We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard someone call and say:
“Can you do my Jimmy’s 5th birthday party tomorrow? The $20 an hour face painter we found on a Facebook’s second-hand selling page, with no website or business page, has surprisingly let us down last minute!”
We are forever seeing people getting ripped off by face painters or other various entertainers and we are sick and tired of it! We also see posts of children on Facebook where our friends’ children have had some of the most awful face painting designs we’ve ever seen. Our heart goes out to them! It’s very hard to know as a parent or an event organizer to know who to book if you don’t know what you’re looking for. So, this is a guide full of tips for hiring a painter for your event. We hope it gives you a few giggles and a LOT of insight into what you’re getting for your money.
Do you have liability insurance?
Good Answer: “Yes, I have coverage with such and such a company up to 2/5 million.”
Bad answer: “Erm, What’s that? Oh, no I don’t. I don’t worry about being sued, so it’s not a problem.”
An entertainer, like in every business, should have liability face painters insurance. This is for your piece of mind as well as for covering any accidents. It is not only to help cover their stuff if it gets damaged, but it is also a major red flag if they do not carry it!
What products do you use?
Good Answer: “I use high quality, cosmetic grade, FDA approved face paints and fine cosmetic glitters.”
Bad answer: “Acrylic paint or dollar store paints and a couple of brushes.”
Some so-called face painters have been spotted at events using acrylic paints which contain all sorts of chemicals which have been shown to give children chemical burns. Protect yourself and your children!
How many children can you paint/make balloons for in an hour?
Good Answer: “I offer 10-14 children painted per hour”
Bad answer: “You have 100 kids in one hour? Yeah sure, that’s fine”
Depending design and age. If you have more in a short time I can bring in other artists I work with regularly”
This can vary greatly depending on what local face-painting artists offer and what designs they may have to do and the age of the children. A competent artist should be able to paint 10-15 full faces an hour minimum. If they are age 3-4 vs 9-10 it may take longer, as younger, more active children often take longer to choose a design.
Do the math on how many they offer to paint per hour. 30 kids in one hour comes out to 2 minutes per face. That is for the child to choose a design, pick a color, get in and out of the face painters chair, and any entertaining banter that may go back and forth. That doesn’t leave much time for the painter to do the design and clean the brushes unless of course they get out the paint roller!
Is there anyone you can’t paint at the event?
Good Answer: “For safety reasons I can’t paint anyone with skin conditions such as eczema, anyone who has a contagious illness, and children under 3 due to them having sensitive skin. I won’t paint any child who doesn’t want it.”
Bad answer: “I’ll paint anyone. You want me to paint your newborn head to toe for a baby shoot? Yeah, great I’ll be there!”
A child should enjoy the experience from beginning to end. Because of this, we do not allow our face painters for parties to paint children that are dragged by their parents kicking and screaming into the chair. We also do not paint children under the age of 3. We also do not ever paint children that are asleep as it can be a very traumatic experience when the child wakes to see an unfamiliar face in the mirror. Along with all these, we refuse to paint any sick children as we do not wish to facilitate any spreading of disease or sickness.
Just because they have been painted before doesn’t mean it is a good idea. There are unprofessional painters out there that will agree to do anything for a few dollars, but that is not what we represent. We wish to always uphold a professional and safe entertainment practice. If a child is super squirmy, we do our best to paint what we can, but they may not be able to sit still for a long enough time to get a very intricate design.
What hygiene methods do you use?
Good Answer: “We wash our brushes, change our water regularly and use 1 sponge per child. We use Q-tips to apply paint to the mouth and use one stencil per child for glitter tattoos with a skin safe glue. (We do not apply glitter tattoos on the face or neck.) All our equipment is cleaned thoroughly after every event.”
Bad answer: “I use one sponge per color on all the kids snotty faces, including the one with chickenpox brewing in their system and spit on the water based paint in order to activate it.”
That bit with the spit activating the paint is a true story of what another one of our face painters witnessed happening at an event! I KNOW, IT’S GROSS! Hygiene is important and something only a professional tends to practice well. It’s to ensure your child has the best experience and doesn’t start growing warts where their tiger paint was. Bear in mind dirty water that has been used all day by a painter and paint-stained water are two different things. Water can look dirty the second the paint touches it, but may not necessarily be as dirty as it looks.
