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How much paint do I need?

One of my most frequently asked questions that I get from my customers is, “how many faces can I paint with this set?” or, “I’m painting [x number of] kids; how much paint do I need?”

Many other online retailers will give you a number of how many faces their palette will do.  I totally understand, as I know it helps you to estimate how much you need, and they would probably get this same question over and over if they did not assign some sort of number. However, realistically it is impossible to give a real solid estimate for many reasons.  There are many factors that affect how long your paint will stretch:

Size of the designs. 

Are you doing small “cheek art,” partial faces, or full face designs?  Smaller cheek art will make your paint last MUCH longer than full faces, for obvious reasons.  Covering an entire face with white will take up probably the same amount of paint that doing 15-20 unicorns or rainbow clouds on smaller cheek designs.  Even the size of your cheek art itself can make a huge difference.  Do you paint small, or do you make your designs as large as you can to fill the cheek?  Over hundreds of faces, that can make a big difference.  Here are some examples of the differences among these levels of designs:

Cheek Art
Partial Face
Full Face

Range of colors in your designs. 

Are you displaying a board of designs that use all colors of the rainbow?  Or are you doing a Christmas event where you’ll be using a lot more green and red than other colors?  If you’re using all colors relatively evenly, a rainbow palette should work great as a starting point for many events.  If you’re planning to use a lot more of certain colors, larger, individual cakes will ensure you don’t run out, or a few extra palette refills of the colors you’re using most.  And keep in mind, even if your design menu reflects a wide range of colors, you still can’t guarantee you’ll use them evenly.  I can’t tell you how many times I do one unicorn, and then every girl after that wants the same thing, making me use a lot more white than other colors.

How much water you use.  

Being that the paints are water based, you’ll be using water on your brushes and sponges to apply it.  The amount of water you use when you paint, coupled with the above factors, can mean the difference of your paints lasting through one gig or through a year’s worth of gigs.  More water will stretch your paints farther, but give you less vivid and opaque colors.  Less water can make your paints bright and bold, but run out quicker.  Every artist will have their own unique ratio that they like to work with.

What type of paint you use. 

With some brands, metallic and UV paints can require more water and more paint to get them to a good covering consistency than the regular standard colors, because they are made up of different ingredients. If you use these more sparingly as accents like I do, they will last you years.  But if you are trying to paint a tin man and make his entire face look like silver, you could easily use up most of a large cake, whereas the same size cake of a standard blue (maybe you’re dressing up as Blue Man Group for Halloween?), could cover several people’s faces, arms and hands.

How many artists are painting.  

It would logistically be very hard for more than two artists to share a palette.  You could theoretically have one artist on either side of a table with one palette, and then you’ll have your “subject” in front of each artist.  Having had to share paints in the past myself before, I’d prefer to have my own palette to work from.  But, at the bare minimum, if you’re doing a charity event with low budget and can’t spring for a palette for each artist, I’d suggest at least 1 palette per 2 artists.  Some artists may use more paint than others as well due to the other factors I mentioned, so increasing the amount of paint you have on hand will help ensure you have enough.  Every artist needs their own set of brushes as well…you do not want one artist sitting there painting nobody because he or she is waiting for the outline brush from another artist…otherwise there is no point in having more than one painter.

“So how do I estimate then?!”

So, you may be saying, now what?  How am I supposed to estimate what I need?!  Many other face paint supply websites will claim some number of faces you can paint with their sets, but the reality is now obvious, that it really depends on too many things to give an accurate number.  Just know that these numbers are only estimates, based on one person who is making an assumption about how and what you will be painting.

Here are my recommendations to help you decide whether you need a palette set, or the larger individual colors…

Get Refillable Palettes if:

• You are doing a one-time gig, helping out at your local school or church event. (I also put together a Smile Painter Set package for people in your situation, which includes instruction, a design sample sheet, and brushes)

• You already have a full professional kit but would like to play around with a bunch of new colors and affects before investing in the larger cakes.

• You just want to have a set of quality paints around to do your kids’ faces every year for Halloween or for their birthdays. Any of the palettes are a great option for you. I’d recommend starting with a set of the bright, standard colors in a 6 to 12 color set.  If you want to add more excitement to your selection, you can always try out the metallics or fluorescent makeup later.  You can even build your own set and mix and match, depending on the brand.  You can always purchase more refill cakes to replace any that run out down the road!

