The Sugar Masters of the World

Series: Season 1

“The Royal Icing Storyteller: Marta Torres”

Feature and Cover The Sugar Masters of the World Series Season 1

Marta has earned a distinguished reputation in the Cake and Sugar Industry as one of the few Sugar Masters who create edible art on a canvas of cookies for dimensional piping with coloured royal icing. With decades of pushing the boundaries of creating versatile designs with Royal Icing, Marta is a true Maestro in this fascinating world of Royal Icing Artistry. Each of her unique 3D Cookie Masterpieces are created with the purpose telling a distinctive story. She is world renowned for her distinctive style of edible art and her  innovative approach to royal icing has transformed her cookies into miniature 3D Masterpieces.

With each new edible creation she infuses emotion into her eclectic cookie designs, which range from classic to whimsical and even fantastical.

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Marta Torres is an award winning Sugar Artist from Portugal and is the creative force behind The Cookie Lab by Marta Torres and Marta Torres – Royal Icing Cookie Art. Her expertise lies in creating amazing cookie decorations using dimensional piping with royal icing.

Marta found her passion for cookies by accident around 2013. She came from the banking and consulting industries and knew nothing about royal icing or cookies, but through desire and passion she taught herself anyway. After six months of practice she entered a contest and won! This changed her life.

Marta is now an international teacher of her own dimensional piping techniques with coloured royal icing. She has spent the last 7 ½ years teaching in a very impressive 32 countries to over 2,000 students. She is currently teaching as well on on-line platforms such as Zoom Livestream for over 1.300 students.

She is also frequently asked to judge cookie competitions for prestigious competitions all over the world, including Cake International where she is now an Official Judge. She has been featured in many international magazines, either with her work and interviews, National TV interviews, and even had a Portuguese publication release a special edition of just her work.

– DMAs Finalist on Cookie Artist of the Year 2022
– Global Sugar Hero Finalist 2021 – ACADA (Australia)
– Artist of the Year 2020 – Worldwide Excellences Edible Art (Italy)

– Finalist 2020 Cake Hero Award – ACADA Australia
– Winner 2016 EAGA Awards on “Most Inspirational Royal Icing Artist” (Hong Kong)
– Finalist at the 2015 Cake Masters Magazine Awards (AKA Cookie Oscars)(UK)
– Finalist Peoples Choice Awards 2017 (USA)
– Triple Finalist in Collaboration Category for 4 years in a row
– Cookier of the year Finalist 2014 (USA)

Marta is also gearing up for the Grand finale of the prestigious D’Licious Magazine Awards 2024 where she is finalist along with the World’s best Sugar Artists competing for the titles. She is a finalist for  two Top Notch categories, The “Cookie Artist Of The Year” and The ” Sugar Auteur”.

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We are truly lucky and honoured to have the Royal Icing Storyteller, Marta Torres with us today for this interview. She shares with her some untold and exclusive stories about her journey into this fantastical world of Royal Icing. Read on to get a VIP access to her world and gain insights into the various aspects of Royal Icing Artistry and how she is able to transform each cookie into a visual and sensory experience.

Ancy:

You are acclaimed and beloved around the world as a Royal Icing Maestro specially for your dimensional piping with coloured Royal Icing. How do people address you for making such unique and memorable 3D cookie designs in your characteristic style?

Marta:

The “Royal Icing Storyteller” who gives feelings to her characters, is something I hear very often when I publish my work. Some people thank me for the smile and happy moments they get when they see my work.

I do know that my dimensional piping with coloured Royal Icing is what I’m known for, it’s what make students look for my classes. Every piece is created with purpose, following the rules and techniques I developed myself, and of course, lots of details for a unique piece. I want pieces to tell a story and people appreciate it.

Besides, I often hear people saying that they don’t need to look for my name on a Cookie piece because they know it’s mine.  Without looking for it, somehow, I have created my own style.

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Ancy:

What is your defining technique and what is your approach to tackle each design idea? Do you have a project which is the closest to you heart?

Marta:

Whenever I’m creating a piece, I put my heart and passion into it. My main medium for creating my cookies is Royal Icing, my signature Dimensional Piping style with coloured Royal Icing is what characterises me and I’m recognised for.  Be it a cute figure or a more serious one, anatomy, perspective, the expression on figures, all the little details are essential for the balance and harmony of that piece.  I do have several pieces that I like but, recently, my piece for a Collaboration about Poverty vs Abundance was highly published around the world.

