Artistic Freedom? Yes please!

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Ή Παναγιώτα έχει πάρει άδεια αλλά όταν έχει χρόνο θα κάνει και στα Ελληνικά και θα ξανά ποστάρουμε!
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Being a professional artist means having a bit of a balancing act on our hands between pleasing the paying customer and having artistic integrity. Few are the cake decorators who are fortunate enough to be able to afford to turn down work because they don’t like the cake the customer wishes them to make. So what do we do when a customer wants us to make something we consider tacky and tasteless? Here we have to decide whether we refuse the work and maybe have a loss of income or put our name to something we would really rather not be associated with! I know a lot of cake decorators that will make the order and just not publish their work on their site/Facebook page. This seems a happy balance for many. Of course there is the more tricky option of trying to persuade the customer round to something you consider to be better but you run the risk of offending the potential customer/bride by implying that they have no taste! Personally I haven’t turned down a cake because I don’t like the concept, I have turned down work though a few times if I know I can’t do it. I know where my biggest weakness lies and that is with pipe work. So in the past when somebody has asked for black piped icing scrolls on a white cake I have had to say ‘no’. I would prefer to lose the order than give a cake the customer would not be happy with (and risk the possibility of appearing on Cake Wrecks*! )
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I haven’t found the answer. But what I do know is that my cakes turn out better when the customer trusts me enough to give me some artistic freedom. Being kept on a tight leash means less creativity, less room for changing things when you have the cake in front of you. Many times I have something in my head and things haven’t come out exactly as I’d imagined (not necessarily in a bad way) but having a bit of freedom means you can improvise and try different things out until you see what works best. Many times we will place an object but it doesn’t look quite right and we can move things around and see what works best. Other times as you are making the cake you may have a flash of inspiration and think of something you hadn’t thought about whilst in the planning stages of the cake. If you have the go-ahead from the customer to work your magic you can do so with no fear. If the customer has been very specific about what they want or calls every half hour with changes it makes it harder to create that magic. A few times when something is just not working out I have contacted the customer and told them and explained the situation and they have invariably said –‘go ahead and do what will look best’.

Of course you may ask why I think my idea of taste and what is working and what is not counts more than that of the customer. Art is very subjective after all. But at the end of the day hasn’t the customer chose me rather than other cake decorators to fulfill their cake needs? I assume that is because they like my work, my ideas, my taste!
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To demonstrate I thought I would take you through some photographs of my cakes…because when I look through my portfolio I see that the most liked cakes, the most shared on Facebook and the most popular are those where the customer has given me the most artistic freedom. I don’t claim that I haven’t taken my inspiration from elsewhere, my favourite cakes are those where I have had an invitation or some other item so I get a feel of what the customer wants and then I’ve been able to use that to create a cake.
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Let me start with cakes I have made for Tessie’s children over the last few years. Being a creative person herself (check out her page) Tessie is probably my customer that gives me most freedom. Let’s start with one of my most well-known cakes and personally one of my favourites. Mater.
Mater cake τουρτα μπαρμπας
I’d been burning to make Mater for a long time after seeing the Mater made by one of my favourite cake artists Dot from Eat Cake Party and falling in love. At the time this was probably one of the most technically challenging of the cakes I’δ made and it took me 16 hours to decorate (that’s just to carve and decorate so doesn’t include time needed for baking, making ganache etc). Tessie just told me that she wanted cake with Mater on and her budget. That was it. So I made this. He is one of the few cakes that I actually didn’t want to give away. We spent 3 days together and I fell in love! Another of my favourite cakes is one I made for Tessie’s daughter. Tessie sent me a picture of the gift boxes for her daughter’s party and asked me to make a cake to match, the only requirement was that her daughter wanted a cat and dog on the top. vintage peony cake lace dog cat πεωνιαWe spent a long time getting it right, for the lace hanging around the sides I had used about 4-5 different kind of lace but they just weren’t right. This one was the one that worked best. The bow & edible brooch were something I thought of as I made the cake –‘something’ was missing and since Tessie allows me freedom I came up with this. For the latest cake I made for Tessie’s daughter I had even greater freedom. All that Tessie told me is that her daughter is a bit of a dreamer & to surprise her. That was all and I came up with this for which I had a lot of positive feedback (I have to say this one looked nice in real life than in the photo!) dreamer cake 1I have now made many cakes for Tessie’s family but I won’t fill this page with just those! I will share though one for Tessie’s customer. Tessie had a crocheted flower theme for a baptism she was organizing. We had discussed an idea for the cookie. But when I came to make it it looked awful. A quick phone call later to inform Tessie and I got the response I knew I would ‘do whatever you like, I trust you!’μισκοτα λουλουδια crocheted crochet flower cookie

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Another person who I love working with is Elena from RockPaperScissors who has brought event designing in Greece to another level. She is for me the ‘go to’ event planner for the most chic occasions! Elena and I started working together when we first both started our companies & I haven’t looked back. Once again I have too many cakes and sweets made for events organized by Elena to share here but you can check out all her work here. I want to share one with you in particular. Elena had to organize a baptism for a special little lady and gave me complete freedom of what I would make, I just had the invitation to go on made by ‘Love Me Do’. Once again I heard the words that I could make what I wanted ‘I trust you’ she said! Of course this is the wonderful! I can make what I want with just the invitation to go on!….but it also struck fear in my heart! Elena is the best at what she does and I felt a lot of pressure to not disappoint her! Fortunately, Elena was very happy with what I came up with. And the very talented photographer Monika of Fiorello Photography captured everything beautifully on film.silouette

Another one of my favourite cakes is the owl cake. Again the customer just sent me an invitation to get inspiration from and the budget and let me free. All credit though goes to 3 Peas Prints who made the beautiful invitation. With such a beautiful design to take inspiration from I couldn’t go wrong! owl cake τουρτα κουκουβαγια

Another cake of mine that went viral was the Minnie Mouse in a car. This was for my koumbaroi’s daughter. After going over a lot of ideas for designs I found this picture of a Minnie Mouse toy car and suggested we made this into cake with Minnie inside. They agreed and let me get on with it. This was also one of the more difficult cakes to make. They also asked me to fit some broccoli & cauliflower in somewhere since their daughter loves it but let me decide how we would get it in. We decided to put the photograph on the FB page without this personal touch but here you can see it with the added vegetable that my assistant Panayota made!τουρτα minnie mouse cake

Here is another inspired by a paper napkin.
plane train car
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I want to leave you with some cakes ordered by a customer that on the whole has given me the most challenging set of cakes to make. Cake artists may be able to make technically difficult cakes but unless we have customers who appreciate our work and are willing and able to pay for things that may take up to a week to make we are nowhere! Once again this customer gives me the brief & then lets me get on with making them!penny

*of course appearing on Cake Wrecks Sunday Sweets where they post their favourite cakes is a different story and I have had the honour of appearing 3 times 

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