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Yes, this IS a “REAL Job!”

If you’ve been a professional face painter for any amount of time, chances are you know what it’s like to tell people what you do, then brace yourself for the most common reactions:

“Oh, so what’s your real job?”  

“So that’s really a thing?!”


[ deer in headlights … crickets … ]

Or maybe someone you know has seen photos of your work, not knowing it’s your job, and exclaimed, “you could get PAID to do this!”  (yes, yes I do, and and very well, thank you!)

I know that all of these comments I hear come from completely well meaning friends and acquaintances.  I try to remind myself that this is just evidence of the fact that I have been SO blessed to be able to turn my passion into my profession, getting paid to do something that people consider too fun to be a “real” job.

However, I thought I’d take this opportunity today to hopefully open some of these people’s eyes to just how big and far reaching the field of face and body art is!

So, here is my ever growing list of things you can do in the face and body art world…

You can entertain at events.
Starting with the obvious, this is the one that most people already know, and many think our profession stops here. I have painted, twisted, and done henna at birthday parties, company picnics, customer appreciation events, weddings, school carnivals, city festivals, county fairs, family reunions, holiday celebrations, senior lock-in’s, baby blessings, baby showers, amusement parks, restaurants, sporting events…the list goes on and on.  But while entertaining at events alone can be plenty good income by itself, the need for our talents does not stop there!

You can create iconic movie characters.
Can you imagine any of these characters without their makeup? Movie makeup and special FX is an entire thriving industry on it’s own.

You can be published in magazines. (or be a publisher!)
Yes, there are entire publications dedicated to the face and body art world!  Some have stopped printing, while other new ones continue to appear.  There are print magazines and electronic magazines.  I’ve had my art, step by step’s and articles published in magazines from across the globe, both in industry magazines and mainstream magazines and newspapers. While I haven’t drawn any paychecks directly from being published, I do put some value on the exposure it gets me.  (Yes, I know, if you’re a professional painter, the word “exposure” may have made you throw up in your mouth just a little bit.  I can promise you that sending in your already created artwork for publication that you’ve already been paid to create is NOT the same as being asked to paint for hours at an event in exchange for exposure!) 😉 If nothing else, it gives me some fun things to share on my press page!

You can do costume makeup and private sessions.
I have done many private sessions for Halloween costume makeup for those attending parties or entering competitions, and theater makeup for those performing in plays and skits.

You can kick start the zombie apocalypse.
A face painter can make pretty good money taking advantage of zombie fan events like zombie pub crawls.

You can paint at mock crime scenes.
Some artists are hired to paint realistic wounds on those acting out crime scenes for police training.

You can be the life of a themed wedding.
Some brides and grooms really go all out with their themed weddings, requesting that their entire wedding party be transformed into characters to fit! I know of at least one wedding in my area that was held around Halloween and the bride, groom and attendants were all painted with sugar skulls. Check out this work done for a Grinch themed wedding around Christmas time, by Melissa Sarieka Almariei!

You can help people live out their cosplay fantasies.
Those who are really serious about their cosplay hire body painters to attend events and win competitions.

Your work can be the focus of a huge, corporate advertising campaign.
AT&T’s ads containing hand paintings were voted “America’s favorite magazine ad” by consumers. Check out all of the incredible ads here.  Who else has used body painting for advertising campaigns?  Try Ford Motor Company, Worldwide Wildlife Federation, Gold’s Gym, Kimberly-Klark Professional, and several more, highlighted here.

You can get (and give) “coverage” in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue.

Yes, some models wear nothing but painted on bikinis, but you can’t argue that this isn’t great “exposure” for the body painting industry! (Yes, the images below are all nothing but paint!)

You can paint your way onto a cruise ship.
Many artists entertain on cruise ships.  For just an hour or two of painting per day on at-sea days only, face painters and balloon twisters can go on a cruise with a guest for only the administrative fee of about $45 per night, per couple.  I’m personally on a list of approved entertainers to do this, but haven’t been able to take advantage of this opportunity yet since having kids!

You can be a reality TV star.
Yes, there are actually reality TV shows about body painters! Check out Skin Wars , Face Off, and  Naked Vegas!

You can enter competitions.
I personally love competitions because they force me to paint things I never would have thought to paint otherwise.  However, if you find the right competitions and do well in them, you can not only get some publicity, but win some nice prizes!

A few of my entries to Illusion Magazine’s contests over the past couple years

So what ELSE can you do beyond the physical PAINTING aspects of this industry??
There are many more ways to make money in this industry beyond being hired hourly for the painting itself!

