Have you ever seen something that looked so good you wanted to eat it? Luckily there are quite a few crafty fan foodies out there. These fan artists create things you can eat, even if their creations look so cool you'd rather just keep them on display! Some of the most delectable of these creations are coming from the talented Marj Santaromana.
Santaromana creates beautiful, edible fan art in the form of baked goods such as cakes and cookies. It all started around eight years ago when she came across cake decorating shows and competitions on TV. Santaromana was impressed with people making huge, beautifully decorated cakes that still managed to be edible despite the elaborate art and decided from there to try and make a living out of doing just that. She went to pastry school while also practicing at home.
“I realized it’s something I’m good at and I think it’s a very niche thing. A lot of people do sculptures, but not everyone does edible sculptures,” Santaromana told SYFY WIRE.
While the edible part of fan art was new to Santaromana, she's been an artist since she was a kid, creating sculptures and paintings based on her favorite fandoms. Since childhood she's been interested in Pokémon and wrestling, the two major interests she still focuses much of her art around today, as well as other fandoms, including Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon. Some of her first attempts at edible fan art came from working at home, including birthday cakes for her younger cousins with Hello Kitty and other themes. She did it for fun whenever an occasion came up and soon word spread about her work.
Now she’s the head cake decorator for a bakery in Brooklyn, New York, where most of her fandom work is more focused due to her schedule. When she handles a request, she starts with a budget, how many people need to be fed, and what the focus or theme of the cake is.
“I’ll just pretty much design the entire thing. People will send me pictures, but I like to come up with original ideas,” Santaromana explains. “I don’t like to completely copy someone else’s design that they’ve already done so I’ll sketch somebody a completely original cake if they request one.”
It then takes Santaromana an entire day to go through the step-by-step process of creating her edible fan art. For a cake, she has to bake it, stack it, and then frost everything and make sure the outside is perfectly sharp and smooth, which Santaromana says “is a separate thing in itself.” Then, if people want any 3D objects sculpted, that takes the longest to do and ends up being the most expensive element.
If during this process something doesn’t work right, Santaromana will often throw out the entire cake and start from scratch. She admits she's very critical of herself and it’s hard to throw something out, but says it’s better in the long run than trying to fix it.
“I’ve definitely started a cake and it looks nothing like I anticipated and I’ve definitely thrown it out the window and started from scratch which is hard but it saves more time and frustration doing that,” she says.
Some of her favorite creations are the more realistic ones like purses and shoes, or eve cars with working lights in them. One cake she made on her own time for a friend was shaped like his arcade cabinet and also included a working aspect.
“He actually owns a cabinet that he built himself and I just recreated it as a surprise for him. He ended up making a working screen for the cake for me so the cake has a little screen that flashed 8-bit video game images on it, which is really cool,” she says.
Santaromana loves it when anyone requests a Pokémon cake and enjoys sharing different ideas with them. She also loves making the fun wrestling gingerbread men that she makes a lot for her friends with a standard gingerbread shape before dressing them up as specific wrestlers.
While edible fan art is a large part of Santaromana expressing her fandoms, she has other outlets, as well. She's been cosplaying for more than a decade, which all began when she made her own costumes for Halloween. Santaromana said she’s improved since her first Comic-Con in 2009. Now, she goes in costume every year.
Seeing pins as a trend, Santaromana also decided to create an Etsy shop as a side project featuring pin designs. It’s a way for her to combine her love for graphic design, which she does for fun, with original design work that no one else in the pin world is doing.
“You think you’ve come up with an original idea and Google it and it’s already been done a lot of the time so it is a challenge to come up with something new but also something that you think will do well,” she says. “I like to do that as a side hobby and also a good source of side income since I don’t have time to do much else.”
If you want to see Santaromana's pins, you can find her on Etsy and at an upcoming pin show in Queens, New York, Pin Pop NYC. To keep up with Santaromana’s edible fan art and other work, you can check out her Instagram.
Get to know Marj a bit better below: