The Comeback Caker: Collaboration Station

Everyone loves seeing the collaborations, and the number ONE question I am always asked is, “How do I get in on this?”. Getting in on the action is JUST the beginning, there’s a whole host of information, deadlines, rules and regulations that must be followed to make a collaboration the big success everyone hopes it will be.

Don’t panic, I’m here to break it down for you…

Collaboration Station- by Amber Adamson of Top Tier Cakes

The big day arrives and all of these photos of cakes, and edible creations, start taking over the interwebs and cake forums.  Everyone has been sitting on this ginormous secret for months, and they can’t wait to share their ‘baby’ with the world.  These creations are sometimes worked on for months and months.

A commonality that all collaborations share, is that they are always hush-hush.  The reason being, is that if everyone and their brother knew about it, they’d want in, and then it would be a HUGE undertaking for the collaboration leader and appointed helpers.  How do I know?  Well, I’ve had the great pleasure of managing a few, and I’ve helped by admining others too.  I can assure you, they are a lot of work.

Here is my take on it.  A cake collaboration is where a person comes up with a theme and decides to invite guests to create artwork inspired by said theme. It serves as a great way to showcase your talent, when maybe a client would never have bought a cake of that caliber from you otherwise.

 

Sweetly Dipped Confections interprets the Sugar Myths and Fantasies theme

We like to Tease!

Collaborations are a fantastic way to forge friendships that you wouldn’t have made, if not for the collaboration.  It stretches your designer legs, in the way that you have to completely come up with something fresh for each theme.   It stays top secret until teaser day. Then everyone suddenly changes their Facebook banners to a ‘teaser’ and sometimes their profile photos too. The tease can be a couple of days to a week.  Sometimes they have a “soft reveal”; when working with magazines, sometimes the magazine will need to publish the collaboration before the group as a whole is able to share to the world.  In that case, they’ll do more than just a sneak peek.

After the initial teaser, the group will change over their Facebook headers to the group cover photo, and their profile photos.  These are usually made by the leader, or the appointed graphic designer, of the group.  You don’t have to have a special degree here, but background knowledge in computers and creating graphic art is very helpful.  

 

We couldn’t wait to turn over our profile pictures and tease the reveal!

Be An Active Member

For my last in the series of Sugar Myths and Fantasies, we held it as an open collaboration at first.  We let in anyone who wanted to create art, and it went really well.  You never know who’s going to do a piece, who’s going to drop out, who’s going to spill the beans and let our group info out to the open; you don’t know if it will be well received.  You just have a lot of unanswered questions, and that’s the fun part.  My biggest fear was that everyone would bail last minute.  People get so excited to be invited and to do a project and then let everything get in the way of completing said task.  This is why we start one year in advance, it gives you space to work on the project little by little and time to complete the project without interrupting your everyday life.  Working with foam can be really helpful, as it gives you more time to work on the finished piece.  Working with real cake is a great way to challenge yourself but cuts down your work-time significantly.  

The Sugar Myths and Fantasies Teaser was used to generate buzz ahead of the reveal.

Many Hands Make Light Work

I lined up three admins to help with all the details.  Florence Devouge was my co-pilot, we really did it together.  She and I managed all the collaborators; asking them to fill out their own info on an editable spreadsheet on Google Spreadsheets.  Anyone who couldn’t navigate it, we went ahead and filled that info in for them.  We needed names, business names, email address, URL, and inspiration, (no duplicates).  This would serve as a directory, so that the group could easily see who was doing what, and what still needed to be turned in.  We asked everyone to label all files being sent to us with their name.  So it shouldn’t say Sugar Myths and Fantasies, it should say Jane Doe Headshot.jpg., so that when we go to upload to our page, we can match people easily.  You’ll want to use programs like, Dropbox, Google Docs/Spreadsheets, and in our case Google Translator; everyone was from a different part of the world and spoke up to at least six different languages.  Dropbox is a place to hold shared photos, so that it doesn’t bog down your email when sending large files.  It’s also great because your admins will have access to them, like Nayda Hernandez and Adriana Rivera, who were our moral leaders, Facebook moderators, and editors.  They made sure all files were proofread, and that everyone was listed correctly. They answered questions and helped tag people when necessary.  It’s important to have help– The first time around you never know what you’re getting into, and then it becomes second nature.  It’s a lot of work, but well worth the end result.  

Sugar Myths and Fantasies Creation by Ana Remigio

Details Make the Difference

Your collaborators will need to send you a bio/blurb.  What that is, is a bit of info about them, their accomplishments, where they’re from, what their background in sugar art is; or basically what they want the world to know about them.  A blurb is the bit of info about their piece, why they chose it, what the piece’s history is about, how they created it.  This information gives the viewer a story, and that’s what we want.  A connection with the piece.  

They’ll also need to send you a head shot; and if you’re using a logo on their finished photo, you can include that as well.

Some folks like to do their collaborations with a template, and lots of graphic art.  I think that’s great, and that looks nice.  Personally, it’s not my style, and sometimes Facebook sees it as spam and will actually limit the reach of the collaboration as a whole.  You have to really watch buzz words too, because if you say repetitive things, or phrases Facebook puts the kibosh down.  

Sugar Siren by Chris Aranda

Organization Is Key

Your main goal when tackling a collab. is to just stay organized.  As soon as you get someone’s head shot, or bio, etc, put it in their personal folder in Dropbox and label it immediately.  That way no details get dropped.  Do things sooner than you think you’ll need to, because time flies. Especially if you have a full time job, or don’t have a lot of help in the admin department. Luckily, I had an amazing team and a great group to work with.

When working with your magazines, the MAIN thing that WILL keep a piece from being published is photo quality.  Bam.  Number one reason.  You should have 300 dpi resolution. This just means that when the photo that looks good on your computer screen or iphone or droid is enlarged, and it becomes blurry, your resolution is too low.  This is not an easy fix, you simply can’t change the photo quality by adjusting resolution in an editing program- this just makes the image smaller. If you don’t have a good camera, GET ONE.  A camera is an investment that will repay itself time and time again.  Learn how to use it – photography classes can be bought online via Craftsy for less than $30.  I’d also highly recommend you invest in a good prime lens.  I like my 50mm lens from Youngnuo. It’s cheaper than a Canon and works just as well.  

Photo quality matters- like this beautiful photography of Carla Puig’s piece

Tag and Brag

When you go live, tag businesses and products that you’ve used.  Don’t tag if you haven’t used the product, just because you want to be shared.  If you truly used a product like Sugar Shapers, tag Innovative Sugar Art.  If you used Satin Ice, tag them from your business page.  Share each other’s works of art.  It’ll behoove you in the long run.  You want to have interaction with your fanbase, and that will encourage it; by tagging each other and chatting under the posts.

I think that about covers it.  If you aren’t being invited into a collaboration, put the word out that you want to be invited.  Or start a collaboration.  But if you do decide to start one, make sure you don’t drop the ball on your collaborators.  No one wants to do work on a piece and then have the leader decide it’s too much of a job.  Know what you’re getting yourself into.  Be involved.  If the collab. is too quiet, it’ll tend to die.  Encourage discussion and interaction, lead your collab, and talk with your teamies.  Get them riled up, inspire them and encourage them.  Cheer each other on.  You’re a team.  You can do this.  Best of luck!  

 

Cheers!

Amber xo