How to Become a Professional Face Painter and Get Paid

How to Become a Professional Face Painter and Get Paid
Olga Murasev, Kelli Zermeño — 02 May 2018 —

The face and body art industry is a vibrant, colorful world! But did you know that you can actually make a real living out of it? In this guide you will learn how to transition face painting into a career and become a specialist in this industry.

Here you will discover how to select the best products from the multitudes of options on the market. You will learn the most essential face painting techniques that will help elevate your work and make you a faster, more efficient artist. You will also learn how to get your face painting business off the ground, how to get more bookings and earn more money with your art.

In this Professional Guide you will learn how to become a face painter with these advanced techniques of face painting, plus much more:

  • How to upgrade your basic kit, or build a professional kit from scratch that will set you apart.
  • A more in-depth look into paints, brushes, sponges and other tools.
  • Tutorials for double-dip and one-stroke techniques that will elevate your designs.
  • Design tutorials to teach you about focal points, so that your designs look pleasing to the eye.
  • Design ideas for the professional face painter.
  • Business practices and recommendations for you to employ on the job.

If you feel you need to go back to the basics, please visit our Ultimate Face Painting Guide for Beginners to get you started. You will learn information such as:

  • How to build your basic face painter’s kit.
  • All about your tools, materials and general information to get you started.
  • Hygiene practices to keep you and your clients safe.
  • Basic painting techniques that will propel your art to the next level.
  • Design ideas for the beginner artist.
  • Basic tips to help you while you are on the job.

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~ Quick Navigation Content Guide ~

1. THE INDUSTRY: BECOMING A FACE PAINTER
Face Painting Kit for Professionals
What is the Best Face Paint Brand?
Where to Buy Face Paint?
What is the best white and black brand?
Types of Face Paints
Brushes
Sponges

2. ADVANCED FACE PAINTING TECHNIQUES
Double dip and triple dip technique
One stroke technique
How to use a split-cake for sponge
Design Placement and Focal Points

3. EDUCATION AND PRACTICE
How to be a Face Painter
Two main ingredients for success

4. ADVANCED FACE PAINT DESIGN IDEAS
Main categories and most popular face painting designs
Themed designs for specific occasions and parties

5. FACE PAINTING JOBS GUIDE
Personal hygiene, working with people, cleaning & carrying of materials
Important preparations
Carrying case
Additional essentials
What can you paint?
How many kids can you paint per hour?
How much to charge?
You are your money
Frantic or fun?
How to Stay Booked… and Paid!
A note on volunteering
Insurance
Business license
Self promotion and advertising
How to earn more money

Olga Murasev artwork face painting

The Industry: Becoming a Face Painter

The face and body art industry is undergoing a complete renaissance and is very quickly evolving, just as any art form does. Brilliant new techniques and design ideas are being developed daily by the top professionals in our industry. In addition, the sheer number of paints and products coming onto the market can seem overwhelming for those not already in the industry. So what do YOU need to know?

While you want your artwork to look professional, safety is the number one priority in our business. Inferior paints and products not only ruin the look of your designs but can actually be dangerous on skin. Instances, where volunteers have been seen using acrylic paint on skin, can cause allergic reactions like rashes and welts, chemical burns and more. A fully stocked professional kit takes most artists a year or more to build. But, with this guide to help you navigate, we will have you on your way to looking like a true professional, even in the beginning stages.

Face Painting Kit for Professionals

Your professional kit will transform as you develop your style. The paints and tools you use will vary greatly depending on the techniques you employ most. Some artists paint mostly with brushes, some use only one stroke, and yet others prefer sponges and only use a few round brushes for outlining. Some blend a lot and as such, have a large selection of filbert brushes, while others prefer to sponge their background with split-cakes and collect a large selection of them.

Here is an outline of the tools that I have in my kit. I like to combine a variety of techniques, thus my kit contains a vast selection of tool options.

Start with the basics and gradually supplement your kit with new products as you earn income and learn new things.

