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Face Painting Client Contracts…What Do I Write?

It’s that time of year when quote requests are coming in and your inbox may be filling up with leads from gig sites.  If you’re still new to operating as a business, this time is exciting but also scary, as you realize you need to get your act together with a contract!

Face painting is a fun and colorful profession…I try to make even my contracts reflect that! 😉

You start out face painting and give all of your clients the benefit of the doubt…you trust that they want you when and where they say they want you, and that they will pay you for your work.  Then comes the day you learn your lesson the hard way that you should have gotten a contract and deposit because:

  • You show up and the event has been cancelled.  
  • You do an event and then never get paid.  
  • The client found someone cheaper at the last second.
  • The client hired someone else and forgot to tell you.
  • You’ve turned away several other gigs for this one and now have none.  
  • The venue has changed and nobody informed you.
  • It started to rain so they rescheduled the party.
  • The client told you there would be 10 kids and there are 30 but they still expect you to paint them all in 1 hour.
  • The client told you there would be 10 kids and only 5 showed up so now they want to pay you half.
  • You think you have landed a gig but then can’t seem to get ahold of the client and they stop communicating with you.
  • The client argues that you didn’t do what you promised them and now they’re refusing to pay.

Yes, ALL of these things have happened to face painters that I know of!

If you’ve already had one or more of these things happen, don’t let it get you down…it’s happened to just about every seasoned professional painter out there, and it’s what nudges us all into that next step of requiring contracts and deposits, and one of the factors that will differentiate a job from a hobby. My hope is that this never has happened to you, that you read this, and learn from our mistakes.  It’s never too early and you’re never too new as a face painter to start using contracts!

First, I must note that I am in no way a legal professional.  Nothing I say here is meant to be taken as legal advice, and you and only you are responsible for what you decide to do with your business. I personally have no idea what exact terminology is best for legal things…I am only collecting and assembling verbiage from other contracts I have seen and used.  I highly recommend that you have a legal professional look over your final contract and answer any legal questions you may have, to make sure you are covered!
That said, I thought it might be helpful to just post some ideas on verbiage that people put into their contracts. This post is meant to be a starting point in deciding what you’d like to have in your contract. This is essentially a list of different ways to word things, taken from contracts that other artists have shared online, and my own.  By the way, if you have your own verbiage that you’d like to share with others, please comment below or email me! My plan is to keep adding to this post as a resource! My hope is that this will not only help you think about what things are important to you in your contract, but will enable you to easily cut and paste to get a start on your own contract.  Remember, your contract doesn’t have to be set in stone either…you may find things that you didn’t think were important, later become important, so you adjust it for the next client.
What to call it:
Booking Agreement
Event Contract 
Service Agreement

Basic Event Information:
  • Date of the contract
  • Your business name, address, email and phone
  • Client’s name, billing address, email and phone
  • Client’s contact number for the day of the event (in case you get lost or run late)
  • Event name, address & phone (if different than client’s)
  • Alternate Location in case of inclement weather
  • Event Date
  • Artist(s)
  • Time slot of your performance
  • Fees (hourly fee, flat rate, travel fees, etc)
  • Type of Event (birthday, company picnic, grand opening, private session, etc)
  • Theme of Event (Frozen, circus, super heroes, etc)
  • Number of children expected
  • Services to be provided (Be clear here, if you are agreeing to painting a certain number of kids, for a certain amount of time, etc)
  • Artist Requests (table, chairs, shelter, access to a sink, anything required by the artist to paint. Don’t assume anything! You could end up outside on a cold, rainy day with no shelter and your chair legs sinking into the mud…yes, this has happened!!)

Booking Requirements: What you require to consider the gig booked
  • A completed contract must be received ____ days prior to the event or client runs the risk of losing that date.
  • A completed contract must be received in the office at least 14 days prior to the event along with a _______ non-refundable booking fee/deposit. 
Fees: What you are charging the client
There are various fees to consider in your contract. First, there’s the fee for your work, which might be per hour, per child, or a flat rate for the party. Be clear about this in your contract, so that the client knows exactly what they are paying for, and what they are not paying for.  If you’re charging by the hour, make sure you’ve allotted enough time to paint all the expected kids. If there end up being more kids than expected (which happens a LOT), make sure you outline a plan so that you either get compensated for extra time, or the client is aware that you won’t get the extra kids painted.

