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“Ka-Ching! Face Paint Your Way to Extra Cash!”

I recently was quoted in a magazine article. Normally I’m really excited when this happens, but this particular article I had some mixed feelings with.

I was contacted back in February 2015 by a reporter from Woman’s World. She stated,  “…I’m doing a piece for Woman’s World on how to make extra money as a face painter and wonder if you’d be available for a brief interview….”

Hmm…”extra money?” These words made me fear that this article may go in a direction that I and other professional face painters may not like.  I had two reactions. First, “Don’t reply…you do NOT want your name attached to this.”  Then, “Hey, this might actually be a great opportunity to build up the credibility of our profession and really give aspiring face painters good advice.”

First, let me mention that I have NO problem with competition…good, healthy competition makes us all better!! The other artists in our area will even tell you that I LOVE getting to know my “competition,” love to jam with them, learn with them, and LOVE to help out new face painters! That itself is clear from my website too, which may be why I was contacted.  So, my reaction has nothing to do with that aspect…but about building up my fellow painters and our profession.

What I did NOT want to encourage are the ideas that:
– Face painting is easy
– It doesn’t cost much to start face painting
– Anyone can face paint and earn extra cash
– Face painting is something people just do “on the side” for “extra cash.”

My response was a really lengthy email that I will paste below so you can see my attempts to spread the word about our profession.  I actually had to think about this for 2 days before I finally replied because I wanted to be really careful that I wouldn’t come across as endorsing the above points and make it clear that my participation hinged on how things were presented. But more importantly, I wanted to make sure to take this opportunity to actually educate the public about what it really takes to be a good face painter without making a lot of local enemies! This is why I said that I would agree to an interview ONLY if they were not portraying face painting in this “extra cash” light.

“…I would be super honored to be a part of your article! However, I’m afraid my participation will depend on how you’re handling the subject. Let me explain…

There are many, many face painters out there who have a solid career in this field, and even support their families on face painting alone.  I know you’re aiming you article at moms who want to do it on the side, which is great, as most professional face painters start in this way!  But, it’s really important to dot some i’s and cross some t’s along the way….

In my opinion there are two types of face painters who do it “for extra money” while also working other full time jobs or full time motherhood:

1 – Those who paint for free or cheap for charity, school & church functions, and may charge a little money to paint for some birthday parties here and there…they buy a set of paints, whatever they can find cheap at the craft store, and do it more as a hobby for some extra cash…in our area these artists are anywhere from free to $50 per hour.

2 – These are artists who also do face painting on the side for extra cash, but treat face painting as a legitimate business, not just a hobby. At a very minimum, they invest in FDA compliant face paints and cosmetic glitters, and they purchase liability insurance for their business.  If they really want to do well at it, they invest time and money in publications, conferences, workshops, certifications, and subscriptions to online learning (like  These artists typically charge as low as $75 for a brand new artist, to $200 per hour.  Most in my area are around $100-$175 per hour but it depends on the market somewhat.

…[inserted the story of my face painting career here]…

As professional face painters we are constantly struggling to educate our clients about our worth as professionals and face painting as an actual profession.  Those who fall in the 1st category are extremely damaging to our business and our market, and unfortunately can cause us to back track a lot in this “education.”  We work very hard to explain the fact that this is a profession, that there are certain standards that should be followed, and why we are worth what we charge.  There is also a lot of time involved in events outside of the hours that are spent actually painting, and most new painters don’t think to consider all of this time and expense. Here is a post I did explaining how a $100/hour rate doesn’t mean the artist is pocketing $100/hour:

Many who fall in category 1 simply don’t think about these things. They aren’t aware that by charging so little, their “extra cash” is actually eating into someone else’s only paycheck.  They don’t make much at it, so they can’t justify putting in the needed investment in quality, safe supplies and insurance. Sadly, many even use homemade face paint with things that are not meant to be worn on the skin for a long period of time, or worse yet, they use tempera, acrylic or other “non toxic” craft paints which can cause horrible reactions.  Here’s a blog post with more info on that topic and why it’s SO important to use the right products:  Our kids’ health and safety is worth a little research for sure! Over time they can learn, of course, but in the meantime, we are left to pick up the pieces, get our clients back, and remind them why they get what they pay for.

