Amanda Faber- Cake Artist
Art that tastes as good as it looks...
Search Amanda Faber on Instagram and you will discover an inspiring profile of unique creations. Colorfully decorated cakes with influences from paintings by Matisse and screen prints from Andy Warhol. This woman is a baker like no other. Carving out her own path by further expanding the imaginative limits of cake design. The Grant Park resident competed in and won The Great American Baking Show Season 2. She has since been marveling fans with fanciful designs for each of her cakes. Amanda takes exceptional care to concoct playful styling, ingenious color, and frosting applications. Ultimately most important, you will find images of cakes that make you say, "damn, I'm hungry!"
The Atlanta cake artist has had an eventful year after the airing of The Great American Baking Show. We sat down with Amanda to discuss art, family, and how in the world this mother of two has time for cake.
RIGBY INK- You won the American Baking show, but what were you doing leading up to entering your name into the competition?
AF- Before the show I was in "mother of two small kids" mode. I was using whatever free time I had to be creative and practice my baking skills. The opportunity for the show came during an intense time of caring for a toddler and breasting my infant son. When it came time to audition for the show, my body was occupied providing for my children. I had literally just weened Jack before driving to Nashville to make the auditions.
The whole show was a first step for me as a mother. My first time away, the first time to think about my desires in uninterrupted periods of time. It was a special to me because as a young adult I had tried so hard to figure out what was important to me and how to be myself. Then when I became a mother, I felt as though having kids kind of disrupted that...almost stole it from me. The show was my process of getting it back.
RIGBY INK- What has been the most exciting thing to happen since the show and what has been challenging?
AF- Sometimes what will get the most attention is when you are on tv again or have a public appearance. The things that excite me are discoveries about myself. Post show it wasn't the realization that I did something big, it was the realization that I could do something big. The most exciting thing has been feeling like I have potential. Feeling who knows what can happen. I don’t come alive from being on tv.
At the conclusion of the show everyone wanted to know my plans. With that support came a lot of pressure. It took me some time to figure out and understand when people were asking, “are you starting your own show” or “are you writing your own cook book” that those questions weren’t meant to overwhelm me. It was people being supportive, which is extremely kind and special. Initially anytime someone asked me those questions I thought, “oh god maybe I should be!" Instantly I would be flooded with stress. Baking is the easy part. It’s the emotions that are the hard stuff.
RIGBY INK- What does your typical day look like?
AF- On weekdays my days start at 6am. Although I'd prefer to sleep later, my son Jack is up and ready to go. We start the day by having breakfast together and at 7am my daughter Gemma wakes up and we all get ready to walk her to school. A few days a week we have speech therapy at home with Jack. While my daughter is in school I spend most of that time baking for cake orders. Since school is still something new for my daughter, I try to spend time with her once she gets home and not have her feel like she is in the way. Any additional baking I wrap up before dinner. Our family likes to spend the evening together playing in the yard. I try to do 30 minutes of daily yard work and after dinner is the time I can do that. By 7pm the kids are getting ready for bed and after 8:30pm I'm back to writing recipes or blog posts until about 11pm.
RIGBY INK- What do you do for fun....when you're not baking?
AF- My favorite thing to do is go to coffee shops. Typically I’m working there, but that is fun for me. I love having my own space where no one is bothering me. It’s quiet and the atmosphere is nice. So even though I'm working, I still feel like its fun for me because it’s not working in a chaotic environment...or late at night. It’s very pleasant and during day light hours…also no one is shouting at me.
Also exercise is really important to me. I try to go on a walk or run because I can put my ear buds in and listen to music that I can’t listen to when my kids are around. Then of course the High Museum is my recharge. If I really feel like I’ve lost my way or I feel like I need to refocus, I will go there and its a healing experience. I know that sounds dramatic, but its the most peaceful place in my life.
RIGBY INK- How has baking become the medium for your art?
AF- This is a topic that I get super emotional about. When I was a little girl all I ever dreamt about was becoming an artist. I drew all day long and growing up the people that I admired were my art teachers. I never knew what I wanted to do for a living. In college I studied Studio Art for a few years, but it didn't feel right. I enjoyed the creative process and learning, but I would paint, it didn't feel right, I would draw, it didn’t feel right, I would try to take pictures, and that didn't feel right. It just wasn’t fulfilling the way that I wanted it to be so I stopped because I really loved working.
When I started baking I enjoyed it, but I didn’t connect it in a creative way. This is where I get so emotional…when I was on the show a couple of times the judges said that my bakes were artistic. It is funny because those weren't triumphant bakes for me, but I was floating hearing their feedback. Thats when it connected for me that maybe I had I found the medium that I had been searching for all along. Then after the show I began baking with the perspective that this is a place for me to be creative, express myself, and a place for me to put all of the inspirations that I have in my life. It felt like I was becoming the person the little girl in me always wanted.
RIGBY INK- At what point did you realize you wanted to start a business?
AF- I have wanted to have a business for a long time. The idea of creating something, being successful, and making money has always been inside of me. Growing up my dad had his own business and to me that just seemed like what people did. So in my mind having my own business has always seemed like a very natural step. I've always thought I would own a coffee shop and I do still think that some day I will.
