"I think it is in collaboration that the nature of art is revealed."
- Steve Lacey, American saxophonist (1934-2004)
I have wanted to do a collaboration challenge for a long time. As a musician, and trial lawyer, and now cookier, I truly believe that collaboration brings out the best of each of our individual talents. Judging by the entries we had for this challenge, I think my beliefs are confirmed. Not only did we have some amazing and inspiring entries, but we also heard a lot of amazing stories of all the cookie connections and friendships made along the way. There were stories of people combining their cookie strengths, and facing their cookie kryptonite. There were cookiers who hesitantly asked others to be their collaboration buddies, and ended up being personal friends. I call those "cookie connections" of the first order.
Challenge #18 was one that I could not pass up myself. And who better for me to collaborate with than the original host of these Practice Bakes Perfect challenges, The Cookie Architect, aka @RebeccArchitect?! You can see the result of our collaboration here and here. What I learned through our collaboration was: 1) collaborating with another person takes time; 2) long-distance collaboration can be tricky; and 3) technology can alleviate some of the problems of points (1) and (2) but also amplify them. But most of all, I got a peek into another artist's brain and learned to expand my creative horizons. When I was working with Rebecca, I looked at color palettes and inspiration photos in a different way. I challenged myself to do my best work, because, well, one does not bring her "B" game when collaborating with The Cookie Architect! I think my experiences in this challenge were not unique to me, but were encountered by most of the other challenge entrants.
Now, before I get to spotlighting the incredible artists who gave their all in this challenge, I'd like to talk about our amazing prize and our lucky (randomly drawn) winner! The prize for Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #18 has been very generously donated by Cookie Connection founder, Julia M. Usher, herself! It's a potpourri of some pretty cool cookie-related stuff, valued at over $200! [EDITOR'S NOTE: It also includes some non-cookie things acquired, but never used, in recent travels or from online friends, including luscious Codeland chocolate from Argentina, chocolate-covered dried mango from the Philippines, and a Kona French press coffee maker - because we always need a little energy boost during those late cookie nights, right?! ]
In addition to all of the loot pictured here, there are more cutters, dragées, flower nails, AND, a Cookie Connection apron inside that Cookie Connection tote bag!
Drumroll, please . . . And the winner of this amazing prize is . . . @Kim Damon. Kim not only had THREE separate entries for Challenge #18, but she has been a loyal participant in so many of our Practice Bakes Perfect challenges. Challenge after challenge, I have appreciated all of the energy and enthusiasm that Kim brings. With that, Kim, I hope you will enjoy all of your new cookies "toys." We can't wait to see what you create!
And now, without further ado, I present to you, in no particular order, the spotlighted artists from our Practice Bakes Perfect collaboration challenge.
For this collaboration, Kim and Laura brainstormed with each other via email, and settled on the theme. Kim drew a rough sketch of their idea, made her set of cookies (the moon and stars), and then mailed her set of cookies (a distance of 4,700 kilometers!) to The Anxious Baker, who then completed her set of cookies (the sun and rays). I was amazed by how well this cookie puzzle literally fit together, despite the fact that it was created by artists separated by such a great physical distance. I also like how well the two artists' styles blended. Finally, I just think this whole concept of the moon and sun "completing" each other was inspired.
Walking into Autumn by Manu and Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.
This "memory game" from Manu and Ryoko, the artists who actually inspired Challenge #18, is genius. I love the concept, and the execution and presentation are delightful! But, such a fabulous collaboration like this does not come together overnight. As Ryoko explained, over 120 messages were exchanged between her and Manu, over the course of a month as the project came to fruition. The artists, who are in Italy and Japan, brainstormed about the concept, and then drew a series of sketches, three each, so they would have a set of six matching cards. Each cookier then discussed and exchanged decorating techniques, so that the cards would match as closely as possible. Because of the massive physical distance between these artists, the entire set of 12 cookies was never in the same place, so Manu and Ryoko took individual pictures of the cookies and created the memory game-inspired collage you see above. Manu and Ryoko do a fabulous job explaining their own process, and have included lots of additional pictures of their sketches and cookies, so please do check out their original challenge posts (Ryoko's here and Manu's here). Perhaps, however, the very best part of this collaboration is the real, personal "cookie connection" made by Manu and Ryoko. As Manu said, "But most of all, [a] nice friendship, born during a past challenge, keeps growing."