SO, all of that being said (sorry so long…you can tell I’m passionate about this!), I would absolutely jump at the opportunity to be in your article if the intent is to not just encourage moms to do this on the side, but encourage them to be sure to at a minimum:

– Purchase ONLY FDA Compliant face paints
– Use ONLY glitters that are FDA compliant for cosmetic use (metallic craft glitters can scratch the cornea!!!)
– Research what the going rate is in their market and charge in that range. If you want to be cheaper because you are new, let your clients know that this is an introductory rate while you get some experience, and then raise your rates as you get better.
– Purchase liability insurance as soon as you can afford it, at least if you expect to keep face painting, because many larger events actually require this for you to paint.

(I could give a lot more tips for beginners and things to do, watch out for, etc, but these are the bare minimum anyone should consider)

I absolutely love to help out beginners to get them the right start!!  In fact, years ago when I opened my online store I put together a little starter set that has a small palette of quality, FDA compliant paints (that can be re-filled, unlike the cheap ones at the craft stores), brushes, a sheet of designs, and a book I wrote full of tips for those who have never painted a face. It was meant as a solution to those who either couldn’t afford to hire me, or had been asked to volunteer at their kid’s school and didn’t know where to start. It gives them a great start with safe supplies and helpful instructions:  If you scroll down to the next package deal, this is what I recommend for those really wanting to turn this into a real business.  Beginners also will find a wealth of FREE information on my “learn” page, …and by subscribing to my free monthly e-newsletters.

Anyway, if this sounds like the direction your article will be going in, I’d love to do an interview! …..”

I thought I was pretty clear and thorough, and had my bases covered! Just 10 minutes after I sent this email, I was sent a reply that stated she had already interviewed another face painter, and she no longer needed to talk to me as she had enough information to use between the two of us. I was told that she would “focus on being a quality face painter,” and that was that.

2 months later I saw a photo of this article show up on Facebook, shared by SillyFarm, since they too were mentioned in it.  I was excited at first, and then saw the headline…I fount it to be really a punch in the gut to professional face painters in general.

Since my name and my company were quoted in this article, I felt it important to clarify MY position on some of the things mentioned in the article:

  • “…you can earn up to $100 for the first hour and $40 to $50 for each subsequent hour…”  I’ve been painting professionally for 20 years, and not only have I never heard a price structure with a 60% discount for the 2nd hour, but on another note, I didn’t even charge $100 per hour until I was going on 18 years of experience.  Most painters actually require a 2 hour minimum, and I’ve never met an artist with such a strange structure as this.  Secondly, a beginner face painter shouldn’t be charging $100 per hour.  While under-cutting is seriously frowned upon in our industry, a new painter should get to know her local competition and the going rates.  She should start out at a rate that matches her experience and skill, make sure clients know that this is an introductory rate while she gains experience, and then work her way up to the going rate. It really does help EVERYONE in the market this way.
  • “…buy a simple face-painting kit at Party City…” I would never recommend Party City for face paints.  This is probably the place your most likely to find those super cheap “Made in China” sets that can’t be refilled, which a little research will show you are less regulated and more likely to cause reactions.  And the word “craft store” should not even be mentioned without clarifying that you should only buy actual face paint…too many beginners use tempera or acrylic which is dangerous! I WOULD recommend that if you go to a craft store, you look for Snazaroo because it at least is a legitimate, safe face paint.  I often suggest that newbies and volunteers take their 40% off coupon to Michaels for a set of Snazaroo if they are on a super tight budget. Not the best, but still safe!
  • Do street fairs and “get a lot of exposure.”  There it is, folks…the “e” word that makes us all throw up in our mouths a little bit.  If you’ve been a professional face painter for a month you’ve gotten requests to work for “exposure.” Unpaid gigs get you more unpaid gigs.  There is nothing wrong with gaining exposure, we all need that! And I know the article mentions paying a booth fee to do this, it does not say we should paint for free which so many clients ask us to do.  But, I suggest that you attend events yourself first and make sure they are actually well attended, and a place where people go intending to spend money on their kids, before you can even think about making a profit.  Also, make SURE there are not already artists there painting!! Taking an established hourly paying gig from an artist who is there every year by offering it for free or offering to pay for a booth will gain you one mediocre gig and many local face painter enemies.  Play nice, it really does pay off!!

