We had the good fortune of connecting with Tammy Varela and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tammy, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Art has always been my passion ever since I was a little kid. I’ve always been excited to learn and develop my skills in drawing, painting, and sculpting. So much so that I received a BA in Fine Art from GCSU in 2001 minoring in drawing/painting. After graduating I went to work for a Fortune 500 home improvement company working my way up the ladder to eventually become a manager. This was such an amazing a rewarding experience but I knew something was missing …… pursuing my creativity. After a lot of soul searching I decided to switch careers and become a visual merchandiser for Pike Nursery. This has allowed me to express my creativity at work and have time to learn a new hobby which turned out to be cake art. After taking a Wilton class and practicing what I learn on Pinterest and U-tube I started selling my cakes to family/friends which evolved rather quickly to a thriving business. The past 6 years have been such an amazing experience and I look forward to see what the future holds.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
By day I’m a hard working creative visual merchandiser. I create displays using pottery, plants, trellises, and other decorative items. Plus I merchandise various products to create a relaxing atmosphere for our customers. By night I’m a hard working creative cake/sugar artist with my home business Artistic Cake Designs. I continue to practice my skills by creating amazing crazy cakes for many customers plus competing in various cake competitions. Some of the most recent have been That Takes the Cake in Austin, TX and The Ultimate Sugar Show in Atlanta, GA. In TX, I took home 3rd place in the professionals Novelty Cake. Here in GA, I took home 1st in the professionals Sugar Art Display, 2nd in the FIPGC, and Best in Show. Becoming a member of the following groups have been a game changer for my cake career: FIPGC (International Federation of Pastry Gelato Chocolate), ICES (International Cake Exploration Society), and Icing Smiles (non-profit organization that provides custom celebration cakes to families impacted by the critical illness of a child). These groups all have a positive message to convey and only want to teach and grow each artist to become the best they can be. Recently I was honored to be named as one of three FIPGC finalists to compete to represent the USA in the 2021 World Cake Championship in Milan, Italy. I’m also a member of The Cake Collective which is an international collaboration where cake/sugar artists from around the world create amazing edible sculptures based on selected themes. Several of the creations have also become published in various cake magazines. I recently created a cute puppy face for the collaboration Pawferctly Dog-licious which was featured in The American Cake Decorating magazine. On occasion I’m asked to create tutorials for various magazines. The most recent tutorial published was in The Cake Masters magazine September 2020 issue. The theme was “textured boho” so I created a 3 tier cake with a organic/modern feel which I called “Modern Succulent Garden”. I absolutely love creating these tutorials so I can share my knowledge and passion with others. We all learn from each other!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would definitely take my best friend to one of the best Mexican food restaurants would be Los Rios in Cumming, GA. They’re very friendly, always packed, and won “Best in Forsyth” several years in a row. Plus they have the best margaritas in town! I’m a huge nature lover so I always choose places where you can get a little exercise and enjoy beautiful scenery. The Atlanta Botanical Gardens is an amazing place to visit. It literally will take you all day to see everything. Plus they have a great little restaurant for lunch. Hiking at Amacoloa Falls is always an amazing experience as well. The huge water falls are such a spectacular site to see in person.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Without a doubt I owe a lot of my success to my biggest supporter… my husband. He was actually the one who encouraged me to try cake art. We always enjoyed watching shows like Cake Wars. While watching I was like “That looks like fun. I wonder if I could do that?” And his response was always ”I know you can!”. He was also the one who got me involved in learning sugar/isomalt. I have to admit I was a little nervous working with hot sugar but it’s turned out to become one of my favorite edible mediums. I also want to give a big shout out to my parents for always encouraging me to peruse my creative artistic side. Plus I’m extremely lucky to have amazing friends who are always cheering me on as well as my co-workers and bosses who have always been so supportive. I’m truly blessed and very fortunate to have so many wonderful uplifting people in my life.
Headshot done by Michael Barker photography