During the airing of the show when people would ask if they could buy cakes from me I became excited and thought that as stay at home mom this could be a way that I can have a business and still be there for my kids while they are young. I baked one cake and sold it New Year's Eve and the next day January 1st 2017 I applied for my business license.
RIGBY INK- What held you back years ago from starting your own business when many would assume you had more time without kids?
AF- Now my time is more pulled, but as a person I’m more confident and not as scared. I’m naturally a perfectionist. There have been numerous things in my life that I thought would be really cool, but thought "I don’t know how well I’ll do that" so I just wouldn’t. The show was a tremendous time of growth for me. Having time away from my family on the show, getting feedback, and not seeing that as failure, but an opportunity changed my perspective on being willing to try. Before I wouldn't have gotten a business license even if maybe I used to I have more time, I didn’t want do it because I'd think "what if I didn't get any orders?" Whereas now I think what the hell I’ll try it and if doesn’t work out thats ok. I’m going to be okay with that. It will not be a success if I don’t even try. For some reason that makes sense to me now.
"I always felt bad for pop stars that have a really big hit and 20 years later have to continue singing that same song. I would go crazy. To make something that gets destroyed is great for a perfectionist..."
RIGBY INK- How is balancing a business, family, friends, creativity, and personal time? It seems like a lot of work.
AF- Basically I never have enough time. I just put a meditation app on my phone so maybe that will help me feel a little less stressed. I’m also a high energy person and I don't like to relax. I don’t enjoy spending time on the couch, or watching movies. I like fast, fast, and to keep moving. I feel like my life is very packed full of stuff, but I want it to be that way. Thats the life I want and I’m happy with that. When I’m feeling irritable or anxious, I try to think about which part of my life is not getting attention and I make it a priority to make time for that. I may feel stressed and I realize it’s because I haven’t made the time to be creative. Other times because I haven’t connected with my kids the way I want. I’m learning that when the stress comes to go through my check list and see what are the important things for me and ask am I making time for them to happen.
RIGBY INK- What have been road blocks for you?
AF- Finding the time. There are times I feel angry I don’t have enough time. I will have an idea for a cake or recipe I want to test and I know I have too many commitments and having to wait. That is the most frustrating for me.
RIGBY INK- What has grown your confidence?
AF- My confidence has grown, but the most significant change has been becoming willing to fail. In my heart I always knew I could do well at things…I’m still screwing up left and right, I’m not trying to sit here and say now that I’m a master. I think I always knew I could do those things, but was too afraid to screw up. Now I just allow myself to screw up.
RIGBY INK- What are the challenges of staying authentic in a business of serving others and not negotiate what you are willing to compromise?
AF- I have worked hard in my art form to get to this place today. Some companies business model is to just say yes to their customers. From the start I was very comfortable telling people I was not going to be the right fit if it was a request not in line with something I think I can execute in a way I’m proud of. I’m not a one fit baker for all, maybe I’m not that right baker for you..thats okay. The sweet spot for me is finding a balance between artistic elements of the heavily designed cakes, but also the elements of your grandmothers cake that when you look at it , you'd feel hungry.
RIGBY INK- In a lot of art forms I think it is hard to give up your work despite knowing its making you a lot of money and watch it go away with someone else. In your particular case, your art isn't going to exist in 48 hours. How do you feel about giving up something that you’ve put so much energy into?
AF- I love that part. I always felt bad for pop stars that have a really big hit and 20 years later have to continue singing that same song. I would go crazy! To make something that gets destroyed is great for a perfectionist. I don't have the time to stare at it for a long time and then fixate its flaws. I get to make something that I think is really good, send it on its way, and move on to the next thing. I just think thats the nature of life, you can't spend your time trying to hold onto things, that doesn’t work.
RIGBY INK- What advice would you give someone still searching to find their creative niche?
AF- I would say that if you’re creative and you’re looking for your way to be creative… just try everything. Don't be afraid to try. If there is a class on screen printing, go do it. If there is a photography class, go do it. One thing I know is that for me, because being creative feeds me so much, even if its not a big meal, any little snack will do. If I didn't know what I loved the most, I would still feel happy to go paint or go doodle. I think it’s important to keep being creative and be aware of your reaction to it. I realized no matter how successful I would have been in my previous jobs, it wouldn't matter to me. More money is nice, more respect is nice, but it wasn't what drove me. It was never going to be that. I think if you’re creative, think about the things that you do that make you feel the most proud.
RIGBY INK- What will business and life look like 5 years from now?
AF- I will have at least one book published and I will be in business in some form . Possibly a coffee shop that supports the art community. Of course I’m part of a family unit, so my life will depend on whats best for us as a family, but there will be a book, my kids will be 9 and 7, there may still be a cake business, and hopefully our dog Charlie.
RIGBY INK- Words of advice to other creatives?
AF- Try to push yourself to say yes, unless you have a good reason to say no.
Words Rigby Wrights
Images Amanda Faber, Figure and Ground ATL, and Dasha Crawford Photo