Have you ever wondered where to find inspiration for cakes? Had it happened that you have a cake to make but have no clue where start? Where to look for cake ideas? How to design a cake? What colors to use for your cakes? I hope this post will help you with some answers.
When I started cake decorating it would embarrass me to think that I had no clue how to design my cake. What's worst is that I had some ideas in my head but no clue what to do with those ideas. At a cake consultation, I'd draw a complete blank!! Has this happened to you? If you are new then it probably has. I know some of you must feel the same way. I have had this discussion with a few of you over messages.
But, trust me it is just the beginning phase and as you continue to do more cakes, your mind will wander and dream into inspiration.
Being a self-taught cake decorator
Back in 2009, I made delicious cakes! But there were not custom decorated. I started venturing into cake decorating and I can honestly tell you I sucked!! (well compared to today at least) But I was crazy about cake decorating. I wished so much that I could make those gorgeous cakes. So I started my career based on my passion - not talent.
Of course, I had to learn from YouTube. There were no cake decorating courses here and the one that was there was so basic I already knew to use a piping bag and do some basic piping stuff.
Anyway, long story short. I had to learn myself; on my own; online and with no money to spend on tools or practice. Most of my training on the job was if I took a small order from friends and family who paid me the cost of the cakes so I could decorate.
The dilemmas of a beginner
I remember one of my earlier problem use to be - Creating my design. I wanted to be original and not just copy someone else's cake.
The biggest fear - what if the things I put together aren't aesthetic? The color combination could be off, this pattern may not match.
Often I'd see some cake decorators do really pretty unique cakes. In groups they'd say things like - Oh there is so much inspiration around. I see cake everywhere!!
Guess what? Today I do see cake everywhere! Back then I didn't see cake anywhere, nothing looked like cake to me!!
If I saw a tablecloth - it looked like a tablecloth to me. I had no clue how to visualize my cake on that tablecloth. If I saw a painting - I'd know it's a painting but - the vision of a cake in that painting? Nope - didn't see it!
Often this made me wonder if I had taken the right job as my profession. I'd always say - what good is passion without any talent?
Guess what? I was wrong!! Passion is everything. It's what got me to where I am today. In my mind, I still have a long long way to go but my passion for cake decorating helps me design the cake I do today! That's something right?
For example - Today I can see a couple of cake designs on that one tablecloth and that painting can make my mind sing cake in so many ways. Yes, I come up with my own designs.
I know a few of you who are going through similar dilemmas as beginners and I want to reach out and tell you - it's OK! It's normal to feel this way; especially in this world with so much talent pouring out.
This first cake was made for Cake Masters Magazine for the Queen's 90th Birthday. You can read more about the inspiration - Fit for the queen. The second was my own inspired by the colors of Christmas
So what changed from then to now for me?
Why is it that today I can see things differently? How come I can vision cake everywhere?
It's because my mind is conditioned to think of cake. When I first started it was new to me and my brain was trying to process this new profession I ventured into. Everything was new! It takes time for the mind to kinda get into the groove and look at things differently. Over time I've worked with so much cake that my brain is now saturated with cake ideas and inspiration I have been browsing all this time. Even my subconscious now has cake!! Makes sense?
So you see, it's OK that the beginning is a blur - over time you will get to a stage where you will find things get easier.
What worked as inspiration for me
When I started - like I said I did not get inspired by things around me -from pictures, posters, and movies. I would get inspired by cakes. Cakes made by others. I found that If I needed a cake - all I had to do was - go to google images and type the theme - for example, castle cake - and that would help me design a new cake from scratch. I didn't need to use any particular cake just watching those cakes would get my creative juices flowing and I'd create a design from scratch. Of course, inspired by all those techniques and colors I would see in the other cakes.
Also, I used to have many folders/catalogs on my computer with cakes for different themes. I use to use them for my cake consultation. Remember above I said I'd draw a complete blank at the cake consultation. Yes! I hated it - it's like my brains would freeze. I'd feel so dumb!!
But these folders would be a great help. I'd pick cakes that I think I could create and I'd show my customers these as inspiration from the web. So that way they'd pick things I know I can do.
Inspiration from cakes vs. inspiration for real things
I still do look at a lot of cakes and get inspired too, but today I like to look at real things for inspiration. like paintings, pictures of pottery, graphic design, dresses, etc.
Ideally, it's best to look at the real thing to get inspiration - why? because then you are drawing inspiration from the real thing. If you look at a cake that has already drawn inspiration from the real thing then basically you are drawing inspiration from an inspiration. And you could miss out on all the other elements that are not used in that inspiration. Make sense?
Having said that - there is nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from an inspiration. I did it too! It's what works best for you. So don't pressure yourself to think differently. Go with the flow.