  • waxy white for linework (one pot of 30 or 45 gr) — any of the brands PartyXplosion, Wolfe FX, Diamond FX, Kryvaline, Cameleon, Face Paints Australia (FPA)
  • waxy black for linework (one pot of 30 or 45 gr) — any of the brands PartyXplosion, Wolfe FX, Diamond FX, Kryvaline, Cameleon, Face Paints Australia (FPA)
  • an assortment of singular face paints — 25-30 colors
    • regular (base)
    • metallic (pearl)
    • neon (UV)
  • an assortment of large split-cakes for sponge — 4-6 combinations
  • an assortment of split-cakes for one stroke — 8-10 combinations
  • two sets of round brushes sizes #1 – #6 — any of the brands Loew Cornell 795 series, Paint Pal swirl series, Alyiah round and ultra round, Bolt brushes, Mark Reid Signature brushes, Art Factory
    • one set to be used with white only
    • one set for other colors
  • #3 and a #4 round brushes for black
  • a set of three angled brushes sizes ½, ⅝, ¾ — any of the brands FacepaintStuff, Loew Cornell, Facepaintshop Short Angular, Paint Pal by Cameron Garrett, The Face Painting Shop Short Angled, American Painter 4400, Superstar Angled by Ksenia,
  • a set of three flat brushes sizes ½, ¾, 1 inch — ny of the brands TAG, Paradise Prisma, Loew Cornell, Aliyah, Paint Pal, The Face Painting Shop, Art Factory Studio Flat
  • a set of filbert brushes size ½ (10 mm), 1 inch — any of the brands TAG, Loew Cornell, Paint Pal, Bolt, Cameleon, Prisma
  • a set of two blending brushes — Cameleon
  • sponges — half-circle and petal sponges
  • water rinsing receptacle
  • fine mist spray bottle
  • assortment of glitter — fine, coarse, chunky, glitter gel, chunky glitter with gel
  • stencils
  • wet wipes
  • case or bag to store and carry the setup
  • optional extras such as a professional chair, tent, table and more…

We go into great detail about each of the following points the preceding Beginner’s Guide. The following information is written assuming you already have that basic knowledge. If you feel you need additional information, please check out that guide as well!

Let’s jump right in, shall we? The following is an explanation of additional tips and tricks for the professional artist in the use of paints, brushes and sponges.

What is the best face paint brand?

Once again, this is a quick recap of general information.

For a more in-depth guide on these basic points, please see our Beginner’s Guide.

Professional face paints are water activated glycerine or wax-based and have been tested for safety, which means that they follow CSPA, FDA, EU and Australian Standards guidelines.

Best face paint brands at the moment include: TAG, Wolfe FX, Diamond FX, PartyXplosion, Cameleon, Kryolan, Global Colours, Face Paints Australia, Mehron Paradise, Superstar, Kryvaline.

Some brands like Global and Kryolan also produce liquid face paints. If that’s the only option available on the market for you, you may try working with them. Although, I find these paints more difficult to work with and the results aren’t as good as with dry cake face paints.

Where to Buy Face Paint

Professional quality face and body paints are rarely found at a craft or discount store. You may find some products on eBay or Amazon, but usually, the price will be higher and/or the quality lower. You also trim a risk of unknowingly purchasing counterfeit face paints this way. Most face painting supplies can be purchased online. We recommend to check out these shops:

Professional quality face and body paints are rarely found at a craft or discount store. You may find some products on eBay or Amazon, but usually, the price will be higher and/or the quality lower. You also run the risk of unknowingly purchasing counterfeit face paints this way. Most face painting supplies can be purchased online. We recommend to check out these shops:

Australia
Face Paint Shop Australia www.facepaintshopaustralia.com
Funtopia www.funtopia.com.au
Face Paint Supplies Perth www.facepaintsuppliesperth.com.au
Face Paints Online www.facepaintsonline.com.au

Canada
Hokey Pokey Shop www.hokeypokeyshop.ca
The Magic Mirror www.themagicmirror.ca
Pigment M www.pigmentm.com
Face Painting Supplies www.facepaintingsupplies.ca

Netherlands
FacePaintStuff www.facepaintstuff.com
SchminkenGrime www.schminkengrime.nl
Face Paint Shop www.facepaintshop.eu
Crea Rose www.crearose.nl

United Kingdom
Face Paints Direct www.facepaintsdirect.co.uk
The Face Painting Shop www.thefacepaintingshop.com
Face Paint Supplies www.facepaintsupplies.co.uk
Yorkshire Face Paints www.yorkshirefacepaints.co.uk

United States
JestPaint www.jestpaint.com
SillyFarm www.sillyfarm.com
Paintertainment www.paintertainment.com
FacePaint www.facepaint.com

Tip: Read our article “The Great Face Paint Shop Guide” for an in-depth guide on trusted shops and sites all over the world to purchase your professional equipment.

What is the best white and black brand?

You will use a lot of white and black for linework, thus you need a good creamy, elastic paint with high opacity.

Best brands of white and black face paint for linework are: Wolfe FX, Diamond FX, PartyXplosion, Kryvaline, Face Paints Australia (FPA).

Make sure that you have enough spare black and white (especially!) as those colors tend to be used up quite quickly! Invest in a couple of 30-32 gr or even in 45-90 gr pots for white. If you find yourself outlining with black a lot, then you may need the same amount for black as well. Keep at least one spare in your kit at all times.

