(Photos via Shannon Murphy)
Undoubtedly, My Chemical Romance are sweet onstage, but cake artist Shannon Murphy took her love of music and turned it into Mikey Way-approved cakes and cookies.
Based in Toronto, Murphy is an accomplished confectionary creator who even appeared on season 1 of Food Network Canada’s The Big Bake for the 2019 holiday season and tackled her biggest cakes to date.
Read more: See why the ‘Yo Gabba Gabba!’ host says MCR were one of the best guests
However, her heart lies with her edible fan art. Inspired by Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge and The Black Parade (and stoked at the prospect of seeing My Chem live), Murphy created heavily detailed treats, including a Gerard Way cake, the iconic black jacket, an album cover, a concert ticket and more.
She’s also created cakes inspired by Harry Potter and The Nightmare Before Christmas and plans to make even more sweets featuring alternative artists and characters. Check out how she rose to the top of the cake game and perfected her emo designs in our exclusive interview below.
How long have you been baking and decorating? When did you realize desserts could be an avenue for fan art?
I started baking in high school but found my love for cake design in 2014 when I enrolled in an advanced cake design program. Making cakes was something that came naturally to me. (It) was the perfect way for me to share my art with friends and family. After working in multiple bakeries, I was losing my passion for cake decorating and looking for new ways to get inspired. I’ve always been passionate about music and music culture. (I) found that creating cakes and cookies influenced by my favorite musicians was a great way to merge my love of music and pastry art.
Last year, I made a cake for one of my favorite bands: Winnetka Bowling League. They were really impressed and excited by the detail of the cake. Since then, I have not only become their sweets supplier when they are in and around Toronto but have also shipped them cookies for their birthday celebrations while in quarantine in 2020. Their love and support has been extremely encouraging. (It) has pushed me to create works of edible art for other musicians I admire.
How has your art connected you with the music community? Which bands have inspired your most ambitious cakes?
Growing up, I was always looking forward to the next concert, which was usually the following week. Vans Warped Tour was the highlight every year. As I grew older, I began missing out on concerts because of work and other commitments. Creating cakes for special artists has become an avenue for me to meet some of my idols while also giving me the ability to attend events I would have otherwise missed out on. The idea started a couple of years ago when I made an Instagram story about the band Aqua. I was listening to their song “Candyman” while, of course, making candy. To my surprise, their social media manager reached out to me and asked if I’d create a cake to surprise the band with after their show in Toronto. I couldn’t say yes fast enough. After that moment, I realized how my love for baking and music could create something special—and other musicians may be interested.
How do you begin your intricate cake/confectionery decorating process? Where do most of your inspirations originate from? What’s the most challenging part and most fun part about bringing these pop culture-themed treats to life?
The cake/confectionery decorating process always starts with a sketch. I may not always stick to every detail I’ve drawn on paper, but creating a sketch allows me to create a general design of what my crazy ideas will look like when I bring them to life. I draw inspiration from everything and anything. It could be an outfit someone wore on the red carpet, an album cover, room decor or even lyrics.
The most challenging part about bringing my creations to life is finding the time to make them. Making just one of my portrait cookies can take between 14-18 hours to decorate. That being said, I absolutely love making them. Layering icing, with hand-painted details and seeing a simple cookie turn into a work of art, is so rewarding and magical.
The most fun part of making anything is always seeing other people’s reactions. I made a set of My Chemical Romance cookies for my niece’s birthday. Seeing her reaction made every minute spent creating them worth it. As a bonus, Mikey Way saw the cookies on my Instagram page and gave them a like. To have his verification and support was the icing on the cookie.
You shared how you’ve made treats inspired by My Chemical Romance, Aqua and even Game Of Thrones. What’s the most intricate cake you’ve made thus far in the name of fan art? How long did the process take? Which other bands or characters do you hope to make into decorated cake art in the future?
I am a huge Harry Potter fan, so I have made many cakes inspired by the Wizarding World. The most intricate Harry Potter cake was a three-tier birthday cake for a lovely 11-year-old. Everything on the cake was edible and made by hand, including a golden snitch, a hand-painted Hogwarts crest and even a Hogwarts letter that you could actually open. Overall, the cake took approximately 24-30 hours to make.
Every day I’m thinking about new ideas for cakes inspired by my favorite artists. Most recently, I’ve been brainstorming ideas for artists such as Fall Out Boy, Alexisonfire, Good Charlotte, Green Day, Elton John, Harry Styles and Eminem.
Describe your time on Food Network’s The Big Bake. Which techniques and experiences will you carry on and showcase in future projects and pieces?
Going on national television was already daunting, but also being asked to make the largest cake I’ve ever created was terrifying. It was challenging because of the time frame it normally takes to create something so intricate. In this case, we only had four hours, which is significantly quicker than how we normally work. I’m extremely detail-orientated when making my cakes. The short time frame made it difficult to develop my idea with the amount of intricacy that I’d hoped for. Needless to say, being 4 foot 10 inches creating a 5-foot tall cake also had its problems. It was definitely a learning experience, and I learned a lot about working with a tight deadline.
I normally work independently, but being on the show, I was joined by two additional bakers (who) I am fortunate enough to have as friends. Collaborating and working together was a different dynamic, which taught me a lot about teamwork during intense pressure. Working together during this challenge brought the three of us closer together than we had ever been before. We are all pop-punk-loving, cake-making Harry Potter nerds, so you can imagine how close we had already been before.
What reactions have you received from bands and music fans? How do you hope to expand your brand in the future?
I am so fortunate that social media has allowed me to share my work and art with others. It’s been very rewarding to hear people’s positive feedback. Creating something and not only getting the approval from other fans, but to get the approval from the musicians themselves, has been a dream come true. Within the last year, I have expanded from only making custom cakes to also making custom cookies. Cookies can be easily shipped anywhere across North America, so my dream is to become the go-to person for anyone who needs confections inspired by their favorite bands.
Keep up to date with Shannon Murphy’s pop culture creations via her website, Facebook and Instagram.