Get the large, individual cakes if:

• You are planning to paint at a very large event with hundreds of kids

• You are only going to be using a few colors on everyone (example: painting only with the school colors at a football game)

• You are a professional who goes through a lot of paint. (also check out our Business Starter Kit!”)

• You don’t need the palette packaging itself and you refill your own paint containers.

Get a mix of BOTH palettes and large cakes if:

• You are a professional who wants a small, portable set (palette boxes) but use enough that you’ll be refilling them a lot.  (You can buy the larger cakes of each color to keep at home, and refill your little palette box as needed out of that “stash,” saving money per ounce over the palette refills.)

• You are doing a small gig but plan on using more of certain colors, such as more red and green at a holiday event or school colors at a football game. (Get a multi-color palette, plus add larger cakes of the colors you expect to use a lot more of)

Add these other items if desired:

• Brushes: I’d recommend a set for each artist at minimum: a #5 and #2 round to cover both larger areas and outlining, for smaller designs and basic cheek art. Add in a 3/4″ flat brush if you are planning on using any one strokes, and a larger round brush for full faces.

• Sponges: If you plan to do full-face designs or do quick rainbows with a rainbow palette, a sponge will cover very large areas very quickly.

• Glitter: If you want to add some sparkle, the “multi” and “blue violet” work great on every color of paint, but there are many colors if you want to have a lot of fun with it!

• Books and Design MenusIf you’ve just started getting into face painting and need a little more instruction on how to paint and face painting specifically

Practice Head or board: A practice head or practice boards is great for practice, whether you’re just starting out or are a professional looking to perfect your designs on your own schedule without relying on a willing “subject!”

If you’re still left wondering after reading this post, feel free to comment here with your questions or shoot me an email…I love to help!

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Learning to Face Paint: Where Do I Start?

Need a little help getting started face painting? Been asked to face paint at your church or school event and you just don’t know where to begin? This blog post is for you. I’ve been face painting professionally for over 19 years and love helping others learn how too. 

What Supplies Do I Need to Get?

It is easy to get overwhelmed with all of the products available on the market today.  The most important thing is to make sure you get quality paints that are specifically designed for skin.  For a really easy way to get started, check out our “Smile Painter Set” package deal, which includes quality makeup, brushes, a design sheet and a book full of tips and tricks! But if you’re interested in picking out all of the supplies yourself individually, read on for some suggestions and advice!


A few things to consider when shopping for paint:

  • Safety should be your TOP deciding factor, not price. Stay away from cheap craft store paints made in China.
  • Never, EVER use craft paints or acrylic paints on skin! Here’s why. “Non-Toxic” does NOT mean safe for use on skin!
  • Use only professional makeup that is FDA approved for use on skin. (Kryolan, Wolfe, TAG, Paradise, Snazaroo, Cameleon, Mehron, etc…)

Check out this blog post for more information on how much paint is needed, and how long it will last.  For someone starting out or just doing a small event here and there, I would recommend a multi-color palette. These sets enable you to try a variety of colors without spending a fortune. When you run out of a color, simply purchase a refill and keep using your set for years to come! Or, if you plan on using a lot of certain colors, you can purchase larger cakes of colors individually that will last a LONG time!


A few things to consider when shopping for brushes:


You will need some designs for the children to choose from that you are comfortable painting. I prefer to use a board or sign that is on display so that everyone in line can see it and have their design chosen when it’s their turn. Start by displaying only designs that you are comfortable painting. I have several heavily laminated design sheets available that work great…they are small enough to put in your tote bag of supplies, and sturdy enough to wash off at the end of your event!

 Never painted before? Then I’d recommend getting my companion book of full-color photos showing you how to paint every design on my Classic design sheets in 6 steps or less!

If you’d like to design your own menu and don’t want to tie yourself down to an exact image on a visual menu yet, we have a service just for you.  Choose the type of designs you’d like and we will create a custom word menu for you to print out!