Types of Face Paints: what works best for various applications

Wax based paints

Regular waxy paints are usually dryer, but they are quite elastic and can be dragged long distances without leaving any streaks, thus they work the best for linework. They give a thick coverage, are durable wearing and do not smudge if the painted skin is touched. But, due to dry texture, they are more difficult to blend. Metallic (pearl) wax-based paints are softer and can work great both for linework, for sponging and for blending.

Glycerin based paints

Glycerin based paints are softer. They are less elastic, having a more creamy texture. Due to this quality, they work the best for blending. If you touch them in the pot they will leave the pigment on your fingers. Due to this softer texture, these paints can be easily applied to the skin and blended in between colors, but they are not as resistant for durable wearing as waxy paints and are easier to smudge if touched.

Staining: One more significant difference between waxy and glycerin based paints is the likelihood of staining. Waxy paints, especially regular solid colors, tend to stain more than glycerin based paints.

Neon (UV) paints

Neon paints, also known as UV paint, have an ingredient that reflects UV light. This gives them the appearance of glowing in the dark (note, a special “black light” is needed to activate their luminosity.)

Their texture is dryer and they require more water to achieve activation. This is one of the reasons why neon paints frequently look pale and uneven when applied with a brush. A better uniform coverage with vibrant color can be achieved when applied with a sponge.

Split-Cakes

Split-cakes are cakes of paint that contain more than one color, enabling you to load multiple colors onto one brush or sponge and lay down multiple colors with “one-stroke” technique. Split-cakes are produced in large containers for both sponge and brush work and small narrow containers for brush work.

One-stroke technique can drastically speed up your work and help you achieve impressive results instantly. And you don’t necessarily need to buy split-cakes! You can make your own from the singular colors! Many artists do that as well as are repotting their paints and creating mini-kits.

Brushes

The type of brush can make a big difference to the end result and it is much easier to produce nice work with a set of professional high-quality brushes, rather than cheap craft brushes.

If you take care of your high-quality brushes properly (use it, wash it, store and sanitize in the right way), they will last many years. Cheaper brushes are more likely deteriorate very fast and will require replacement. Professional brushes, with proper cleaning and storage, will last for many years!

Face painting brushes can be divided into five groups:

  • round brushes
  • flat brushes
  • angled brushes
  • filbert and chisel brushes
  • special brushes, like blending brushes, double filbert, flora brush, fan brush

If you don’t have a paint station that includes a department for storing brushes, the best way to store and display them are brush cases or brush wallets, especially the ones that have inserts and keep the bristles of each brush untouched.

Round brushes

Round brushes are mainly used for linework (teardrops, swirls, curls, tiger lines, reversed teardrops, dots, outline) and also for building up shapes.

I’ve tested dozens of different round brushes and I found out these ones give the best results: Loew Cornell 795 series, Paint Pal swirl series, Aliyah round and ultra round, Bolt brushes, Mark Reid Signature brushes.

For double dip technique, you require a thick round brush or a flora brush.

Tip: Check out our blog post “Tools for perfect Double Dip flowers” and learn more about the best brands of brushes for this technique.

Angled and flat brushes

Angled and flat brushes are used mainly for one stroke. There are several brands that produce high quality flat and angled brushes. Face painters mainly use these types of brushes for the one stroke technique.

My own favorites are the angled brushes from FacepaintStuff, which come in 1/2, 5/8 and 3/4 sizes.

Other great option for angled brushes are: Paint Pal by Cameron Garrett, and angled brushes by Facepaintshop.

Good options for flat brushes are: Loew Cornell, Mehron, and TAG.

Filbert, chisel and blending brushes

Filbert and chisel brushes are used for covering large areas of skin with paint, building up shapes like bunny ears, filling in a kitty cat muzzle, covering the eyelids with paint and also for blending.

High-quality filbert and chisel brushes are produced by Loew Cornell, Cameleon, TAG, Mehron (including Mark Reid series), Paint Pal, Bolt Firm Small Blender.

A blending brush is a special type of brush, that is produced by Cameleon in two sizes — #1 and #2.

Some artists got used to using fluffy makeup brushes as an alternative, but their quality can vary a lot, so if you decide to use one, you’ll probably have to make your own research on the best one you can find in local shops.

Sponges

Face painting sponges are important tools of the trade, just as brushes are. Artists will generally prefer one type of sponge over another, depending on their personal style of work. So when choosing your own sponges, there are a few attributes to consider, including the properties of a sponge, that is density, porosity, shape, and size. Of course, I have my own favorites, as you will see from the explanations given below.

For safe face painting make sure to use one sponge per one child. For this reason, you will need plenty of them, even at the very beginning of your career. The best options are half-circle sponges which can be found in a multitude of different brands.