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Ancy:

Which of your designs on Royal Icing cookies are most popular designs and how do you ensure that they stand apart from other artists?

Marta:

Although within my dimensional piping style I create different figures, I guess what people enjoy the most are my cookie “kids”.  I give them personality and expression accordingly to the Story I want to tell. I love putting a smile on my followers face, I even ask them to complement the story that my cookies conveys, and this is a way to interact with them, a way to make them part of the story.Marta Torres 18 Marta Torres 19

Ancy:

One look at your Social medial handles and one can immediately understand that you are probably the most awarded and beloved Master Artist in the industry, winning awards and recognition for close to a decade . Tell us about some of your most favourite and memorable accolades and awards.

Marta:

Being nominated for prizes, or even winning them, are no doubt a highlight in our career. In 2015, shortly after starting decorating cookies I was a finalist for a very well-recognised Award which surprised me since I was new on this field, and completely self-taught (still am), but it felt good of course. 2016 I won the “Most Inspirational Royal Icing Artist” Award. Although I have other prizes that came after, this is probably the one that impacted me much so far due to the incredible comments on my work received from one of the judges, other than Mr. Eddie Spence.

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Ancy:

Who was you inspiration and what are the qualities of Sugar Artist that you admire.

Marta:

When I started, I saw on Facebook a painted cookie by the one and only Calli Hopper and I remember saying to myself that I want to make pretty cookies like that. I ended up making cookies but not painted like Calli.

Usually, when looking for the sugar art works around, we tend to look for designs that are eye catching, but probably, due to my judging activity and experience throughout the years, together my sensibility, I tend to look for the execution, more than the design. I do prefer a simple work with a perfect finish, where all the details were taken care of. I do prefer simplicity, balance, harmony, together with a prefect finish.

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Ancy:

Post-Covid pandemic lockdown has brought about significant change in most industries. What changes did you notice in the Cake and Sugar industry?

Marta:

Covid came and, definitely, changed the way things were done, but not always for the worst. As for the Cake and Cookie designers, this challenging time gave an extra opportunity to be more creative, not just in the conception and execution areas, but also the way things were delivered to the final recipient, either a client or a student.

There was a tremendous adaptation to the times we faced and, we are now less conservative and more open to accept things differently.

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Ancy:

What important insights caught your eye in the Sugar world during this time?

Marta:

Sugar world evolves with time, I see a more open mind, where artists like to try new things, and techniques, getting out of the conventional way.  The slowdown of Covid time, gave the artists the opportunity to try and develop things further.  We see common edible mediums being used and handled differently, as part of their trial and practice, that look like a new product, for instance wafer paper. We see, as well, a tremendous intent in recreating realistic things, from nature, to human features. Generally speaking, sugar art became more alive.

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Ancy:

How did you adapt your business to the new demand of this exciting phase for cake decorating! How do you prepare yourself in this ever-evolving world which demands innovation constantly?

Marta:

Being myself a teacher who is used to travel all the time around the world to teach my art, Covid was an impediment to do so.  But, in truth, shortly after the first confinement, I received a request to teach private classes on Skype, and I said to myself,  why not? Then I jumped into Zoom Classes and started teaching Groups. It worked very well, I planned and chose projects that could fit into this new reality and platform.  For me it’s essential being able to provide an individual guidance to my students, checking constantly on their work, and it’s possible no matter the distance between us.  It has been an amazing opportunity for teaching students from all over the world, sometimes 5 Continents in the same class. I’m still teaching Zoom and loving it, but in person classes are also back.  Changes are happening all the time, we need to be quick on their response, being creative and open-minded gives you preparation to face whatever challenge you may have to face.

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Ancy:

Please share some habits that have helped you continue making innovative designs and meet the challenges of long hours of edible art?

Marta:

When creating a piece, I do like to try different ways of making it, most of the time I envision the result pretended and know that the traditional way will not get me there so, trial and practice makes wonders.  Challenging ourselves is the only way to grow.

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Ancy:

Are you noticing recurrent themes and mediums in the sugar industry.?Which ones will last?