Other Supplies:

  • Glitter: Not a requirement, but glitter sure does add a lot to a design! ONLY use glitter that is approved for cosmetic use by the FDA. Metallic craft glitters can scratch the cornea and are extremely dangerous!
  • Rhinestones & Adhesive: Definitely optional, but if you are doing a fancy princess party, they are a HIT!
  • Split Cakes: If you’re familiar with one-stroke painting, rainbow cakes can really add that WOW factor in little time! If you’re not familiar with this technique and want to learn, check out our book, “One Stroke Face Painting!”
  • Mirror: To show the kids the finished product. Bring an extra in case it breaks! Or better yet, get an unbreakable mirror.
  • Wet wipes: In case of mistakes and to clean your hands. Makeup remover wipes work especially well!
  • Water jar: To rinse your brushes and wet the paint.  We sell a variety of great brush tubs with ridges in the bottom, which really help get your brushes clean!  But to be honest, you can get by just fine with any old jar or cup of water!
  • Towels, Chairs, Hair Clips, etc…

How Do I Learn How to Face Paint?

We have many resources available at Paintertainment:

Feel free to email me any time as well! I love to help fellow artists!

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My Top 5 Favorite Brushes!

What’s your favorite brush? It’s a question that of course comes with as many answers as there are artists…it’s a super personal preference. However, I thought I’d share my own personal preference with you today! Here are 5 of my current favorite brushes…

Loew-Cornell Round brushes are what I use for most of my painting. Take good care of your tips and you can do main color areas AND linework with ONE brush. I love the 7000 series brushes…they have been replaced with the new 7000C series, which are the same bristles but now a wood handle instead of acrylic.  I loved the acrylic because it doesn’t expand and contract when wet, loosening the ferrule over time…but the bristles are really the most important thing. So I now use the 7000C series. A #0-#1 for outlining, and a #4-#5 is my main workhorse!! When I started out face painting I assumed sable bristles were the best, because they are real animal hair, and were the most expensive. However, with experience I learned that synthetic fibers work better for face painting…they hold up to the rigors of our work and they hold their shape the best!

TAG’s #12 3/4″ Flat Brush is my all time fave for one strokes!  The 3/4″ width is designed to fit perfectly in one stroke cakes, and their length holds just the right amount of paint, and gives me enough room to flex and really load up the brush well.

Loew-Cornell Rake Fan brush is great for applying festival glitter and pixie paint, and I love it for painting textures like fur! (as seen in my Realism book) Unfortunately Loew-Cornell has discontinued this brush too, since being bought out by Newell corp, so I am on the hunt for a good replacement. I like this one because the bristles are really stiff and spread out, and the stiffness enables me to use it for stippling effects too.

Cameleon Blending Brush I use ALL the time when I’m doing anything realistic…specifically the small one. When I first got it I thought, “woah this thing is way too small!” But it’s NOT! It’s perfect for those realistic drop shadows that I paint under jewelry designs, masks, etc. when I really need good control, but a fluffy, poofy brush. (You’ll see me using this in my Jewelry book) The larger one is great for blending too, and I use more in my larger body paintings.

Cameleon Petal Brush is awesome for those double dip flower petals!! I also use it to create any triangular or short teardrop shapes, water drops flying off of a shark, etc.

These are just a few of my faves…there are probably 5-10 others that I use often too, but these are probably my favorites to date. What are your favorite brushes? I may do another post with some of my others down the road! Thanks for stopping by, and happy painting! 🙂

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How to Make Unicorn Horns for Face Painting

Three-dimensional unicorn horns are a fun way to really up your game!

Horns made of air dry clay, set in gem clusters made of glitter fabric paint and acrylic rhinestones

We’ve just put together a video to show you how to create your own! Find all the supplies you need to make horns AND gem clusters right here in our shop! Watch the video below, or via our YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out on our next one!


Here are a few pro tips for applying unicorn horns that are listed in the video:

– For the best results, clean the skin first with alcohol. (especially in sweaty environments or oily skin)
– While the original Pros-Aide is great for glitter tattoos that we want to last for days, we recommend the new Pros-Aide II for horns and gems. It adheres just as well, but breaks down more easily when cleaning, which makes it easier for parents to remove the residue when the horn is taken off!
– Apply your Pros-Aide II to both the gem cluster AND the skin. Allow it to dry, becoming clear and tacky to the touch, before attaching the horn to the skin.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy painting!

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How To Make Confetti Cakes!