I love the yellow sponges produced by Wolfe FX, Diamond FX, Mehron, and Cameleon. They are medium density sponges, can hold lots of paint at once being absorbed into large pores and can cover large areas of skin with only one load of paint. They are also great for creating texture, creating dimension by applying highlights and shade and building up shapes.

Additionally, if you can get a package of petal-sponges, they will help you create beautiful butterflies.

Tip: Check out our article How to Choose the Best Sponge for even more tips💛

JestPaint has a great size comparative image for sponges of different brands that may help you make your choice easier.

Advanced Face Painting Techniques

Learning proper techniques to use while you are painting will go a long way in helping you to create professional quality looks in a fraction of the time. The following techniques are for advanced artists.

 

(NOTE: Do you feel like your sloppy linework is ruining your face painting designs? 😱 Don’t worry! We’ve got you! 😎 Linework is the KEY SKILL that must be mastered to obtain flawless results in face painting.
👉 Take our FREE “Improve Your Linework in 3 Days” workshop!
We guarantee that completing this workshop and implementing the proven and tested methods within will boost your linework to a whole new level! Get started now.

Free Online Workshop - Improve Your Linework in 3 Days

Double dip and triple dip technique

Double dip is a face and body painting technique where the artist creates petals with a brush loaded with one base color and then adds another color to the brush tip.

This technique always creates a WOW effect when your customers see you using it, especially when you make a beautiful cluster of flowers, fast! Luckily, this technique is relatively simple to achieve once you know the secrets.

Follow these steps to achieve stunning results with your double dip:

  • Start by loading your brush heavily with creamy white paint.
  • Clean the tip on the container edge or a dry towel. You should get a nice sharp tip now.
  • Dip the tip of your brush into the creamy second color.
  • Hold your brush strictly perpendicularly to the skin.
  • Press on the brush and lay one-half or maximum three-quarters of the bristles on the skin.
  • Vary the pressure on your brush for different sizes of petals; thus flowers can be created.

Check out how I am creating double dip flowers in this Flower Fairy tutorial:

One stroke technique

How to properly load your brush with a split-cake for one-stroke:

  1. Spritz your split-cake with water — 1-2 mists is enough. Be very accurate with how much water you use! Usually, one to two spritzes is enough to moisten the paint surface, which has to become glossy, but there should be no extra water.
  2. Dip your brush in water and slide it over the edge of the water bowl to squeeze extra water out of it.
  3. Place your brush across the paint stripes and then slide it on the entire surface of the split cake moving it back and forth.
  4. The brush should easily glide on the surface. If you feel resistance, it means that you need to add a touch more water.
  5. If you find your colors are running and looking muddy, you have used too much water. Not to worry! Simply tilt your split cake with the lighter colors running off the corner of the darkest corner, so as not to contaminate your light color. The excess paint should empty out. If your colors still look muddy, you may go over your cake a few times with a clean, damp brush; or you can go over your cake with a few swipes of a wet wipe.

To see the one stroke technique in action, check out this fantastic video-tutorial:

How to use a split-cake for sponge

  1. Give your split-cake a couple spritzes of water from the spray bottle.
    The surface will become moist, which means that the paint is activated. Some paints, especially the new ones require more water to activate. Spritz your new split-cake once, then leave it to activate for a minute, then spritz it once again to avoid paint leaking and mixing.
  2. Moisten the sponge by spritzing it with water and then roll it in between your hands to spread the moisture.
    Attention: nothing should drip out of the sponge when you squeeze it!
  3. Lay your sponge across the colors on one end of the split-cake and then drag it back and forward over the surface.
    Your sponge should glide on the paint. If you feel resistance, it means you don’t have enough water in your paint. Go ahead and spritz it once again.
    After you’ve loaded your sponge, the surface of your cake should remain dry. Otherwise, if you can still see activated paint or water on its surface, it means that you have excess water both in the paint and on the sponge, which will make the painting process more difficult and can cause paint leaking. If this occurs, simply and rub your sponge over the paint several more times until you achieve a dry surface.
  4. Lay the sponge on the skin and apply paint in dabbing moves.
    You can vary the shape and the colors applied on the skin by partially lifting and squeezing the sponge.

Sponge split cake work

Design Placement and Focal Points

Face painting is a combination of techniques that encompass both canvas art and makeup. Many people assume a talented canvas artist will find face painting easy, but this is not always the case. The obvious difference between a canvas and a human face is that one is flat and the other is not. Face painting, therefore, requires special design placement to enhance facial features. The artist must acknowledge and respect certain rules of placement and focal points, or the design will not be balanced. It will not have harmony or flow, and the end result may look out of place or just plain creepy.😂

Check out these focal point and placement guides for face painting:

Best placements for face painting designs
Tip: Download this high resolution template to assist you in your practice time and development of new designs.

