If Tim Burton (think Sleepy Hollow, Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Planet of the Apes) were to be a woman, he would be Christine McConnell.
The 32-year-old Los Angeles-based photographer, stylist, and baker has carved a niche for herself in the world of gothic desserts. Be it the Alien Waffle Cones or Party With The Wolves confectionaries, she’s had the folks by their sweet tooth and more. She has a huge fan following.
She’s somehow found a way to combine her love for baking, 50’s era chic and a sense of humour to make amazing photographs that have fans clamouring.
Christine began baking when she was a teenager. But really got super creative with it in the last couple of years. She’s a self-taught baker. “I learnt it by watching YouTube videos,” she says. “It’s amazing how much you can improve in a short period if you try.”
She first baked sugar cookies. Nothing too exciting, “but it was fun. Photography came later.
Her fascination for aesthetics — “and also Tim Burton” — inspires her creations. Her photographic works have appeared in magazines, billboards and national advertising campaigns in the US.
Growing up in Southern California, Christine’s always been artistic and “for the most part introverted”. She grew up with her two brothers, and many pets in a 150-year-old house that needed a lot of renovation. She spent most of her childhood “playing with cats, shading old floors and painting.”
She explains: “Growing up in an old house and my mother’s love of the past combined rubbed off and sort of created the aesthetic I’ve become known for. I like Gothic things, and it seemed like fun, creative thing to do.”
Christine’s been doing various forms of art for years and found photography an amazing way to share and document what she was doing — whether it was painting, baking cookies or a room that she had re-decorated. She’d like to call herself a visual artist who is “moved and inspired by the way things appear and can be manipulated. I believe you have the power to make your world whatever you want it to be, and I like mine to be beautiful with a hint of creepiness,” says Christine about her creations.
Sometimes she sketches an idea beforehand and sometimes she just starts and sees where her creativity takes her. There’s no rhyme or reason, and she says her kitchen is usually a disaster when she’s done.
Her favourite sugary creation, she says, is the “face hugger from Alien. It was difficult one. Her most challenging production had to be when she baked a replica of her parents’ house. It is incredibly detailed and took her about a week to complete it.
In all her photographs, almost everything in the frame is usually baked, frosted, stitched, styled, created, conceptualised, arranged and photographed by Christine. And the models (yes, sometimes there are more than one in a picture) are all Christine too. “I use a timer on the camera,” reveals this one-woman creative army.
Execution of her ideas is always time-consuming. Most of them are a result of her passion and not commission. “I have a new idea almost every other minute, and I hope I never lose the energy to keep learning and trying new stuff,” she says. There’s no danger of that happening since she is having so much fun doing what she’s doing. After all, isn’t creativity intelligence having fun?