Kim Damon does it again with this (her second spotlighted) entry, this time in collaboration with The Cookie Architect! It so happens that Kim and Rebecca live in the same town (a block apart, in fact), and so these two artists were able to literally sit down in Rebecca's kitchen one evening and make a set of cookies together! (I am soooo jelly.) Rebecca and Kim started their design process on Pinterest, going back and forth with images, until they settled on the theme of umbrellas and rain/clouds as things that went together and fit the "you complete me" theme of the challenge. Rebecca then cut, baked, and flooded the cookies in advance of their cookie decorating session. They decided to paint and color the cookies together because piping designs would take longer to do. Working with their pinned inspiration pictures as color and design guides, the two artists then just did their thing. As Rebecca explained, "We just each grabbed a cookie and started decorating. I saw where she was going on hers, and adjusted some of my colors to match. We just did that from cookie to cookie until we had the whole set done." And the result is stunning. I think that because Kim and Rebecca created their cookies simultaneously, their styles blend so well. In fact, without their individual challenge posts (see Rebecca's here and Kim's here), I would have had no idea who made which cookies!
NaGeRa and doctorcookies are another pair of artists separated by great distance (1,000 miles with NaGeRa in Spain and doctorcookies in Poland) who were brought together by a common language and their love of cookies! It was NaGeRa's idea to do a collaboration using, by permission, some original art by Elina Ellis. NaGeRa contacted doctorcookies through Cookie Connection and proposed the idea: "We chose four illustrations and made the decision to share the job. Both of us would make four cookies: two featuring a background and two with a fairy on [them]. Later we would merge [them] digitally. doctorcookies made the books fairy and the milk fairy to insert on the backgrounds by NaGeRa. And NaGeRa made the flowers fairy and the apples fairy, again on doctorcookies’ backgrounds. So we ended up with four illustrations using eight cookies." Not only are the cookies of this collaboration beautifully executed, but I am amazed at how well they were merged through the use of some magic photo editing. You MUST see the individual sets of cookies by each artist (NaGeRa's here and doctorcookies here) to fully appreciate how they were so seamlessly merged together!
This is a SECOND challenge entry from Ryoko, and yet another wonderful long-distance cookie connection (Japan-Bulgaria). In this case, I love that Ryoko was inspired by the previous work of her co-collaborator: "My idea came from what I learned about Zara of @carouselselsel who has two children and likes colorful things. I went all through her photos of cakes and cookies that she had made and tried to understand her more. I reached the conclusion [that] the cookie set should be heartwarming, colorful, and [something] children would like." In this collaboration, I really like how the two artists used completely different mediums (fondant for carouselselsel, and royal icing for Ryoko), and still managed to create a consistency of colors across the final collaboration. I also really like how these cookie tiles could be arranged and re-arranged in all sorts of slightly different ways. You can read all about the delightful fable that inspired this set, and see additional drawings and pictures here and here.
This is the THIRD spotlighted challenge entry from Kim Damon! In this collaboration, Kim and Iliana used Pinterest (I am sensing a pattern here among cookie artists!) to pick out photos of things that were a perfect match, like bacon and eggs, and peanut butter and jelly. First, Iliana picked the pairs that she wanted to do, and then Kim created their mates. I love how each cookie artist decorated in her own style, but tied the cookies all together with the picnic blanket background and an agreed-upon cookie size. Then through the magic of photo editing, the pairs of cookies were merged and displayed side by side. All the while, new cookie friendships were made. As Kim said, "It was really such fun to work with someone of a different language from a different country and collaborate!"