A focal point is an invisible guide on the face. Focal points are where our eyes subconsciously look to for familiarity. They not only help us identify and map another human’s face, but they also involve the mathematics of symmetry, asymmetry, and geometry.

It may sound complicated, but for a face painter, the bottom line is: focal points help us to find balance and harmony within our designs. They are anchor points common to every human face, and understanding their locations can help dramatically improve our work.

Tip: Check out our blog post “Secret tips to obtain a flawless design in face painting” to get a deeper understanding of how focal points are used in practice.

If you need additional information for beginner techniques, don’t worry! We’ve composed a fantastic Beginner’s Guide for you as well!

Education and Practice: How to be a Face Painter

Why settle for mediocrity? If you are truly serious about making face painting your career, then you need to invest in yourself. Investing your time and money into education, professional tools and practice are the tools that are truly going to transform your talent and your business into something worth being proud of.

The International Face Painting School is the most comprehensive online program for the serious artist. With glowing reviews from the industry’s leading artists, the School is a sure-fire way to elevate your skills and confidence.

As well, investing your time and money with workshops that are hosted by leading industry professionals will also help you to achieve beautiful results and give you hands-on education necessary to be a face painter.

Your most valuable asset is your time. Free tutorials online can only take you so far and give you no actual feedback. At the end of the day, if you are not willing to take time out to practice your skills, even for a few minutes a day, you will find that your work will not progress as you would like.

Tip: To see how we (and our students!) manage to cram practice time into our busy schedules, read our article “Time Management: How to manage time wisely to balance work, family, life and self“.

There are two main ingredients for beginners who want to become successful face painting artists:

  1. Learn to face paint from the best in the industry.
    Don’t waste money on workshops with no-name artists. Bad habits are very difficult to eradicate.
  2. Practice consistently.
    Practice every day or every other day. Train the steadiness in your hand.
  • Start by reading this Guide.
  • Watch free tutorials on our YouTube channel.
  • Read our Face Painting Blog.
  • Take the Free Trial from the International Face Painting School.
  • Join face painting groups on Facebook — Share your work there and follow what other artists are painting. There is a ton of inspiration and motivation in these groups.
  • Enroll the International Face Painting School and learn the art of face painting starting with the very basics under the thoughtful guidance of a professional instructor.
    The amount of detail put into these courses is second to none. We have students who range in ability and experience from absolutely none to professionals with years of experience. These courses and the personalized instruction will take any aspiring artist from amateur to professional. You will also get plugged into our very active online community of fellow students who will encourage and enlighten you on your journey. The best part? You will forever have access to the School and any updates and new information that gets added over time!
    👉Take a look at the amazing achievements of some of our students!💖
  • Take a class with a professional instructor. There are a handful of super talented artists with amazing teaching skills and great experience in hosting workshops. A one day workshop will typically cost you around 100-150 EUR, but it is totally worth the investment if it’s with a leader of the industry.

Advanced Face Paint Design Ideas

Main categories/most popular face painting design ideas for beginners:

  1. Kitty cat
  2. Hello Kitty
  3. Minnie Mouse
  4. Butterfly
  5. Puppy
  6. Tiger
  7. Princess
  8. Batman
  9. Spiderman
  10. Pony
  11. Rainbow
  12. Skull
  13. Dragon
Tip: Check out our “TOP 10 must-learn face painting designs (and +1 more)” blog post for more ideas.

 

Themed designs for specific occasions and parties:

🎃Halloween: all sorts of scary stuff like monsters, skulls, zombies, vampires, ghosts, bats, pumpkins, black cats, witches, haunted houses etc.
🐇Easter: bunnies, Easter eggs, cross etc.
🎄Christmas: holly, reindeer, snowman, Santa, Grinch etc.
🎉Pokemon Party, Frozen Party, Minecraft Party and all sorts of different themed parties.

Tip: Check out our “Christmas Blog 🎄 Inspiration gallery, Tutorials, Step-by-Steps and Tips for holiday season” for more ideas.

Face Painting Jobs Guide

Personal hygiene, working with people, cleaning & carrying of materials

  • Dress up appropriately (no mini skirts or low cut tops). Also, stray away from dressing or painting scary designs on your own face for events where children will be present. Most children will not want to get their face painted if they are afraid of you!
  • Don’t use perfumes. Small children (and even some adults) can be extra sensitive to perfumes and some may have allergies. And of course, if you’re a smoker, you should never smoke near, before, or during your job, especially around children.
  • Keep your hands and nails always clean.
  • Avoid any biological fluids (yours or other people’s) that may contaminate your kit, or be transferred from one person to another. By biological fluids, I mean everything from tears, saliva, mucus (snot/boogers), and blood.
  • Keep a hand sanitizer with you at all times to wipe your hands and sanitize them in between clients or at least once every 10-15 minutes.
  • Use wet wipes for cleaning your hands and setup.
  • Don’t paint on sick children with infectious diseases like flu, cold, herpes, chickenpox, measles etc.
  • Don’t paint on kids with allergic manifestations or skin damage: allergic or contact dermatitis, asthma in its active phase, broken skin like ulcers, wounds or blood crusts.

