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Interview with Calli Hopper, Callicious Cakes – Cake Masters Magazine Cake Artist of the Year 2015

Known for her attention to detail and her artistic flair, Calli is a talented cake artist but also a supportive friend in the cake community. With previous careers in Graphic Design and Facilities Management before falling into cake decorating, Calli has flourished in this field. Having won the Cake Masters Magazine Cake Artist of the Year 2015 Award, we are delighted to have interviewed her for the January 2016 issue.

Calli has had a really interesting life so far, with her career as a cake decorator coming as a bit of a surprise. She was born in London, but has lived in Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa, before returning to the UK in 2000. In the interview she shares with us her artistic history in music and textiles, as well as her love of photography which she often uses as her source for cake inspiration.

The article is a brilliant read as Calli tells us all about her cake journey. She starts with her first paid cake order: For my very first cake order, I was asked to do a spring themed, royal iced, two tier fruit cake. It was my very first attempt at marzipan and royal icing, and the sugar posy on top consisted of bluebells, lily-of-the-valley and eucalyptus leaves. I remember clearly how proud I was, but then also how nervous I was prior delivery with doubts and fears we all know so well, that she might not like it. I recall floating on air as I left after the delivery, as she loved it so much. I even got an email to say that the President of Farmers Weekly said it tasted amazing! Bonus! There was a downside to this though, as I was left waiting for three months before I got paid, so I learnt a hard lesson there.”

Later, she shares her three top tips for our readers:

  1. “Take the leap! Challenge yourself as this is how you grow and travel on a wonderful path of self-discovery, leaving you with a great sense of creative achievement. If at first you do not succeed, do not get despondent and feel like an underachiever, get back to that table and try again, practice really is the key here.
  2. Take good photos of your work. Remember that cake is going to get cut, so your photos are all that live on. I learnt this the hard way in my early days of cake decorating, as I have a couple of cakes that I don’t have great quality pictures of. It’s so important to factor in time to take good quality, high resolution photos. Invest in a good camera, there are many affordable ones around now. Watermark your images too, so people know who you are. Sometimes, photos can become anonymous out there in the media if not watermarked.
  3. Never stop learning. One of the things I love is taking time away from my cake table, sitting in front of another expert’s table and developing more skills. I have learnt invaluable lessons from books and workshops and I will continue to do so for as long as I can. I have heard this expression “self-taught” and yes, there are some that really have never opened a book or attended a class, but they are far and few between. I feel it’s important to honour the ones who have added to your skill sets, so don’t forget these amazing people who helped you along the way.”

Finally, we found out about her reaction to winning the Cake Masters Magazine Cake Artist of the Year 2015 Award: “So much went through my head in those few moments, from shocked disbelief to pure unadulterated emotion that just cannot be put into words.” Cake Artist of the Year is such an all encompassing award. It’s for a cake decorator that does more than just one style of cakes, so Calli was the perfect choice for this year – the first year we’ve given the Award.

Read more about Calli, her fabulous cakes and her achievements in the January 2016 issue of Cake Masters Magazine.

We’d also love to hear your suggestions for the 2016 Cake Artist of the Year Award, we are looking for cake artists who are well rounded and have either a diverse range of skills in Cake Decorating OR maybe is just the master of specialising in one particular field so please email Rosie at editor@cakemasters.co.uk if you can think of someone worthy of this prestigious award.