Big THANKS to everyone who participated in this challenge, and to everyone who has cheered them on through your "likes" and constructive comments. These challenges would not exist without all of YOU.
Before I close out our collaboration challenge, I have a couple of things I'd like to address. First, I noted with interest the fact that, while this challenge seemed to generate a lot of enthusiasm and interest when I first posted it, not very many people actually entered the challenge. If you were one of those people who initially wanted to participate but did not, I would love to know why. You can make a comment here in the comments to this blog post, or you can send me a personal message through Cookie Connection private messaging. I am constantly trying to create and refine challenges that people will be interested in, while also presenting opportunities for artistic growth, and your feedback is invaluable to me in that process.
Second, we had the unfortunate task of deleting an entry to this challenge (as has happened from time to time in other challenges) because it did not comply with one of the Cookie Connection site posting rules regarding the use of the original, copyrighted work of another artist. These are the rules that we are all supposed to read and comply with when posting any and all content on Cookie Connection. The relevant rule states:
8. Always give proper credit for your work where credit is due, and don't post copies of others' work without first getting permission. If you have copied someone else's work in any medium (illustration, photo, painting, character or cartoon, another cookie, etc.) in any way (tracing or freehand drawing or painting), or have drawn on it heavily as source inspiration, you should not be posting your version of it to this site unless you have secured necessary permissions to copy it first (which, in some cases, can involve paying a licensing fee to the artist). Copying others' work may very well be a copyright infringement, which is why we have this rule - it is to ensure that you do not get into legal trouble. It is also the right thing to do. Think about how you would feel if someone copied your work without asking or crediting.
If you have secured necessary permissions, you should credit the original artist ("with permission from creator . . .") in both your caption (photo subtitle) and tags, and provide a link to the source art in the first comment under your photo. Please note: Disney characters and many other cartoon characters are copyrighted, so what I said above applies to them as well - you shouldn't be copying them and posting them here without permission from Disney or the creator to do so!
If you have only drawn inspiration from someone else (i.e., borrowed a technique or a minor design feature), but the design is largely your own, then it is sufficient to say "inspired by . . ." But please do not use the words "inspired by" if your cookie is a close facsimile of any other person's artwork, of any kind. Please review this forum, which includes comments from several lawyers about the legalities of copying others' work. The general consensus is: When in doubt about how you are using someone else's work, it is ALWAYS best to get permission from that person first.
Of course, if you are copying an image that is officially in the public domain and not copyrighted, then you are in the clear. To learn more about finding images for use in the public domain, check out this article.
Thank you for your cooperation going forward. It pains me to delete entries to the challenge, so please be sure to comply with not only the specific rules of each individual challenge, but also all of the Cookie Connection posting guidelines as well. While some of these rules may seem onerous, they are the law; they are rules that exist on most other art and social media sites; and they are all just meant to protect the art of the people who create it, which benefits every one of us.
I hope you all will join us for our next challenge, which will post on or about October 10, 2016. Stay tuned for a good one!
Christine Donnelly began her professional baking career at 16, when she was hired on the spot at her local bakery to work the counter and decorate cakes. After detours to college and law school, she worked as a trial lawyer in Chicago for many years, ultimately leaving that career to become a stay-at-home mother to her two children. In her “retirement,” she continued to bake at home, at last finding her preferred artistic medium in decorated cookies. In February 2013, Bakerloo Station was born with a presence on both Facebook and Instagram. Christine makes cookies to balance her left brain, to inspire and share creative ideas, and to feed those needs that only art can satisfy.
Photo credit: Christine Donnelly
Note: Practice Bakes Perfect is a bimonthly Cookie Connection blog feature written by Christine Donnelly that poses inspiration or challenges to get you to stretch as a cookie artist - for practice, for prizes, and for fun! Its content expresses the views of the author and not necessarily those of this site, its owners, its administrators, or its employees. Catch up on all of Christine's past Cookie Connection posts here.