Important preparations

  • Google the address of the party location, don’t assume you know where it is. You may get yourself in a situation where you have to travel further than you anticipated and run the risk of looking unprofessional when you are late.
  • Make sure you have your client’s phone number with you.
  • Make sure your cell phone is charged.
  • Arrive 15-20 minutes early to manage to set up.
  • Check that you have your complete setup with you and didn’t forget any brushes or sponges drying on the table after the previous gig. Many artists use a checklist to ensure they are ready to roll.
  • Ask if there will be access to the bathroom where you can take rinsing water, wash your hands, and pee! If there’s no access to running water, make sure you have a couple of bottles of rinsing water with you.
  • Ask the theme of the event, if any. It’s always great to offer designs to match the theme!

Carrying case

No matter how big or small your setup is at the moment, you’re going to need something to carry your supplies around in. Our blog author, Kelli shares how she started as an amateur with a plastic scrapbooking container purchased with a 40% off coupon at Michael’s Arts and Crafts! But continually upgrading your materials and tools, and reinvesting your earnings into your business will literally pay for itself!

Just look at the progression from her initial professional kit, made from an SRA case purchased on Amazon, to just a few months later with investments made in paints, brushes, tools and the general look and setup of the kit (mind the mess, this is an after job photo! 😂). Don’t be afraid to revise the look and contents of your kit on a consistent basis. In 6 more months, this case will look exponentially more professional. Be creative! We’ve seen artists use everything from camping kitchens to thrift store briefcases to make a kit. You can do this… on any budget.

Additional essentials

Our workplace changes drastically with every gig. Whether at a birthday party, outdoor carnival or an indoor festival… you may need to pack a few extras into your kit.

Make sure you have the following:

  • A table that can fit your kit — ask the client if they are able to provide you with one, or look for a lightweight folding one such as this one. Some artists even use keyboard stands and luggage racks to hold their kits.
  • A chair for your clients (and one for yourself if you prefer sitting to work).
  • A tent or an umbrella if you are working outdoors.
  • Some Q Tips for painting lips, baby wipes for dirty little faces and a water container for washing your brushes.
  • Business cards are an inexpensive and valuable tool, word of mouth is essential and cards help clients remember you.
  • Display of works — you can use an album or a menu board with images for reference.
    We cover this in a little more detail in our Beginner’s Guide.

What can you paint?

Every gig will require something different in terms of what designs you want to offer. It will take some time to find your personal style, but there are certain designs that will be popular at any event. Butterflies, Batman, kitty cats… these will be great go-to’s to add to your portfolio.

Decide on 10-15 faces to start with. Practice them and get them down solid.

Keep to only these designs at PPF (paid-per-face) gigs until you are eventually able to add more in. For themed and hourly gigs, learn a few coordinating designs for boys and girls to offer along with your go-tos. It’s a guarantee that no matter where you are, or what the party theme is… somebody is going to want to be Batman. This is precisely why you will learn two variations of Spidey (and Batman too!) during your training at the International Face Paint School.

How many kids can you paint per hour?

  • Determine whether you have the capacity to handle large numbers of kids.
    A normal time per a design should be 3-7 minutes, with variations of super fast designs of less than 1 minute. For instance, Kelli has a quick one-stroke variation of Batman that can be done in one minute on a wiggly toddler or at closing time, or a more complex full face Batman that can take up to 6-7 minutes with all the details. When you have time to be more creative you may spend up to 10-15 minutes on a more intricate design for the birthday boy/girl.
  • To speed up your work ask someone to act as a line manager to help you organize the line.
    They can help children choose their designs, get faces clean, take payments and keep your line in general order. Face painting tends to draw a crowd. Do not get overwhelmed by a long line, and do not allow children to crowd your workspace. This is an invitation for germs, and could send your precious kit (or your client!) crashing to the ground!

How much to charge?

At this point, we’ll assume you have decided you are ready to earn some real money with face painting, and as such, these are the tips you want to consider.

While new artists can’t necessarily charge as much as someone who’s been painting for 15 years, you don’t want to undercharge either. Take a moment to read our “How much should I charge for face painting? REAL PRICES” blog post so you can feel confident in your pricing.