Then there are travel fees. Most artists have a certain mileage radius or amount of drive time that is included, and they don’t charge a travel fee if it’s within this range.  I tend to charge by the drive time, not miles, because my time is money! If you are having to turn away other gigs closer to home to accommodate the additional drive time to an event, you may want to charge a travel fee.  Some clients won’t realize how far you are from them, especially if they found you online. But don’t assume they aren’t willing to pay for your travel time. I have had events that are 2-3 hours away one way who have paid my full hourly rate just for the drive time on a busy summer Saturday.  Make the rate whatever is worth it to you for your time and gas. Travel fees are also a great place to offer a discount for customers looking for one. I often waive the travel fees if it is a long gig, say 3-4 hours or more.

The other fee is your deposit. Some artists call this a booking fee, or a retainer. The deposit has to be a high enough amount that it would hurt the client a little if it were forfeited…otherwise there is no point. What good will a $20 deposit do you if they later find someone who costs $30 less per hour and hire them instead? The deposit is there to ensure that you are not setting aside a busy summer weekend, turning away other paying events, only to later be cancelled on and make $0.  If for some reason it’s cancelled still, you at least make something for blocking out your time and all the time you spend in communication with the client, preparing your designs and equipment, and writing up contracts.

Here are a few lines you might use to outline your fees:

  • Travel fees apply when the event is more than ____ miles from _____.  
  • An additional travel charge of ____ will be applied for each mile beyond ___ miles 1-way.
  • A travel fee of ____ is due along with the deposit no later than ____.
  • If your event exceeds the time booked and we are available to stay, any additional time will be charged in ____ minute increments at a rate of ______ per _____ minute increment.
  • Client will pay for the time booked plus any time run over.
  • Artists who arrive and are ready to paint at designated start time are not responsible for late arrivals or late start to the party.   
  • The client will reimburse artist for any parking fees, which must be paid on the day of the event.
  • A ____ Deposit/Booking Fee (percentage or flat fee) AND signed contract is required to reserve your date.
Payment: When your fees are due and what payment methods you accept

Make sure it is very clear to the client how and when all fees are due.  If accepting personal checks for deposit, make sure you require them far enough out to confirm that they clear.  Accepting fees via Paypal is a great way to get paid quickly! However, they do take a percentage. Some artists charge an extra few percent for Paypal payments or credit card swipes.  I require Paypal payment of deposits for all last minute events which are within 2 weeks of the event date.  If the event is within 2 days of the original request, I require 100% up front via Paypal.  I am not a fan of procrastinating as it always causes extra stress and opportunity for mistakes.  Some artists offer a small discount if the amount is paid in full before the event, to encourage getting all the payment done up front.  Here are a few lines you might use to describe payment:
  • All charges are due on the day of the event.
  • The client agrees to pay the full amount contracted once the artist(s) have arrived at the event location.
  • We accept cash, cashiers checks, personal checks, credit cards, Paypal… 
  • Checks can be made payable to [Your company here].
  • The client agrees to pay for any accidents or injuries caused by pets or guests, and/or any damage to artist’s equipment or supplies caused by pets, sprinklers, or guests.
  • The remaining balance of this contract is payable to [Your company] upon the artist’s arrival, prior to the designated start time.  
  •  The remaining balance is due upon the artist’s arrival on the date of the event.
  • The remaining balance due must be postmarked no later than ___ to avoid late fees.
  • We can accept Paypal payments or credit cards for an additional 3% processing fee.
  • Late payments are subject to a 5% finance charge per month or fraction thereof.
I’ve heard many stories of personal checks bouncing, but have not had this happen to myself yet.  Some artists call the bank first to make sure there are sufficient funds before cashing a check, to avoid fees. Some simply do not accept personal checks. This is entirely up to you!
Services To Be Provided:

They’ve hired you to paint faces. You’ve agreed to paint faces.  However, the two of you may have a totally different definition of this service.  Maybe the client assumes you’re going to just hang out and keep painting until everyone is painted, regardless of time or how many people show up.…while you know you have to pack up at a specific time to make it to your next event on time.  SO many issues can be avoided simply by managing your clients’ expectations. Make sure that you both understand exactly what you are providing, whether it be a certain amount of time, specific number of kids, etc.  Do you paint all of the adults who ask to be painted too?  What happens if you go over your agreed upon time? What if they want you to stay but you can’t? Does the client know that you may need a break or two to change your rinse water & use the restroom?  Do they know how much room you need for your setup?  Are you expecting them to provide you with a table and chairs? What if nobody shows up for the party? What if the party starts a half hour late? Here are a few lines to cover some of these things…

  • Artist will provide ___ hours of face painting, starting at __:__ and ending at __:__.
  • Artist will arrive ___ minutes early to allow time to set up.
  • If more guests attend the event than are expected, and the artist does not have another event to attend, the artist may stay longer and will bill client at the agreed upon hourly rate for additional time.
  • Artists cannot be held responsible for the number of attendees at your event. 
  • The artist may take a ____ minute break every ____ hours, for events that go more than ___ hours. 
  • Estimated number of children painted per hour is dependent upon all of the guests being present at the start time and ready to go one after another. For a more casual schedule, please factor in additional time.

