Brian Blair, a display and prop artist, owns Scarevania. Scarevania is located at 1911 N. Granville Ave. in Muncie. Stephanie Amador, DN
Scarevania owner makes horror his business
Found at 1911 N. Granville Ave. in Muncie, the headquarters of Scarevania scream Halloween year round.
If the large sign with a giant, red arrow and the name “Scarevania” don’t draw attention, the fortune teller wagon and the ramshackle house and stage might. These displays, however, are only a few examples of what Brian Blair, owner of Scarevania, creates every day.
As a display and prop artist, Blair specializes in the themes of horror, gore and the demented. While Halloween is usually just a once-a-year holiday for most, Blair has turned it into a year-round profession and calls Scarevania his “demented child.”
“I was always kind of into scary stuff, even as a kid, so it kind of all started out as a kid making models and stuff in my room,” Blair said.
As a young adult, however, Blair never planned on using horror as a source of income.
Originally from Indianapolis, Blair graduated from Ball State in 1992 with a fine arts degree in graphic design. He started doing display and prop art professionally when he and his brother began working for children’s museums doing murals and eventually 3D designs.
“The scary stuff was really more of a hobby during that time,” Blair said.
On the other hand, his display art business was thriving. Having decided to stay in Muncie after starting a family, he opened Brian Blair Studios, which serviced many family fun centers throughout the community.
“A lot of people know me for doing the giant candle in [Warm Glow Candle Outlet] on [Interstate] 70, that big, thirty-foot tall candle. I’ve done a lot of stuff all over the country.” Blair said.
While building his business, he also decided to try selling Halloween-themed items. In 2006 he founded Pumpkin Pulp, which sells his creations at haunted attraction trade shows in cities such as St. Louis and New Orleans.
“[I] started making some masks and props for the haunted industry, and that started through Pumpkin Pulp,” said Blair. “That started doing so well, I was like, ‘okay, I’ll push a little bit and see what happens’ and then, like I said, it just took off.”
His success with Pumpkin Pulp inspired Blair to create his own haunted attraction: Scarevania. It was first located in Blair’s father-in-law’s gas station.
“I had two weeks to do it and i was like, ‘I’m going to do it,’ so we actually had the first year of Scarevania there,” Blair said. “It was smaller, but it was a pretty big success. We had a few thousand people go through it. Then it got to the point when it got big, so we had to move it.”
Scarevania was then moved to its current location and Brian Blair Studios was converted from work for family fun centers to Blair’s Halloween headquarters.
Blair has created several successful lines such as a variety of masks, which are of both animal and human faces. All of the masks are missing eyes, and most have blood, gashes, carvings on their foreheads and stitched mouths.
“Our top seller is one that’s called Lucky Rabbit. It’s like a demented Easter bunny and we have sold tons and tons of that — hundreds of them,” Blair said. “And we have zombie heads and stuff that sit on the wall and their tongues swing back and forth and those went crazy too.”
His new line of Forevermore baby dolls, however, has found success among collectors and haunted attractions. With a mishmash of animal parts, the dolls and all their parts are made in-house with only the little fabric bodies being outsourced.
Stephanie Hutchison, a Muncie local who has worked at Scarevania for four weeks, spends her days sewing these dolls.
“These are a lot more fun to make,” Hutchison said. “They start out as nothing and then they have a little bit of life after they’re done.”
As for Blair’s inspiration in making his creepy creations, he said he typically just sits down and lets “what happens happen.”
“Everybody asks, ‘do you sketch stuff up and all that?’ and I really don’t,” Blair said. “When I’m doing a mask I kind of think of an idea I might want to do and I just sit with an amount of clay and just see what comes out. I don’t like to be too conformed to stuff.”
Currently, Blair only has four people working for him.
“I’m pretty selective of who we bring in,” Blair said. “I just want to make sure everything meshes together and everyone gets along and is the right fit for it.”
One perk of working for Blair is that employees are allowed to act in the show if they want to. Blair personally has enjoyed playing characters such as Cousin Cooter the ice cream man and Bye Eubanks, a dead game show host.
Not every employee, however, enjoys participating in the shows.
“I actually don’t like haunted houses,” Hutchison said. “I’ve walked through, but there has been nobody there to scare me and the lights are on, but that’s enough. I appreciate the horror, I just don’t like being scared.”
For the shows, Blair typically casts 40 to 50 actors a year. Many of them have been working at Scarevania since its first year.
Each year Scarevania hosts events such as Scaryoake and Sage Carnival Cabaret, but the attractions at Scarevania have grown into a thing of their own.
“We also built the fortune teller wagon. We have a lady who comes and does actual fortunes, she does tarot cards and all that,” Blair said. “She actually gets people now coming just to see her, so it’s not just the haunt anymore.”
Even with his success, Blair said his journey has not been easy.
“I have been very fortunate,” Blair said. “With Pumpkin [Pulp], it started out decent but I couldn’t do it year-round by any means, but I did come up with a few masks and a few products that just went crazy, and that is honestly what you need to do.”
Recent ventures for Scarevania include another haunted attraction called Son of Scarevania, held at Cornerstone Center for the Arts. Blair has also gotten into wholesale with specialty costume-type stores selling his wares around the country, such as The Magic Parlor in Salem, Massachusetts.
Blair’s devotion to his business inspires him to continue to set goals for the future and continue to improve all the projects he works on.
“We’ll just see where it goes, you know,” Blair said. “See if I can get a little bit bigger, it has worked out great [so far].”
Contact Seren Pekola with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.