You don’t want to undercut your competition in a huge way, this creates animosity amongst artists and frankly, doesn’t help you in the long run. Artists in many cities actually work together to set a fair pricing structure, learn new techniques and even work together or give referrals in the event that they are unavailable. This way, everyone works, everyone makes good money, and your clients will be pleased and impressed!

You Are Your Money

Lastly, take care of yourself! If you’ve read any of our previous articles, you will hear this over and over again, because it simply cannot be said enough. You are your income. If you aren’t careful, you can quickly find yourself unable to work due to illness, injury, stress or what have you. The truth is, this is a very physical job. On your feet for hours, fast-paced and busy, busy, busy. But we LOVE it. It is truly a labor of love. That being said, here are my tips for self-care.

  • Pee before you start — Yeah, go ahead and laugh now, but you do NOT want to find yourself an hour into a busy gig with a 20-kid-deep line having to stop and run to the bathroom!
  • Nutrition — Take plenty of drinking water. If you allow yourself to get dehydrated, especially at hot outdoor gigs, you can find yourself in a serious medical emergency. Also, for gigs over 3-4 hours, take yourself a healthy snack. We recommend something with protein. Apples, cheese sticks, nuts… Don’t starve yourself! Your shaky hands will do you no justice in achieving clean linework! A healthy lifestyle in general will go a loooooong way in ensuring you are fit for work.
  • Protect your workspace! — Your equipment is highly valuable. The LAST THING you want is some hyper 3-year-old knocking your precious kit to the ground.
    WARNING: Kids are going to try to touch your stuff! They just are. Accept it now. How are you going to deal with it? You don’t want to terrify them by yelling… there goes your money, crazy-face-painter-lady! Be firm, ask them not to touch your things when they try. Be sure they understand it’s not allowed. But, if you get an extra rambunctious child, be prepared to tell them they cannot get their face painted if they do not behave. You can even find signage that shows excited children exactly where to stand! Fellow face painter and graphic designer Wandie Perez came up with these clever and professional looking signs. You can visit her page here for purchasing inquiries.
  • Stretch! — For the love of God, stretch your body! If you don’t… you will end your gig looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Take an occasional break to walk around (in circles even, around your space) and stretch your arms and back every once in awhile.
  • Wear comfy shoes. Some artists even dress up in character during gigs, but even so, do NOT wear heels or uncomfortable shoes while working. Flats, walking shoes, padded boots… whatever you choose. But make certain you’re caring for your feet and legs.

Frantic or Fun?

  • Enjoy interacting with children.
    No matter what you do, even if you think your art is simple… if it makes children happy, then mission accomplished! This is the reason for our very existence! For the sake of those priceless mirror moments, when that SpiderMan looks in the mirror and freaks out over his awesome facepaint! That. That is the reason we love what we do. Cherish it! Love it! Enjoy it!
  • Face painting is meant to bring joy, not tears!
    You are entering into an amazing adventure. The ever-evolving world of face and body art is crazy exciting! Remember to be kind, your clients are mostly children, some of whom may be a little afraid. That’s ok, reassure them, don’t allow parents to force a crying child to be painted, tears make for runny paint! Talk to them, ask them how old they are, what their favorite color is. You want them to walk away happy, and… it’s ok to say no.
  • Take photos of painted children only with parent permission.
    Some parents may have personal reasons for not allowing their children to have their photo taken, especially used for advertisement purposes. Getting permission is vastly important.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself!
    Don’t panic! At the end of the day, you are an artist, not a doctor. There aren’t going to be many life or death situations on your hands, so relax! There will be the occasional weird or unusual circumstances that come up eventually… accept it now. But when life happens, remain calm and look for a solution. Take deep breaths, and remember to laugh. You can turn a stressful situation into a good laugh if you are able to simply step back and look at it from a different perspective.

How to Stay Booked… and Paid!

Entering into the world of face and body art professionally opens up a whole new world of opportunity. You no longer have to be satisfied with being an obscure face painter in your town, painting mediocre ladybugs and stars on kids cheeks. The face and body art community is HUGE and expanding daily. There are conventions with leading industry professionals who teach their amazing techniques all over the world!

Tip: Take a look at our article “How to Start Face Painting” where we’ve included a list of some of the biggest conventions worldwide.

Keep in mind, your most important marketing tool for getting face painting jobs is word of mouth! Happy clients will gladly share your page (and tag you!) on social media, take and pass on business cards and refer you to their friends. Free advertising!

But, if you want to stay consistently booked, you will have a little extra work to put in. Research events in your area (Facebook is an excellent tool for this) and contact the organizers to get yourself booked for their events.

Also be sure to join the leading face painting association to stay up to date on industry trends and best practices.

Meet with other local business owners that could utilize your services for their clients (party planners, party supply shops, photographers, day care centers) and just get creative. Networking will get you in front of people who can utilize you and put you in front of more clients than you could possibly get on your own.