Okay, that about sums up my rant. I mainly just wanted my original email to get out there so that everyone can see all of my recommendations, not just the tiny snippet that was published. 

As you already know, I LOVE to help out new artists!! If you are a mom looking to start up face painting on the side, please feel free to email me any time. I would love to give you any advice and help needed, recommend a place to start with products, etc. Also, feel free to peruse my “learn” page which is FULL of sound advice and step-by-step’s!

5 thoughts on ““Ka-Ching! Face Paint Your Way to Extra Cash!”

  1. Thank you so much for posting the details of the "behind the scenes" action (if you will) LOL I really appreciate it. I have been a professional face painter for 2 years and I come to your site very often for tips and ideas! It's people like you that really keep me motivated to keep going because you JUST GET IT!!! Thank You! Much Love Bee Bee

  2. My first reaction to 'Ka-ching', was frustration and anger that another 'hack' was tossing out easy, 'how-to' information on becoming a face painter. I am glad I read the rest of your post – I have admiration and respect for how you dealt with her and followed up for 'us'.

    I used to be a real reporter before I became a face painter and if that 'reporter' read your email before writing the story, then she is as much of a hack as the $40/per hour stay-at-home moms undercutting professional face painters.

    That is not how a real reporter should have handled the information she was provided, but then again Woman's World is not a real news publication!

    Natalie 🙂

  3. My first reaction to 'Ka-ching', was frustration and anger that another 'hack' was tossing out easy, 'how-to' information on becoming a face painter. I am glad I read the rest of your post – I have admiration and respect for how you dealt with her and followed up for 'us'.

    I used to be a real reporter before I became a face painter and if that 'reporter' read your email before writing the story, then she is as much of a hack as the $40/per hour stay-at-home moms undercutting professional face painters.

    That is not how a real reporter should have handled the information she was provided, but then again Woman's World is not a real news publication!

    Natalie 🙂

  4. I was reading about ka-ching on movies that was in Woaman's World in 2014 (old magazine) and found your post. My daughter likes her movies. I Have done some mystery shopping but a small amount. Anyway, your post reminds me of an article they had one time on a "diet" cookie and when I wrote to the person who made it, he replied it was a different recipe than he had. I still like the magazine but it can be disappointing when they change. American Express Travel Magazine did an article in the 1980s about a museum I worked and volunteered; it was a foreign museum to all of us. Get the facts straight for the readers. I know kids love the face paintings.

  5. Yes, yes and yes!!! Articles like this do so much damage. Also painters that face paint as a hobby or work for free or for tips not only drive down the price for professionals but damage our credibility. I was a professional artist and designer long before I became a face painter. I did festivals all over my state just to get myself out there. It worked. I've paid my dues. Back then, I had to pay them to work(booth fees). Paint by the face. You have to earn back your booth fee before you start making money. I still do one local festival. It's high traffic and no booth fee. I do really well and get a lot of gigs out of it. I did our local county fair at a discount four years in a row. The fifth year someone just making money on the side, paid for a booth and charged by the face. They went for it. Totally free for them plus they made some money from the booth fee. I've learned that If I don't value myself, no one else will either. Discounts don't guarantee loyalty. I charge what I charge. I have experience, ongoing education, liability insurance and top of the line FDA approved paints and equipment. I sell myself as entertainment and expect to get paid my
    rate. Prices are not negotiable unless a business intends to contract us on a regular basis. I use a service contract and have to be paid in full before the work starts. When people approach me with FREE or exposure, my reply starts with, "this is how I make my living. It's a business" What we suggest for small budgets is a business sponsor." Works almost every time. Some deals you just have to walk away from. Thank you for standing up for our PROFESSION!!!

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