About Doug Goodreau—Professional Pumpkin Carver
In the late 80s, I moved to Los Angeles with the dream of designing and fabricating creatures for movies, so I decided to attend makeup effects school and work in the film industry. It was a great job to express my artistic interests while watching my imagination come to life on the big screen. Although I loved my job, I quickly learned that special effects gigs don’t provide consistent paychecks. I then decided to look for related work to do when I wasn’t working on movies. That’s when, like an open grave, I stumbled into the funeral industry.
Creating new life-like faces for the deceased was certainly an odd job, but my mortuary work allowed me to further develop my makeup & sculpture skills, gain valuable reference material for horror films, and maintain a flexible schedule when movie projects came along. My newfound interest compelled me to study the subject at Cypress College in 1990, where I would eventually go on to graduate from their Mortuary Science Program, specializing in restorative art (reconstruction of severe trauma cases). This career turn couldn’t have been a better fit, as the mortuaries I worked for were excited to have a “Hollywood makeup artist” on staff, while FX crews enjoyed having a “real mortician” to consult with on their team. My skill sets complimented these two industries perfectly.
In the next few years following, I began doing fossil preparation work in the Vertebrate Paleontology department at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Interestingly, I could once again readily apply my now well-honed skills in sculpting, molding, casting, and painting to paleontology and preparing fossils; filling in the missing pieces of real monsters in an effort to resurrect them from the past for display in the present.
The wonder of dinosaurs, as well as prehistoric beasts that have yet to be discovered, greatly inspired me to become more proficient in art as it applies to science. Graduating from California State University Northridge in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in Sculpture, I continue to work full-time at the museum and part-time as an independent contract embalmer. I completed my Master’s degree in business management by 2008 at the University of Redlands. Treating paleontology as a “business,” my extended education enables me to run a fossil preparation lab for the NHM’s Dinosaur Institute, as well as manage a quarry & do field work, quite well.
Now, when Halloween creeps around each year, I find that the culmination of my past work experiences of infusing life into the dead and my continuous need for artistic expression possesses me to carve pumpkins. This ancient art is rich in history, but allows each of us to apply our own individual modern, macabre twist. I hope some of my vegetarian-mixed media sculptures will inspire you to carve something completely different than the not so scary triangle eyes. Yes, it’s time to think outside the squash! Embrace your most frightening thoughts and implement them using your sharpest carving knife to design a truly unique, Halloween decoration. One of my favorite parts about being a professional pumpkin carver is inspiring others to let their imaginations run wild, while also giving them the tools to see their most spine-chilling ideas of death come to life.