Find out if there are any agencies (yes, this is a thing!) booking face painters for corporate clients in your area.

If you truly find you have aspirations for bigger things, the sky’s the limit. Getting into more advanced techniques with airbrushing, body painting and special effects makeup can propel you into “face paint famous” status! Movie companies, large corporations, famous artists, famous photographers, magazines, face paint companies… your limitations are completely up to you. Who knows? Maybe one day you’ll be the one instructing students in global workshops. We all start somewhere.

Find your niche. What is going to set you apart from other artists? You don’t have to stop at face painting. Look into offering additional services like belly painting for pregnant women. Read our article “My Top Secrets for Perfect Belly Painting” as a guide. You can even expand into other mediums such as airbrush, henna, festival glitter and more.

Join our Open Facebook group or any of the multitude of other face painter groups out there and your eyes will truly be opened to the amazing opportunities and friendships to be made in this industry.

A Note on Volunteering

Volunteering may not make you any income up front, but if done periodically (do NOT agree to volunteer for every person who asks, you will hurt your business) you can help out causes that are near and dear to your heart and use this as a networking opportunity for potential clients and events in the future. Use this also as an opportunity to try new designs and build up your portfolio! Also, you can help out charitable causes by giving a discount. This helps the charity while getting you a little income to replenish the supplies you’ve used. Your paint and supplies were not free, you should not feel obligated to provide free services to everyone who asks.

Insurance

When you become a professional, there are additional things to consider. Insurance not only provides your customer piece of mind, but you as well! Say, God forbid, you poke some wiggly 4-year-old in the eye and his parents try to sue. Never fear! Your insurance policy will cover you. Or, what if a freak tornado rips through the outdoor festival you are painting at?! Your insurance policy will allow you to replenish the valuable supplies that you lost.

Tip: There are various sources for artist insurance, for a list of options all over the world, check out our article “Insurance for the Professional Face Painter“.

Business license

Business licensing is not required in every state or country. However, you should check your area’s requirements immediately. The last thing you want is for someone to shut you down and prevent you from making some serious money because you didn’t have the correct permit to operate at the annual street fair! A DBA (doing business as) will allow you to open bank accounts, apply for loans and cash checks with your company’s business name on the forefront. A Google search and some reading, such as this article will help you determine what, if any business licensing your area requires.

Self promotion and advertising

Two words. Social Media. Nowadays, if you aren’t on social media, you don’t exist! Start a business account for Facebook, and additionally consider Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter amongst the sea of others. These are the most prevalently used platforms and will allow you to interact with potential and current customers and keep your work in front of people’s eyes… like a free commercial! Consider as well, paying for some advertising on these platforms. If you aren’t out there, passing out business cards, working events and posting all over social media… people will not remember you.

How to earn more money

Do you feel like you are simply working to pay for your materials? If so… you are not pricing yourself properly! Face and body art is a lucrative and high demand industry! Find out what other artists in your area are offering and charging. Educate yourself and practice so that you are worthy of that price increase. Your time is your money. Do not allow people to guilt you into free services that you would not otherwise offer. Do yourself a favor and read our article “How to work fewer hours and earn more money“.

Becoming a Professional Face Painter: Find Your Style

Who are you? What is your style? How will people differentiate and know your work above others?

Whether you excel in amazing super hero renditions like the fabulous Corey Morgan, you rock a sugar skull like Shawna Del Real and Ronnie Mena… or you become a one-stroke master like the lovely Sally Ann Lynch. Every artist will create a style of their own. It may take some time, and that’s ok.

Once you find the style and techniques that speak to you, your work will soar. Practice, practice, practice and study the masters to see how their designs and style developed. You may one day be famous for developing a new technique that will be credited as the “Jane Doe” style butterfly… or what have you?

The End.
Just kidding!
😃

But really, we truly hope you take this guide on how to become a face painter and use it to propel your art and your business to the next level. You can do this. Do not be ashamed of where you are starting, be proud of where you are going. With determination and dedication, you too can become an expert in this industry. You too can become “face paint famous”. Your work and designs can inspire countless other aspiring artists. Congratulations, you picked one heck of an amazing industry to become a part of! Welcome! You are about to have the time of your life, and get paid for it!

Don’t Miss Out: Subscribe today to receive expert tips and tricks, fresh face painting ideas, step-by-steps, and more.

Be sure to like and share this article with other artists! The information within is valuable and great for artists at every level in the industry. Do you have any tips as to add to aspiring professionals? Or, are you an up and coming artists with questions that we possibly didn’t cover in the guide? Drop us a comment below and get the conversation started!👇😃👇😍👇

 — Olga Murasev, Kelli Zermeño

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