Don’t forget the services you are NOT providing:

Sometimes artists show up and find out that they are going to be in a room alone with 20 wild children while the adults sip beverages in the other room. Are you responsible for babysitting?  Are you expected to keep fixing designs that are repeatedly ruined because it is a pool party?

  • Artists will not be responsible for supervising children. Their behavior and safety is the Client’s and/or Parents’ responsibility, and client agrees to provide proper supervision for all children.
  • Artist is not responsible for any adverse effects that other entertainment might have on the face painting, such as sweat (bounce houses), water (swimming pools), etc. Your quoted time frame does not include time required to re-do faces so please plan accordingly.
  • Client is responsible for providing _________. (table, chairs, tent, etc)


Working Conditions

I’ve heard quite a few horror stories about painters getting caught up in fights, being subjected to angry, drunk, inappropriate and unruly party guests, and even having their paints ruined by sprinklers.  While it’s sad that we even have to spell these things out, sometimes it is necessary and nice to give yourself an out if you feel unsafe!  Other conditions also may come into play such as parking, apartment buildings with no elevators, etc.

  • Artist reserves the right to stop painting and leave without refunding any monies if there are extreme adverse working conditions and the client fails to remedy the situation after it has been brought to the client’s attention.  Adverse conditions include but are not limited to destructive, violent, or inappropriate behavior of a child, pet or adult, illegal activities, or otherwise dangerous conditions including lightening and severe weather.
  • Please either leave a space open in front of the house on the street, the driveway, or a loading dock so Artist can unload equipment.
Indoor Events:
  • Artist requires access to bathroom facilities, and a minimum of ___’ x ___’ space to work.
  • Please ensure that location has adequate lighting but we can bring lights if necessary – please let us know.
Outdoor Events:
  • Client is responsible for providing an alternate indoor location in the event of inclement weather.
  • Client must provide Artist with sun/wind/rain shelter, table, 2 chairs per Artist, and adequate space (___’ x ___’) and lighting to paint.
  • Artists are not able to paint outdoors when the temperature is below ___ degreees.
  • We can bring our easy-up shelter, table, and chairs for an additional charge of $____ . We will need to set up 25 minutes prior to start / after completion of event in this case.  We require a minimum of 10’L x 10’W x 11’ H of level space, adequate lighting, & access to a rest room.  Please avoid watering your lawn on the day of your party, or soak it heavily the previous day if possible, to accommodate our tent, table & chair legs.
  • While Client can choose to pay for the Artist to bring an EZ Up shelter, for the comfort of your guests and our artists, the client agrees to provide an area with protection from extreme temperatures, sun, rain, snow and excessive wind.
  • The client agrees to pay the full amount contracted once  the painter has arrived at the event location, even if it is raining.  Please note that we do not offer refunds for inclement weather.
Rescheduling: In the event of a cancellation, rain, etc…

You’ve done your part by securing your event with a deposit. But what if they still want to cancel? Sometimes things happen that are out of the control of you and the planner and things change. Make sure you have a plan if this happens so that you don’t end up without a gig on a normally busy weekend.

  • Should you need to reschedule your event, please do so at least ___ days prior to the event and we will do everything we can to accommodate your needs.
  • We do not offer refunds for inclement weather so please secure an alternate indoor location for your event in advance.
  • If you need to cancel your event, you must do so at least ____ hours/days in advance or pay the full contract amount.
  • Should you need to  reschedule  or cancel your event,  you must provide us with an intent to cancel or reschedule notice at least ____ days in advance, in order to receive your deposit/booking fee back.  If notice is not given with those seven days you will only be allowed to reschedule.  
  • Cancellations given within  _____  hours prior to the cancellation date will be held responsible for the remaining balance of the contract.  Remember no refunds will be given due to inclement  weather so please secure an alternate indoor location for your event in  advance.
  • Deposits are non-refundable and required to hold event date. For events cancelled no later than ____ weeks before event date, the deposit may be applied toward a future date.
  • Should our Artist get sick or have to cancel, we will find a replacement artist.