Where to look for inspiration
There are many places to go for inspiration. You can go to
- famous cake artist website and use their work as inspiration.
- You can go to event management sites online - they post inspiration for their brides.
- You can look at fashion magazines. Cake Magazines, American cake decorating magazine, etc,
- You can go to my cake website - at the bottom of every tutorial I have a few cake images for inspiration.
- Recently, one of my go-to places for inspiration is Pinterest boards. It's free!!
What is Pinterest?
For me, it's similar to those many folders/catalogs (I mentioned above) I use to have for inspiration but instead of having them on my computer I now have them in boards in my Pinterest account.
What's best is that you can share these inspirations with everyone which is even more inspiring. And you can follow people whose work inspires you so you can see what inspires them. You get to see what they have pinned for inspiration.
When you are browsing online - If you see something that you like very much and want to save it for later. Instead of bookmarking that site on your browser or PC- all you do is - PIN IT - that post or tutorial or cake or recipe or article.... (you get the point)
So basically it's a place where you can collect information that you may need in the future. Ever had this thought come to you?
- Oh, I remember I saw that cake tutorial - don't know where?
Guess what? if you pinned it to your cake tutorial board on Pinterest, all you have to do is look at the board.
- Here's another thought -You saw a recipe on a blog - but I cannot find it now!!
Guess what again - If you follow a blogger (such as me - Veena Azmanov on Pinterest) all you have to do is go to her boards and it's right there.
- You can use Pinterest to create any board that interests you Art, craft, cakes, food, pottery, painting, piano lessons, business - I have some boards like Kids' room decor and tools I like. Products I used on my cakes
- You can even create Private Boards for those personal Pins you don't want others to see - for example, I have my wishlist of things I'd like to buy on a private board. Sometimes you just like to keep things for yourself.
How I use Pinterest and how it helps me with inspiration for cakes
The best way to explain this is of course by showing you my own Pinterest account. When you get a chance I'd like to invite you to visit my account on Pinterest.
You will have to create an account if you don't already have one (it's Free and totally worth it) Follow me if you like then browse thru to see what boards I have. Go ahead click them and see what I have pinned on them. This will give you an idea of how I use them.
Being a Cake Artist and a Food Blogger means I am interested in all things cake and food - First, you will find
- My stuff - My Blog Recipes, My blog Cake Tutorials, My Videos, My Cakes - so people can find and repin my stuff for their future use.
- Cake - lots of boards related to cake ideas, cake inspirations, and cake tutorials from around the web.
- Food - boards related to food recipes - breakfast, appetizers, meals, etc. all pinned from around the web.
I use Pinterest for my cake consultations
Yes, I do. Often my cakes are ordered from overseas which means the bride is discussing her cake in the email.
In this case, when I ask the bride - what design she wants for her wedding? If she has any ideas? What is her theme? Color combinations? Sometimes they only have ideas of colors, a concept but find it hard to visualize a cake.
In this case, I will send her links to the painting, cake, or color chart to refer to. It's often better to let her see the color chart than me to say blue and not know what shade of blue we are talking about.
Often I will create a private board just for her and let her join me on that board so she can be pinned things she likes. This helps us discuss ideas that would have otherwise been only possible only across the table.
So you see Pinterest has replaced those folders/catalogs from my computer with an online site. I love Pinterest cause it's now so easy to keep things organized - I don't have to search. I can follow people whose work inspired me, and get notified when they upload a new cake so I can re-pin it to my own board for inspiration.
Where do you find inspiration for your cakes? I'd love to see your inspiration.
Thank you so much for sharing so many useful tips! I am so excited as I read your website. I have baked many cakes as a hobby but only learned to decorate last year. I began baking from home end of last year. Everything you shared is so true that as I read I felt like you were reading my thoughts! I will continue to read and put into practice. May God bless you mightily.
Thank you, Esther. I am so happy you found this article useful. Most of us bakers have similar experiences, some more severe. I wish you all the best if you start your new cake business. Practice is important at all stages of cake decorating.
Lovely post. I have been following Pinterest for sometime for inspiration and I would definitely love to read your views on how to use those inspirations on a cake!!..Thanks
Thanks Mary. As I showed in this post I love using Pinterest for my cakes. You can check out some of my boards and see what I have saved for inspiration
I love this Veena! I feel so similar - when I started out, I just looked at cakes, and now I really do see inspiration everywhere. It just took some time. I love gift wrap, wallpaper, clothing (especially funky kids tops), postcards, greetings cards, art, and even promo material from films and tv! I hardly ever use actual cakes for inspiration any more....
Thank you Liz. So happy to hear that..!! I think most beginners don't realized that it's normal to feel like that. Thanks for sharing and your lovely comment.