, and that is ok. It’s important to recognize.
6) Any parting words/shameless self promotions? Where can we find you?
My preference is that you follow me on Instagram: @hallowwoods. It’s where I show a lot of my work as I produce it, announce art shows and events, and encourage people to collect my work and other trinkets I produce. You can also sign up for my mailing list through my website: matthewwoodsart.com to get a more condensed version of what I do on social media. I have an art show up now through the end of November called October Country that is a selection of Halloween illustrations. If you’re in NYC it is at Arts + Crafts Beer Parlor 26 West 8th Street.
And as always, let me encourage you, whatever it is, to EMBRACE YOUR WEIRD.
I certainly will be making plans to check out his show when I’m in town. Again, a huge thank you to Matt for being a part of today’s Halloween installment of Alli Cat’s blog. I hope you enjoyed this week’s entry. Have a very happy and safe Halloween!! I’ll be spending mine down in DISNEY and will be sure to tell you all about it.