When You're Asked to Make Character Cookies or Difficult Cookies: 3 Solutions
How to turn down requests for character cookies, and three solutions to offer instead.
One of the most common requests a baker will get is for character cookies, cookies that are decorated with the faces of famous princesses, cartoon characters, or (scariest of all) illustrations of actual people.
There are two major considerations here:
1. The legality. We are not giving out legal advice in this article, but most bakers know that recreating copyrighted characters for profit is against the law.
2. They're HARD! In addition to the sheer amount of icing colors it takes, if that Ice Queen's eyes are off by a millimeter, she can end up looking like a blonde who had one too many drinks at the hotel bar.
There is hope both for you and your customer. Instead of a flat "no," we suggest one of these solutions to help keep your buyer - and your business - happy.
Solution 1: Offer to match the theme
Tell the customer that you are able to match the color, patterns, and style of the party theme without creating any character faces or logos.
Many parties centered around a character/show/movie theme will have decorations matching that theme, so your cookies laid out on a Hot Wheels themed party table will look right in-step.
Solution 2: Pick items, not characters, from the show or movie
While a certain red-headed mermaid movie is obviously copyrighted, common items like clam shells, forks (*cough* dinglehoppers), and tridents are not. Make these items different enough so they reference back to the originals without being copies.
Solution 3: Line art and silhouettes
This solution is for items that may not be copyrighted but are difficult to replicate. Please be aware that many silhouettes of popular character are still copyrighted.
When a customer asks for tough shapes or art, such as horses or a favorite muscle car, try using a silhouette or a loose line art style.
If your drawing skills aren't strong, we suggest using a small projector to replicate your reference photo on your cookie while you outline it.
Pictured above: Horses are one of the hardest subjects for any artist, but a silhouette is an easy way to conquer it. The background was airbrushed with The Cookie Countess Airbrush System.
Next time you get a request for a cookie set that is outside your comfort zone, try one of these solutions. If you present one of these ideas positively to your customer, they should be understanding and excited that you are willing to work with their requests.
At the end of the day, you should feel comfortable with both the job and the client. Remember that if you are asked to make cookies that are too complicated, a simple "no" can be the right answer as well.
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