Do you have some dried up, old, or seldom used paint lying around and just taking up space? Don’t toss it out! Turn it into a fun, new confetti cake! Or, do like I did below, and make a whole palette of them! I turned an empty Tag palette into an assortment of confetti cakes, including bright colors, a neon cake, blues, greens, pastels and metallics!
Confetti cakes are great for adding fun textures and color combinations to your designs. Here is a video of how to create your own! Scroll down for some examples of what you can do with them!
Here are just a few ideas of things you can use confetti cakes for. But, the possibilities really are endless…
A pastel cake works great for Easter eggs! Just load a round sponge and pinch the top half to create an egg shape!
Really any color combination of confetti cake can make a cool looking gemstone. Want to learn more about painting realistic looking jewelry? Check out my book, “Jewelry for Face & Body Artists!”

Lollipops are a fun design that you can use confetti cakes for! Make it even more festive with some chunky glitter gel!
A confetti cake made up of different greens works great for creating a scaly texture for your snakes, dragons, dinosaurs and Ninja turtles!
Another example with the green cake…a turtle shell!
Want to learn more? Be sure to check out our “learn” page which is constantly growing with free tutorials, step-by-steps and articles! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and YouTube, and sign up for our FREE monthly e-newsletters, which always include a step-by-step AND a coupon code for the shop! 
Thanks for stopping by, and happy painting!
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How to Revive Your Old Brushes!

When artists tell me that they are having trouble achieving good linework, more often than not I find that the culprit is the brush. Many new face painters start out with cheap brushes from their local craft store…which is fine to start with, but everyone quickly learns that good, quality brushes are worth every penny! However, even the most careful professional artist who treat their brushes with utmost care will find that they eventually come to a point where they become split, splayed out and even twisted.

If this has happened to you, don’t throw them away just yet! While no brush lasts forever, there are ways to revive those splayed old bristles and make them useable for a while longer. Here’s a video showing two ways that I have found online and have had success with so far!

Tried these methods and they are still split and splayed? You can always donate them to an artistic kid, and then pop on over to to get yourself a brand new set! Also be sure to check out our other post on how to clean and care for your brushes!

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St. Patricks Day Face Painting Ideas!

St Patrick’s day is just around the corner!  Here are a few fun designs to inspire you! I do plan to add to this collection over the years, so be sure to check back every St Patrick’s day! Like what you see? Make sure to like and follow us on Facebook to see all my latest designs as I post them!

Here’s a fun leprechaun feet design! Ever worried that by adding more you’ll get too busy or go too overboard? Here’s a tip: take photos of your designs as you go along. That way if you think you’ve gone a tad overboard, you can “rewind” back to a previous state! It’s like a real life undo button! I took a photo above, and then below you can see how I went crazy with the bling!!

This one above uses Glitter Glaze for the drippy mask base, and it is then outlined (gold) and dotted (colored “gems”) with Liquid Bling! Up in the rainbow and surrounding the leprechaun I have used some Rainbow Pride Festival Glitter and Lucky Stars Pixie Paint! The little gold buckles on his shoes are also created with gold liquid bling!

This design above is super quick and simple, yet still impressive as it incorporates split cakes (I’m using Global summer crush here) and also chunky glitter! The glitter I used here for the gold pouring out of the pot is gold Pixie Paint “Lucky Stars” , and the rainbow I added some Rainbow Pride Festival Glitter!
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…you can find a step by step of the above design in our March 2019 e-newsletter! Not a subscriber? Download past issues and find out how to subscribe here!

This smiley shamrock design above would be a great place to stick on some 3-dimensional googly eyes! I like to use the new Pros-Aide II which still sticks just as good as the original, but is easier to remove when it’s time to wash off. The original is great for glitter tattoos, but you don’t necessarily want this stuff to stick for weeks on your forehead, haha! Here I’ve used Global’s “Leanne’s Lollipop” for my rainbow, and then added some more “Rainbow Pride” Festival Glitter sprinkling down underneath!

Below is a more unique take on the pot-o-gold design, with an angle of the rainbow that you don’t normally see. This one enables you to put more focus on the pot of gold itself. Try blinging out the gold with some gemstones or gold liquid bling!

Here’s a little step by step with a list of tools I used!

A quick, fun design that looks great with some metallic gold makeup and rainbow cakes!

I always love cheek art, because it’s so versatile. You can put it on little hands and arms for kids who are nervous about getting painted on their face, yet you can turn it into a forehead or eye design by expanding it with stencil pattern backgrounds, chunky glitter and more! Here are a few little illustrations to start from that you can make big or small!

