Or do you just make what ever the customer wants? I'm curious because I'm building my portfolio right now - hoping to go into business in the next year or so, and all I'm doing are dummies of my own design with no outsider input. I'm wondering whether this will help or hurt me in the long run because I have definitely developed a "style".
Does anyone out there have problems compromising when a design request doesn't fit your personal aesthetic, or is a paycheck just a paycheck?
I definitely think you will need to open your "personal aesthetic" if you are going to go into business, The paycheck is YOUR customer and giving your customer what they want is what keeps the paychecks coming. IMO
Well...I'm super small time but you still have to have your own style.
Most people wont come up to you and say...I want a 2 tier cake, bottom tier blue, top tier white. I want flowers cascading down one side...etc etc etc.
Instead, you'll get this
"I'd like a birthday cake, in blue and white, with flowers"
So if you dont have your own style and vision...all your cakes will look the same
I don't sell cakes but when I do make them, I always give it my own twist.
I used to be willing to go with anything the customer wanted - bc transfer, royal icing runouts, modeling people, bc flowers, fondant - anything. Eventually I realized that when I did cakes that I wasn't comfortable with or which I didn't enjoy doing (e.g. modeling figures), I was too stressed out and happy. Also, my portfolio looked like a hodge podge of style. Jack of all trades, master of none. So recently I made a conscious decision to make cakes only in the styles that I'm really good and confident at and which I enjoy making. I've been much happier and less stressed out since.
I also stopped doing cartoon and character cakes (even though copyright is not an issue where we live - the land of pirated dvds and computer programs). I want to abide by ethical practices even though every bakery will gladly make a Disney or Mario or Spongebob cake with impunity.
I enjoy working in bc or fondant, making RI icing or chocolate transfers, whimsical fondant flowers or piped bc flowers. My style has been described as modern elegance. I'll make fondant or bc figures but not people (since I can't get the hang of that). I also don't make "replicas" but interpretations for example with purses. Potential customers can see my style from my portfolio. If its not what they're looking for they can go somewhere else.
I don't mean to sound snobby but I have the luxury of being picky. This is not a business for business for me but a way to indulge in my hobby and earn a little shoe-shopping money. So as not to stress myself out, I choose to be very selective with my clients and only accept clients by referrals and limited orders. I'm lucky to live in a countRy that allows homebaking.
Go ahead and create your own style. People will see that and like what they see, which will prompt them to contact you for their cake. As people request new and different designs, you'll be able to expand your horizons, your skills and your designs.
My City Skyline cake was 99% the bride's doing. She was an engineer and made me the template for the cake. But it's become one of my favorites and was one of the first cakes that really pushed me outside of my comfy cozy box!
There are things that I won't make...of course I am not running a business or I might do them...but if a friend shows me a picture and asks if I can make it, and I know it's something that I'm not going to want to even take a picture of, I will say no.