Tyson Zullo

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 My Story: Pumpkin Nights influences the lives of artistic professionals 


Bio photoAbout Me

Experienced Guest Services Coordinator with a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit industry. Skilled in communication, analysis, adaptability, teamwork, and critical Thinking. Strong operations professional, who is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree focused in Strategic Communication at the University of Utah.

Reflection Blog 

When I learned that the primary mission of the organization Pumpkin Nights was to showcase local artists, I was really fascinated with the idea. It drove me to ask questions such as “To what extent does this organization go, to aid the artists in achieving recognition?” and “How has being affiliated with the organization Pumpkin Nights, benefited the artists?” I began to look at this organization through a new scope, and I was suddenly overcome with a desire to discover the answers to these questions and learn the truth for myself.  I decided to tell the untold story, of how Pumpkin Nights has made an impact in the lives of artistic professionals.

On the website there is no direct number that can be used to contact an event organizer, fortunately however the company does have a section on their Instagram page that contains the contact information of the participating artists. Via direct messenger, I was able to message artists Toby Draper, Katie Kasen, and Scott Hard. I never heard back from Hard, however Draper and Kasen responded immediately, they were very supportive with this story, and they referred me to their fellow colleague Alyssa Orton, and an event organizer, Chelsea Kasen.

I strongly feel that these sources were the best for this story in particular, because they all have experienced the benefits of being affiliated with this organization on a first-hand basis. It was so fascinating how each of the artists were able to provide diverse angles on the story, and have benefited from their association with this organization in their own unique way. The most remarkable thing that I was able to learn while writing this story is, Pumpkin Nights not only strives to help local artists gain recognition, but they also train, and help these artist develop the necessary skills in order to take their artistic careers to new heights.

Pumpkin Nights Influences the lives of artistic professionals 

By Tyson Zullo

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah— Three artists and an event organizer, illustrate the impact that the event Pumpkin Nights can have in the life of an artistic professional.

Since the year 2016 Pumpkin Nights has been an organization that is dedicated to showcase local artists, via a very unique medium. Pumpkins, (most of them being artificial) of all different shapes and sizes, that are used not only to showcase the superb talent of local artists but create a memorable experience for its audience. This event now is held in four cities which are LA, Auburn, Denver, and Salt Lake City.

Toby Draper was able to become associated with the Organization last year, “I’ve done a few things building up for this, 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,” (Draper). This artist participated in the 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 (Draper).

Katie Kasen, became involved last year, through her sister Chelsea Kasen who is both one of the founders, and an event organizer of Pumpkin Nights. While she was studying at BYU she was offered a job to work there, and she decided to take a semester off studying. Katie  worked at Pumpkin Nights in the previous year, however this year she was placed on a different team. 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 (Kasen).

This experience inspired Katie to change her major from chemical engineering to graphic design, and she was also 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 (Kasen).

Alysa Orton who graduated with a degree in illustration from BYU, became involved with this project via a graphic design internship, “When I was in school I never thought that I would be working on Pumpkins” she said (Orton). Orton mainly worked on the owls, and the Day of the Dead sector. Along with working at Trader Joes, Orton would work two days a week at Pumpkin Nights, and she relished the experience. “It was really cool to have 2 days a week where I could be surrounded by a lot of creative people,” (Orton).

Orton feels that her portfolio has been “boosted” having participated in this event. Rather than just drawing, she was granted 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,” (Orton).

Chelsea Kasen, is one of the organizers for this event, and she has been involved for two years. At first she was seeking to start an event in Manhattan, but then she became affiliated with John Tanner, and they decided to create an event that was 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,” (Kasen). This organization utilizes the feedback from participant surveys in order to diagram a plan, and as an event organizer Kasen not only works on the product, but sets up guides for either previous event directors or newly hired ones.

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,” (Kasen).  Not only does Pumpkin nights showcase the talent of these artists, but they also focus their efforts on recruiting other Industrial design companies such as TEA, a company that specializes in global networking for artists.

There is much more than appears at the surface of this event, and its mission. Evidently the artists who engage in implementing the vision of this organization will be presented with opportunities that will challenge their abilities to think critically, work well with a team, and become more time efficient. Pumpkin Nights does not only focus on showcasing local artists but training them as well, and help them reach new heights both in their knowledge and artistic abilities. It is an unforgettable experience which enchants its audience, and grants the artists the opportunity to truly “do something that is meaningful,” (Draper).

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