HALIFAX -- With Halloween approaching, many Maritimers may be sharpening their pumpkin carving skills.

But they’ll have trouble matching the skills of a Halifax art teacher who has a remarkable talent for replicating celebrities in gourd form.

When October rolls around, pumpkins are the canvas of choice for Halifax’s Matt Bustin, who pulls out all the stops on his creative carvings.

“People get excited every year asking what I’m going to carve,” says Bustin.

An art teacher at Halifax Christian Academy, Bustin is willing to tackle any challenge when it comes to carving.

“Tonight I’m carving a burger for Halifax Burger Week, so that should be kind of fun,” says Bustin.

But it is his pop culture pumpkins that have become his forte, going viral on his social media.

“The very first one that I went for was one of Will Smith,” recalls Bustin. “I did The Rock, Justin Bieber, Millie Bobbie Brown from Stranger Things, she actually liked it on Instagram so that was kind of fun.

This year’s creation is a tribute to the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“Honouring somebody’s life who has passed away that was pretty influential in the world. Somebody who was very current. It’s a way to honour them,” says Bustin.


My first pumpkin commission, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

A post shared by Matt Bustin (@mattbustin) on

Bustin starts by stenciling the design onto the exterior of the pumpkin. Then, the knives come out.

“I just start to carve away the skin, and once you start to carve the skin away, you can see light through it a little bit.”

Bustin says it takes about four to five hours to carve each of his celebrity jack-o-lanterns, depending on the intricacy of the design.

“The deeper you go into the skin, the lighter the areas are, so it’s kind of like an inverted drawing in a way,” says Bustin.

Since his masterpieces only last about three to four days, he’s had to turn down offers for some custom creations.

However, Bustin says he does take some pleasure in the limited shelf life of his work.

“I kind of like that it’s a temporary thing,” says Bustin. “Just a little bit of art that’s in the world briefly and people can enjoy it. It’s a pumpkin at the end of the day!”

A fleeting art that leaves jaw-dropping impressions on those who get to see his creative carvings. 


Who'll it be this year? Throw out some ideas!

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