Marta:

Although Royal icing is my main medium, I do like to incorporate here and then a bit of other products, I’m really enthusiastic with the endless possibilities of Wafer Paper and Rice Paper, and we see it often on Sugar Art. These are going to last as the ways of working on it are becoming more and more interesting and sophisticated.

As far as Cakes and cookies are concerned  we see more and more often the increase of busts/faces and its realistic features. It’s becoming a trend and people are trying out difficult techniques in the pursuit of perfection.

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Ancy:

How do you choose you tools and ingredients for your business ?

Marta:

As my work relies in less ingredients, products and tools then the majority of cake decorators. For me and I guess for them, we all look for reliable products and tools that deliver what they promise, good in quality  and performance, a product that can be trusted.

Ancy:

Tell us about your favourite tool?

Marta:

My work relies on Royal Icing and piping tips/nozzles are essential for my work, they must be the best quality available in the market, since it’s the only way to accomplish a good result. Without tips, I can’t work.

Ancy:

How do you recharged from the longs hours that Sugar and Cake work demands. How do you de-stress and how much recovery time would you ideally like?

Marta:

Fortunately, I’m a person that doesn’t need to much time off, actually, it makes me nervous being without my piping bags for too long. Sometimes I do force myself to stop, recharge and go back.  At the end of the day, a bath or shower followed by a chatting moment with my husband, where usually I bring out all the ideas I have and he listens to it, it’s the best way to calm down.

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Ancy:

Some healthy habits or cake decorator to take care of their health as all work such long hours?

Marta:

I do start my day very early (5 am), which I prefer rather than staying up too late, unless the circumstances require differently, for instance when teaching abroad.  Exercise is essential prior to start my working day, it can be a walk/run or lifting weights at the gym, but my physical and mental health needs this. I get lots of energy, an open mind and, I feel more inspired, and my day runs smoother.  Even 30 minutes a day makes all the difference, grab your shoes and move. The benefits are endless.

Ancy:

With so many years into this artistic journey what according you are some habits that Cake/Sugar Artist must avoid at any cost?

Marta:

-Focusing on too much at a time

-Delay on creating System and processes

-Over-promising

-Not taking risks

-Failing to delegate

-Lack of being proactive

-Never taking time off

Ancy:

What would your advice be to new Cake?Sugar  decorators who are just starting out?

Marta:

When starting in this business, the lack of preparation can make us feel a bit lost.  Keep always in mind what’s your goal and, if necessary, ask for help, don’t panic. In order to improve your skills, you have so many incredible instructors out there, choose wisely, and learn as much as you can, and then practice more and more.

Challenge yourself, be part of competitions, being out of our comfort zone is the way to grow.

Don’t compare yourself to others, you are unique.

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Ancy:

Give us a sneak peak into your own goals for 2023 and what is your vision for your business

Marta:

Due to some personal matters, 2023 came a bit different than expected, nevertheless, I’m teaching, which I love, and I’m using my time as well to challenge myself on new techniques with royal icing and a couple of different mediums. I’m also developing a few tutorials for magazines and on-line learning platforms. Basically, I’m busy preparing my future next steps, based on Personal growth goals and Professional development goals.

Ancy:

Your work is admired around the world , share some advice for our readers and existing business owners

Marta:

Put all your love and passion on whatever you do, make sure that not only your business is ready for launch, but you are as well.

Keep focus on your business, be aware of new trends and get prepared for them, but above all, see what works for you, what makes you stand out from others and work to deliver the best.

Be the unique person you are and don’t compare yourself to others. This is a quote that have been with me for so many years now, and being myself really stubborn and focused on accomplishing things. Never give up on something that you can’t go out a day without thinking about (Winston Churchill)

Thanks to all for being with us on this journey with Marta Torres: The Royal Icing Storyteller

Marta’s  flair for highlighting the visual appearance of each her Magical 3D Cookies with her unique, intricate style of storytelling with her cookies makes her stand head and shoulders above many Sugar Artists of the world.

It almost seems like “homage” to each of her characters and their narratives.  This unique creative ability to captivate ones imagination, makes her a trailblazer in in the Cake and Sugar industry. Each one of her innovative designs can be hailed as a  “Magnum Opus” .

Interview by Ancy James

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