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How to Hire a Face Painter

Kids just love to have their face painted.

How to Hire a Face Painte

You have the whole birthday party planned and now your child tells you they really, really, really want a face painter. So you find yourself frantically searching the internet for face painters in your area. You freeze in a moment of panic as hundreds of web pages scream at you from the vastness of the World Wide Web.

First, take a deep breath and remember this is the fun stuff in life. It doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming if you are prepared. Based on my solid 12 years of experience as a professional face painter – and a mom – I am going to share with you my top six inside tips on finding the best artist for your birthday party, plus the one important thing you should avoid.

So here are Margie’s Dos and Don’ts for selecting a skilled, professional, and enjoyable face painter for your event.

  1. Review your guest list and count every child over the age of 3. This is the number of children you will mention in your request for a quote – and be honest. Thinking that not every child will get painted is a gamble equivalent to thinking not every child will eat pizza. Not every child will eat a full slice but some will eat more than you thought. You don’t want to book the wrong amount of time and be disappointed on the day of your party if the artist cannot stay to accommodate the additional children.
  2. Be realistic about the time it will take. The average number of guests an experienced professional face painter can paint in an hour will be between 10 and 12. This takes into account the decision-making process of a sugared-up 4-year-old, repainting a crying tiger and being challenged by your 12-year-old to paint something no one has ever heard of before.
  3. Narrow down your options. Ask your friends, ask the other moms at school, ask on local mom’s groups on social media and read articles like this one. Follow up with the names that come up a lot. You’ll want an artist that is highly recommended and has a lot of repeat customers in your community. If you are trusting someone to come into your home you’ll want to do a little pre-qualifying before you start asking for quotes.
  4. Know your numbers. The average price varies based on the artist’s experience. In our area, you can expect a quote from $125 to $150 an hour. Be wary of numbers much lower and much higher. You are paying for quality specialty products for the use on skin, experience, speed, variety of designs, travel, insurance and a whole lot of dedication and patience. This is hands down the best job you can ever have but there are expenses to running a sustainable business and if someone is charging $50 an hour chances are they will not be available next year for your next event.
  5. Ask questions. There are two important questions you should ask your potential artist. First, confirm that they carry liability insurance and can provide an additional insured certificate if requested by your venue. Also ask about products. Only skin safe professional cosmetics and glitter should be used for face painting. Never ever put acrylics on the skin as it can cause rashes and contact dermatitis. Craft store glitter is never acceptable only .008 Hex cut polyester or biodegradable is safe for the use on skin.
  6. Be prepared for your quote. Put all the relevant information in your email, this should include the date, time, location, number of guests, and any special requests or questions you have. This cuts down on the need for back and forth emails and it will save a ton of time. Your artist is also better prepared to discuss availability and give you a quote. If you want to chat ask to schedule a phone call. Scheduling time to speak means both of you will be available to speak – weekends are the absolute worst time to call a face painter because well … they are painting.
  7. Go to Contract. When you have come to an agreement and have received a contract you should read it, approve it, and send it back with your retainer. You are not on the calendar if you have inquired but haven’t committed. You just went through all that trouble to find the right artist available on the right date at the right time – do not lose them now! You may not be the only quote the artist has out for the date you want and the first contract back gets preference. You do not want to start all over again, or worse, call to see where the artist is the day of your event and find out you never booked it.

And the number one mistake you can make is sending out the invitations without booking your artist.

If you have chosen one of the most requested dates for face painting and the invitations have gone out, you run the risk of disappointing your child as well as your guests when all the best artists are already booked. You will have no choice but to take what you can get. So as soon as you have an idea that you are going to start planning a date, get in touch with your artist and check availability and go to contract before you send out the invitations.

Through this whole process remember a great party is a collaborative event. The time you put in before will make your day run smooth and you will be able to relax and enjoy the big day. When it’s over you will have great pictures, amazing memories, and 365 days to plan the next one!

Margie Nugent is the owner of Making Faces Parties Inc. located in Mount Kisco, N.Y. For the past 12 years, she has made her living making kids and parents happy as a professional face painter. Her work has been featured on the Today Show, at various movie openings for Twentieth Century Fox, and at party venues and private homes throughout Westchester. She travels nationally to Face and Body Art conventions to teach other artists how to be the best they can be.