Limits and Liability:
Allergic Reactions, Health and Safety
  • Artists are not liable for allergic reactions to paints.  People with skin allergies or sensitive skin should either not participate, request an ingredient list, or have artist perform a patch test at the beginning of the event.
  • Artist can provide ingredient lists for those guests who have allergies, if requested at least 24 hours before the event.
  • Artist will not paint anyone who is or appears to be sick or suffering from cold sores, conjunctivitis, ringworm, sunburn, eczema, any infectious skin condition or open wounds.  These determinations are at the artist’s discretion.
  • Artists are not liable for damage sustained from allergic reactions to face paints, products used for glitter tattoos or Henna stains.   
  • Client understands that darker face paints will linger and must be removed with mild soap, water and washcloth.
  • We strive to use only the safest materials, however, no product can guarantee that they will not cause a reaction on anyone. It is the client’s responsibility to be aware of ingredients that they may be sensitive to, and ask for an ingredient list if desired. 
  • The artist reserves the right to refuse to paint any attendees with signs of infectious diseases at any point in the event. 
  • Although we only use paints that are safe for use on skin, allergic skin reactions can occur and paint should be removed immediately.
  • For safety reasons, artist will not paint children under the age of 2 or anyone who is unwilling.
  • If the client knows beforehand of any attendees who have infectious/contagious diseases such as chicken pox, pink eye etc, the artist must be informed at least ___ before the event and the event is subject to cancellation without a refund of the booking fee. If the client does not inform the artist beforehand, and the artist’s equipment is subsequently contaminated, the client will be invoiced for the appropriate decontamination or if necessary, replacement of any affected equipment.
Subject Matter
  • Artist will not paint subject matter that he or she deems offensive or disturbing.
  • At public events, artist will not paint on any part of the body that is not legal to expose or any place he or she does not feel comfortable painting.
Photo Release

You may want to take photos for your own website, Facebook page or advertising.  I like to share photos online and usually just ask the parents if it’s okay if I take their child’s photo.  Some people bring a photo release and have the parents sign them.  You can include verbiage about this in your contract too. I don’t normally include this,  just because at birthday parties you may not have all of the parents there to get permission from and the host may not have the authority to grant you permission to take photos of other people’s children.  I do put this in my contracts for belly paintings and private sessions though, as it’s easy being only one person painted.

  • By having your guests painted and photographed, permission is thereby granted to use images for our portfolio and marketing materials, such as printed brochures, social media or website gallery images.  No names will be revealed.  If you do not agree, please inform us and you and your guests’ privacy will be respected.
  • Artists may take photos of their work. Artist retains the right to use these images for promotional purposes on the company website and social media pages. If you do not wish for photographs to be taken, please inform us in writing prior to your event.
Acceptance of Contract
  • Include a place to sign, print name, and date.
  • “I have read, understand, and accept the terms of this contract.”
  • “By signing this, you have read and agree to the above terms and conditions”
  • “By signing my signature above/below, I affirm that I have read, understand and accept the Liability Statement and terms of  this agreement.  I agreeto pay  the  total amount due  unless  I give notice to reschedule within ____ hours/days of the event date.”
  • “[Your Company Name] will contact you _____ days prior to your event to confirm all details. In the mean time, please feel free to contact us with any questions at __________.”
  • “Once agreement and deposit are returned, this event is considered booked and you will receive confirmation by _[email or phone]__. Please retain a copy for yourself.”
  • Have a line to sign on and date! If I have to send a Paypal invoice for a last minute gig, sometimes I’ll note on the invoice “Payment of this invoice constitutes agreement of the terms outlined in service contract” so it can count as their signature in a pinch.
I hope this has been helpful for you in starting to form your own contracts! Getting anything in writing is better than nothing, and it really helps to ensure that you and your client are on the same page. If you’ve left out anything important or that you just didn’t think of, chances are you’ll learn and revise the next time around.  Most professionals revise and refine their contracts many times as different situations come up, to avoid them happening again, so this is a natural process! This blog post is a living document, and I do plan to add more verbiage as I come across others. Thanks for reading and happy painting!! 🙂

5 thoughts on “Face Painting Client Contracts…What Do I Write?

  1. You are so thorough! I have found some other easy ways for the client to pay instantly. You can set up with your bank to have direct deposit from your client's bank account to yours by just using your email address. You just need to set it up once. Your banker can walk you thru it on how to set it up on your online banking. The big banks are doing this. If your client is with a small bank then they can use or You just have to set it up with these two funds transfer companies and you just need to do it once a client first sends you funds in this manner, real easy.

    Deb D

  2. Wonderful information! I am a newbie and just getting started. I can't thank you enough for this.

  3. Wonderful information! I am a newbie and just getting started. I can't thank you enough for this.

  4. Consider your site now on my favourites bar. Although I am very new to this and intend to keep it more as a hobby than a full on business it is very useful to see some well worded phrases laid out so thoroughly. Thank you so much.

  5. Consider your site now on my favourites bar. Although I am very new to this and intend to keep it more as a hobby than a full on business it is very useful to see some well worded phrases laid out so thoroughly. Thank you so much.