"If you want to be original, be ready to be copied" - Coco Chanel
I saw this quote by Coco Channel on Pinterest recently and it reminded me of the above quote by Oscar Wilde and how, in the cake decorating world, our customers often present us with a photo of a cake they have seen and ask us to make the exact same cake.
Now, I am not saying that anyone who copies a cake is a mediocre cake decorator. Far from it! You still need the knowledge and skills to be able to pull it off. However it does open up issues that maybe you haven't thought about before.
It's quite a sticky subject really as I have seen many arguments in Facebook forums where someone's design has been copied and the original cake designer has been upset, and then there are those who really don't mind if someone copies their design. I think I fall into the second category as I don't believe it will ever be one hundred percent possible in this digital age to prevent someone copying your design so why bother yourself about it? Personally, I feel quite flattered when someone likes my cakes enough to want to copy them.
As with all my blogs, please remember that this is just my opinion and experience. I am not saying I am right…only that I am explaining my thoughts on the subject.
If you design a cake and publish it anywhere on the internet, there is a possibility that your work will be copied. I think that if you put your cakes into the public domain you should expect to be copied. If you don’t want anyone making cakes like yours then keep your pictures in a photo album and make your customers come to you to view your work. Do we know who designed the first hamburger cake? Will we ever know who that was? How many times have people made variations of that cake? Some subjects, especially food, seem to be done everywhere all the time. Before Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest, this wasn’t as large an issue. It was harder to go to hundreds of webpages to view photo galleries and see who had made cakes similar to yours. These days you just need to type something into Google and lots of images will pop up. If you know the name of the original cake designer it is nice to give them a credit for the inspiration but all too often we don't know who that was.
In my Terms & Conditions and FAQs I state that if a customer supplies a photo as inspiration, we welcome this and will adapt the cake wherever possible to suit them so that it is not a straight copy. Most of the time this is acceptable to the customer and it adds a little of themselves or their personality into the cake.
If, on the other hand, other cake decorators take my photos, pass them off as their own and act like they made those cakes then that is a whole other issue. I believe that is stealing. They stole those photos.
At the end of the day, I believe that imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery but don't be fake. Don't pretend to do cakes you didn’t do. Wherever possible, try not to make an exact copy of someone else's work but put your own spin on it. Follow the Golden Rule and do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Join the conversation and leave me a comment below.
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