What kind of setup do you have?
Good Answer: “I have a neat and tidy set up, including all the many colors I may need. It takes me about 10 minutes to set up on my face paint table with my chair. I have pictures on my website if you would like to see something specific.”
Bad answer: “I use an old sewing box to hold all my paint and I keep the dirty sponges from my last event to use again and again. It only takes me a second to setup because I just throw my stuff onto any table I can find.”
Set up says a lot about an artist. It’s a larger part of what you are paying for. A kit that has been built up and lovingly put together so your artist can be clean efficient and look good at your event can be impressive. And the organization in the kit often reflects on the organization of the artist in general and the effort they put into their business. Many times a proper kit can cost hundreds of dollars or more and goes a long way towards helping the artist be efficient, clean, and presentable to your guests.
Do you have examples of your work or a website?
Bad answer: “I don’t have a website or any of my own pictures but here’s some designs painted by another artist that I offer sometimes.”
Some people do post other peoples work to their web pages, so be aware and ask if you are unable to tell. Try and look for pictures of them working at what looks like an event in real time so you can get an idea of what on the job faces actually look like rather than what might be a 2 hour staged design. Some offer pictures at events of other artists work that they often can’t replicate. Also I am always dubious about a business without an official webpage or email. If they are not going to take the time to create a presentable website and pay the $20 per year to have a domain name, then do you really think they will take the time to make sure your guests are presentable at a party or event?
Where did you learn to face paint?
Good Answer:“All of our artists spend a lot of time educating themselves through classes, DVD’s, books, magazines, and countless hours of practicing and meeting with other artists at events and conventions. This is to make sure we can constantly have new designs and stay up to date with new techniques.”
Bad answer:“I thought it would be fun so I did a couple of friends parties first. Now I do it all the time for money on the side.”
If your entertainer has not attended a convention or workshop for their craft, the chances are pretty high that they are guessing at a lot of things. If they use the wrong paint, brush cleaner, or hygiene techniques they can cause allergic reactions, stained skin, or worse!
How do I book a face painter?
Good Answer:“Please fill out our event request form online and then we can send you a contract which you can sign digitally. You can even pay the deposit online as well. Once deposit is paid and the contract is signed, we are ready to go for your event.”
Bad answer:”Just give me your info and I’ll show up the day of your event. Pay me cash because I don’t accept checks, credit cards, or anything else. Make sure you have a tip ready for me too!”
If an artist has you send details and sign an agreement, please fill out the information completely and also READ ALL OF THE CONTRACT. It is there to protect you AND the artist, so you should know what it says. The booking fee is so that you do not cancel last minute as the artist makes their living performing and cannot hold a date without compensation. If they do not have any of this in place, it is a sure sign that they have not been in the business long and you may end up with a performer that is not experienced or that may not even show up at all!
The tidbit about a tip was due to an experience I had with an entertainer. Though it is often customary for a client to tip an entertainer, having an entertainer practically demand it is not only rude, but unprofessional. If they are working an all cash business and hustling for tips, it’s possible they are not just trying to deceive the government. You may be deceived as well!
You may think a good artist / entertainer is very expensive. However, you are not just paying for the hours they are at your event. You are paying for their ever expanding kit they bring, travel, years of experience, practice and training (often from artists all over the world), marketing, time spent on administration of their business, hours on phones answering questions, supplies, and much, much more. Entertainers are not a rich bunch, but often love what they do with passion. I know the highlight of my day is seeing that mirror moment when a child is transformed and hearing the “oohs” and “aahs” from the adults and children alike.
Though there are more questions and answers we can go over, this should get you started on the path to finding a great entertainer for your event. We hope this mini guide has been helpful, and slightly amusing, for you to read. Even more so, we hope it has helped you toward making a choice for the very best option for spending those very important pennies for your wedding, christening, 5th birthday party, or whatever other type of event you are planning. These are all important milestones for you so make them count and invest well in your entertainment. You will not regret it!
Thank you for reading this. None of this post would have been written if it were not for the wonderful article posted by Miss Gemma Wright from Party Faces in the UK. You can see her information at any of the following locations:
She can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to book a face painter in Florida or the US, please contact us via our web form at: http://www.YTEevents.com