I would like to get away from copying cakes. It's great to be inspired and create from there but I hate it when someone brings me a pic and wants that exact cake. Honestly, I am not a good copier and I resent it and question myself and it just leaves bad feelings all around.
How do you explain this to clients? Especially brides?
How does this policy affect your business?
Even when I try to give the whole speech about "creating something unique for you" they seem to come back with a photo.
From there I try to make suggestions or get an idea of what in the pic appeals to them but it kind of frustrates me.
I hope I am explaining myself well. I just feel to be successful at this I need to be able to do my thing (within reason) with a design and not be handcuffed to a picture.
Appreciate any input on this.
People are always going to bring you pictures, so I don't think that you can get away from that. I think that you're taking the right approach by asking what it is that they like about it, then going from there. You could also say that your policy is to not copy other people's cakes exactly, but that you will use the pictures as a jumping-off point. I tell people that since everyone has a different decorating style it won't be an exact copy even if they did want me to copy something exactly, so I can't promise that the cake will look like the original, and it's better to come up with something more original. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't!
What is really hard is when a child of a parent having a landmark wedding anniversary, brings you a photo of the cake their parent's had and they want you to duplicate it exactly! UGH! Most times those photos are so old, in black & white, and not crystal clear on the detail work it is impossible to be exact! You can even tell the client this and they don't seem to understand why!
Ditto on Costumezar...
I tell them we will do our best. I can even tell which decorator made the roses on a cake at my shop. Everyone has their own "style." Most of the time we can nail it on the head, but by saying, "We will do our best, but..." leaves a little wiggle room.
I think it would be really hard to have a business and have a policy of not ever copying other cakes, at least not until one develops their own signature style and becomes a famous celebrity decorator. I think most people are going to be more comfortable when starting with a picture, just to have a tangible image to go by, as most people are not able to visualize things we try to describe to them, even with a sketch.
But, at the same time, as many have said you really can't copy someone elses work exactly anyway. Everyone has a slightly different style and methods, plus cakes often need to be scaled up or down in size. So first off, I would tell them you can't copy exactly, but can do something similar. You're on the right track of trying to get them to pinpoint exactly what it is they like about it, and incorporate that into your own unique design. Although I have had a few brides have their hearts set on a specific picture they bring in, or they will see a cake in my portfolio they just love as is, and I will do it. But most of the time, even if they bring in a picture, they will look thru my books and see other things they like and end up picking elements from different cakes and putting them together in their own design, especially now with the trend of having a different design on each tier.
I know it's more artistically satifying to do something unique and be given free reign, at the same time, the customer is paying you to give them what they want. So just enjoy the opportunities you have to be more creative, and at least when you have a cake you've done before it usually goes faster so there's a little more profit in it. But I know what you mean about it being more stressful to copy someone else's design and worrying about it being close enough, but I've never had anyone complain. I do have one policy; as a professional courtesy I do not copy cakes from other decorators in my area, unless it is obvious that the design is not original to them.
Ditto everyone else.
I always tell customers "the designer who made this cake- made this cake to match the couple who ordered it according to the vision of their ceremony, lifestyle etc. .7 designers could do the same cake and it will come out 7 different ways. Our is not an art of imitation but of interpretation. I will come very close to this but it will be the cake I make for you (bride and groom) and not the one that he or she (designer) made for that couple."
That way you please the couple and yourself.
Yeah, I have a policy stated on my website in the Read This First link. I tell them I don't copy other people's work, but can use a picture for inspiration. Works for me.