“Where do you get your ideas?!” – One of the most frequently asked questions at class. Sometimes inspiration really does come in a flash and a design pops into mind, but quite often it takes a bit more work.
Sometimes it can be really hard to get inspired and it can feel intimidating to be staring at a blank canvas (or cake!), so here are my steps to help you come up with ideas for a new cake design.
So how do you get from the blank piece of paper to a finished cake design?
Step 1. Step away from the cake.
Ok, so maybe not from the cake that you’re working on (or eating) right now, but from the cakes on Pinterest, Facebook etc. It’s so tempting to search for inspiration in other cake makers work, but who wants to be making the same as everyone else? You want your cake creation to show your own personality and style. There are so many images of amazing cakes out there, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of cakes that appear on a daily basis. Turn off the technology and take a break from looking at cakes!
If you need a starting point for inspiration, instead of immediately turning to Pinterest and searching for “Blue Cakes”, try searching for “Blue Geometric pattern” instead. A whole load of different ideas will show up, ok so some won’t be relevant, but something may just jump out at you and scream cake, or a great shade of blue will stand out and inspire a different design. It’s best to think of Pinterest as a gathering of ideas rather than a ready made cake design shop window.
Step 2 – Take some photos
Real life has some great prints, textures and colour combinations. See one that catches your eye, grab a picture! Doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a quick snap on your phone will be enough to jog your memory and get those creative ideas flowing.
My phone has so many pictures of random objects on that I’m sure most people wouldn’t immediately associate with cake, but just little bits of them can inspire a whole design. You can’t control when inspiration strikes, so it’s a good idea to capture the idea first and sort out the fine details when you have time later on.
Step 3. Doodle.
It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw! Grab a piece of paper and a pencil (or pen) and let your mind wander. Don’t worry too much about getting specific details that match, just doodle. Whatever comes to mind. It might be a pattern, or some words of things that you want to include in your design or a full blown cake – the important bit here is to give yourself time to get ideas on paper.
If you have a theme already, make a mind map of ideas then start thinking of how you can include these ideas in an edible form. Starting with the colour, then things that remind you of the colour then think about the techniques you could use to create that idea.
Sometimes an idea will strike you at the most inconvenient time, (quite often as I’m drifting off to sleep!). For this reason I have a pen and paper on my bedside table and have been known to wake up and start doodling. Now, I’m not necessarily recommending that midnight is the best time to be jotting down those ideas, but sometimes getting pen to paper as soon as you have the idea is the only way to hold on to them. Make sure you have pen and paper ready for those doodle moments!
Step 4. Create
Sometimes, the best way to work out a design is to start it. The number of times I’ve been having a real mental cake block and decided to cover a dummy then low and behold the ideas start coming. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Never used that tool before? Dig it out the drawer and see what you can make. Set aside some time to just play! It doesn’t need to end up on a cake, you can throw it away (or eat it) if it doesn’t work. Sugar is a great medium to work with and can be moulded and shaped in so many ways. It is so tactile, so get hands on and see what comes. Remember, ideas aren’t set in stone, one inspiring idea can develop into something more refined than it’s beginnings and create something beautiful.
So grab your smartphone and get happy with the camera, photograph everything that inspires you and then have a doodle, you might surprise yourself with the designs you can create!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on where you find inspiration, let me know in the comments below 🙂