You can travel the globe teaching at conventions.
Most conventions don’t pay your way to come teach, but some do.  Many artists who teach at conferences also hold workshops before, during or after the conference for extra fees.
East Coast Convention, Connecticut
Face And Body Art International Convention, Florida
Face Painting and Body Art Convention, St Louis, MO
Kapital Kidvention, Washington, DC
BAYFaba, San Francisco, CA
JAMvention, Belgium
Australian Body Art Awards and Convention, Melbourne
UK Face and Body Art Convention
World Bodypainting Festival, Austria 
Festival of Colors, Cologne
BodyCon Dallas

There have been many others around the world that have come and gone, but as far as I know all of these are still an annual event. These are just the face and body art ones that come to mind for me…there are countless others for balloon twisting, henna, and other forms of artistic entertainment!

So many conventions! I’m SO excited to be teaching at JAMVention this fall!

You can publish books.
I’ve self published 6 of my own books, but there are a multitude of amazing books available today on the subject of face and body painting.

A few of my books!

You can run an entertainment agency.
I also work as an agent, sending other local artists to events I can’t attend, or contracting them to work alongside me at events that require multiple artists.

You can become a retailer.
10 years ago I opened up my online store,  Not only do I ship supplies and tools to artists all over the world, but my site also serves as a place for artists to find inspiration, articles, e-newsletters, events, and more.

Some of the hundreds of products I sell

You can create your own products.
With my background in industrial design, I constantly have product ideas running through my head.  So far the ones I have actually developed myself and now sell are print related, as they are easiest for me to have made myself…PainterTemplates practice templates, photo prop boards, custom word menu design, and pocket balloon menu cards are among the products that I’ve created and now sell.  I know other artists who have designed and sell their own stencils, brushes, and more!

word menus, photo prop boards, balloon menus, practice sheets

You can be a business coach.
My wonderful and talented friend Lori Hurley, for example, is incredibly gifted in the business side of entertainment.  (Hopefully she doesn’t mind me tooting her horn!) She travels the country teaching others about the business side of our art at conventions, and selling her books, and last year put together an incredibly valuable business conference in our area that I had the opportunity to teach at. There are SO many artists out there who have their art form down, but struggle with the business side. Who better to advise them than someone who is in the same type of business?

I loved speaking at the MN Family Entertainers & Artists’ Business Conference last year!

And what MORE can you get than MONEY?
Yes, the point of this blog is to educate people that you CAN make a good living in this industry. However, sometimes the biggest and most rewarding things come from the things we do out of the goodness of our hearts!  These are a few of my most favorite ways to use my talent…

You can spread the message of salvation.
I personally have taken my face painting and balloon twisting on a missions trip, as have many other artists I have met.  It’s amazing to see the reaction our art brings to kids in other countries!  There is also a thing called “gospel painting.”

You can help people feel beautiful.
Face and body artists have given the gift of feeling beautiful to so many people fighting cancer and other conditions like alopecia that cause a loss of hair.  I’ve also seen so many amazing paintings people have done on women who have lost their breasts to cancer.  Check out the Turning Heads Art Crown Project, the Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project, and Henna Heals.  (These are not always done for free, but regardless, the beauty and confidence this brings is priceless!)

You can help people grieve.
I once had a little girl ask me to paint a heart with wings on her cheek, because her Mommy had just gone to heaven.  Last summer a little girl had me paint a beagle in memory of her dog who was just put down.  I’ve painted the pregnant bellies of women who have suffered the loss of previous babies.  Many people have henna done to help with their grieving process, as the gradual fading of henna represents their letting go of something or someone. 

You can make children smile.
Seriously, what can be better than having a job that makes children happy?  We all live for that “mirror moment” when a child sees their artwork for the first time! Many artists also volunteer in children’s hospitals, and I hope to do this in the near future as well!

Yes, face painting indeed IS even MORE than a “thing!”

So really, if you are interested in becoming a face painter, the question isn’t whether you can get paid to do this.  The question is, in which of the many different branches of face and body art would you most enjoy getting paid to do this?  How motivated are you to make something of it, and what do you need to do to get there?  If you have a natural talent for art, and an insane amount of self discipline and motivation, chances are you can turn your hobby into a business.

If you are a beginner looking into making face painting a career, here are a few articles you may benefit from:

3 thoughts on “Yes, this IS a “REAL Job!”

  1. You're a GREAT Teacher!

  2. You're a GREAT Teacher!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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