- Anna Weisend
- 12 Dec 2018
In last month’s blog post we discussed how techniques and ideas are shared in both the art and cake communities. While it is always hard to totally reinvent something, there are always ways to take inspiration to a different level. It’s the difference between being a cake decorator, who is an excellent replicator and being a cake designer, someone who tweaks the status quo into something that makes people stop and take notice.
Most sugar artists prefer being thought of as a designer or an innovator. But where does the inspiration come from?
Everyone can find inspiration if they look hard enough. It is actually more of a habit or discipline than a lightning bolt. The most important factor is being a noticer.
Be a Noticer
Being a noticer is simply the act of looking at your surroundings. Take a minute to be mindful of where you are at. Look at the details. It might be nature, it might be the carpeting under your feet, it could be the unusual patina of that thing-a-ma-bob in the basement. It can come from other things that are beautiful or the beauty hiding behind something that has been forgotten and neglected. There is color, shape, line, sounds, and smells that, when noticed, can be the jumping off point for some great ideas.
If you are not a born noticer, you take the time to learn and practice.
Take the time to slow down and take note of things. When you walk into a space, pick out one thing that you like, even if that space isn’t ‘your style’. When something does give you a spark of enjoyment, take a moment to decide what it is that speaks to you. Is it the color? The shape? It’s elegance? It’s whimsy? Taking the time to do these exercises will help you become better at noticing and help you be more discerning of a situation
Let the Medium Speak to You
Sometimes inspiration is a no-brainer when you look at the medium you are working with. The medium may mimic properties of something not used in the sugar world.
For example, it should go without saying that Isomalt mimics glass. It can be molded, blown, pulled, slumped, and poured almost exactly like glass. So it is not a big jump to be inspired by glass when using isomalt.
Fondant, gumpaste, modeling chocolate, and marzipan have sculpting qualities like clay. Buttercream can mimic oil paint and food coloring can mimic watercolor. The very way that they work can inspire a creation.
Inspiration Doesn’t Need to Be Visual
Inspiration can also come from things we don’t see but experience. Music, dance, a feeling, a memory, texture can trigger ideas. It could go on and on. Honor things that create a spark even if it doesn’t feel related to cake and sugar. Someday, it may very well be the impetus of something creative.
What the Sugar Artists Said
If inspiration is still hard for you to wrap your head around, I consulted some of today's favorite sugar artists and asked what their favorite source of inspiration was and why. Perhaps you can take a cue from them. This is what they said.
Colette Peters: “The best way I get inspired is by taking objects, could be fondant, cutters, colors and playing with them over and over until it's "right"...like for my coloring book, I would juxtapose things that didn't go together, such as an ice cream cone, with jewelry, and keep drawing it until it looked right. I also look through magazines for ideas, bridal magazines, house and garden magazines, anything.”
Timbo Sullivan: “I normally look to art, all art, when I'm trying to get inspired. Paintings, sculptures, sketches, tattoos. I follow hundreds of artists online who all use different mediums. I also get a TON of Inspiration from movies and TV. Movies and shows from Tim Burton, Rob Zombie, Stephen King and Guillermo Del Toro especially, because of the art in their movies. Their use of color, costumes, movie makeup, set design and CGI. Nothing gets me more inspired to create than movies.”
Vanessa Greeley: “I normally find myself taking pics of old buildings (moldings ) as well as carpet designs, wallpapers, and even nature .. there may be a pattern that I like and take a pic of that too ... I try not looking at other people’s work because I find it taints my thoughts and I don’t want to end up doing the same thing as everyone else having said that .. some brides will send me their inspiration pics but I often convince them to add a little something to personalize it and tailor it to them .. I use a design on their dress or decorations from their party as inspiration”
Debbie Brown: “I go back to bedtime stories as a child and what my imagination conjured up without influence from what we are bombarded with today.”
Brooke Kirchurchak: “I love finding unique ideas on Pinterest. Pottery, paper art, watercolor, and collage are some favorite keywords to search to find general ideas. There's such a vast wealth of knowledge and an incredible depth of artistic talent. It can be quite overwhelming because I want to include EVERYTHING in one particular project. In order to reign it all in, I ask my clients for specific things that really speak to them. A dress, an invitation, a favorite piece of art, a special place, even an inside joke...all of these things are starting points to creating a one of a kind centerpiece cake. I can then apply those artistic techniques and ideas to their cake. My goal is to seek out more clients who will allow me to be more creative rather than just recreating another artist's design. That's the downside of Pinterest...people see something they love from someone else and it's sometimes difficult to change their mind. Putting ideas and original designs on to display cakes can help accomplish that. It allows them to see how a custom-designed cake can be one of the most memorable parts of their special event.”
Janet Brown: “Honestly, probably artists. Especially sculpture or are architecture. I see things and try to think how I can do that in sugar. Because building in cake and sculpture or buildings have the same physical need for support. I just do it on a smaller scale.”
Karen Portaleo: “It is so very hard to chose one favorite source of inspiration. I will say that I find most inspiration from older things, whether it’s very old books, or architecture from centuries past, old churches, illustrated manuscripts, beautifully carved wooden furniture ... Things that were made by hand before motors or power tools or computer programs existed. Sometimes I think I must have lived many lives in other centuries, I always feel more connected to things from long ago.”
What are you inspired by?