Search Online: If you want an easy start, look online. There are many people out there just like me who are showcasing their cake desings in blogs and in online photo galleries. When I wanted to make kitty cat cupcakes, I had a basic idea of what I wanted to do, but I wasn't sure how to go about creating them. So I searched Google for images of "cat cupcakes" and "kitty cupcakes" and any variation of "cat" and "cupcake". I found a lot of ideas from people who had previously made cat cupcakes. I also found images of cats that were simple enough to be made into a stencil/template for my chocolate "kitties" that topped some of the cupcakes.
Books/Magazines: Look in cake decorating books and in magazines. I know Family Fun Magazine has several issues a year with cake ideas. I have also gotten ideas from other decorators and modified their cake designs to fit my own need and my own degree of experience (see Baby Dragon Cake). Debbie Brown makes wonderful sugarpaste creations. I also recently purchased Wilton's Cupcake Fun book which has over 150 ideas for cupcakes and other treats.
Cartoons/Comics: Get your inspiration from familiar characters. I use my children's picture books and DVD covers (see Monster's, Inc cupcakes) for ideas. The model for the Jack Skellington cupcakes came from a poster. Hmmm...Charlie Brown's head would fit perfectly on a cupcake! I'll have to work on that one next...
Check out the world around you: Many times I see a design and think, "Why didn't I think of that?" The answer...because it was so simple. Don't overthink it. At this moment, my daughter is shoving a lollipop in my face trying to get my attention and saying, "Mommy, I'm eating a heart lollipop." There is an idea. A lollipop. A heart lollipop. A kid with a heart lollipop. A princess with a heart shaped wand...
If you let your imagination go with the flow, the ideas present themselves. Just remember to have fun with it.
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