Here are a few larger designs I did myself just for fun….
This one I did for a St Patrick’s day contest/challenge online!
A St. Patrick’s themed dragon!
This one I painted for “National Cereal Day!” Look back into my blog history throughout the year 2017 and you can see every one of my daily posts, corresponding to that day’s “national day of whatever!”

I hope you all have a super fun St. Patrick’s Day! Happy painting!

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So you want to BE an Agent…

I am working to copy some of our past e-newsletter articles over to the blog to make them even easier for people to find! This particular article can be found in the May 2017 issue. Not a subscriber? You can learn how to subscribe and download past issues by clicking HERE!

So You Want to BE An Agent…

For my third installment on the subject of agents, this time we’ll briefly discuss some pro’s and con’s of acting as an agent, as well as some of the things you may have to consider that you don’t as an individual artist. (if you haven’t read my previous articles, check out “Finding a good agent” and “Keeping a good agent“)

Working as an agent is certainly not for the faint of heart.  It’s one of those jobs that looks so much greener from the other side of the fence, but once you jump over, you may likely find your foot land in a hidden pile of dog poo! Haha! For this reason, it is important to do your research and carefully weigh the pros, cons, and responsibilities involved with being an agent. (And when I say an agent, I mean the “good” kind I defined earlier)  Here are some things to consider!

The Pro’s

Your capacity increases

Hiring out other artists does increase the number of gigs you are able to cover.  (Though keep in mind that this brings with it many other cons associated with juggling multiple artists)
You can make more money

In the end, you can end up with a larger dollar amount in your pocket at the end of the year.  Whether it is enough to be worth all the extra hours you’re not paid hourly for to manage multiple artists though, is highly arguable!
You can have more family time

I do enjoy the ability to send other artists to gigs when I have a family event to attend instead! However, this does come with the constant possibility of someone not showing up or something going wrong, potentially requiring me to still drop what I’m doing to fix it. 
The Con’s
Less Painty More Desky

You will spend a LOT more time on the less fun part of the job than you will painting as an agent.  This includes writing, sending, and chasing down artist contracts. (yes, you MUST have written contracts for your artists!)  Writing, sending and chasing down payments from vendors.  Fielding any and all emails and phone calls from clients, calming frantic clients, and smoothing over disasters.  Getting recaps from all artists, thanking the clients, paying the artists, paying the artists again when they lose a check or move without telling you, getting reviews and ratings from clients, and following up with clients the next year in hopes of getting the gig again.
Then there’s just the business side that isn’t directly related to events…advertising, marketing, maintaining websites and social media accounts, responding to requests for quotes, etc etc.  If you don’t get enjoyment out of the administrative side of your job, agenting is definitely NOT for you!
Meet Uncle Sam

As an agent you are required to provide a 1099-MISC form to every independent contractor whom you pay $600 or more during any given calendar year.  This can be quite an undertaking, especially if you haven’t already collected social security numbers when originally hiring artists.  Bookkeeping in general becomes much more complicated and time consuming when acting as an agent, and more important.
Handing Over Your Reputation

It is hard to express how difficult it is to hand over my baby to another artist. It is no reflection of their talent or capabilities of course, but more about the decades of blood, sweat and tears I have poured into making my business what it is today.  The thought of one person having the power to hurt my business’ reputation is sortof terrifying for a new agent! Heck, it’s terrifying for a seasoned agent!  This is where you need to ensure that you are able to manage the expectations of both clients and artists, and handle sticky situations with grace.
Other Considerations
Cash Flow

Suddenly cash flow becomes incredibly important when you are responsible for paying artists.  If you’ll remember from our first agent article, a good agent doesn’t make you wait until they get paid before you get paid.  Making your artists wait to be paid more than a couple weeks for work they’ve already done is really unacceptable.  As an agent it is imperative that you either require payment up front from your clients, or manage your money in such a way that you are always able to pay your artists promptly when they perform for you.  Ticking off your artists will only hurt you and your business in the end, so this is important!
Your Actual Income 

Many artists who have had bad experiences with agents claim that agents are just getting rich off of their work.  Let me tell you, this is oh SO not the case.
For the sake of easy math, let’s say as an agent you charge $100 per hour, and pay your artist $80 per hour for a 1 hour birthday party.  For that 1 hour party you are spending a conservative estimate of 2-4 hours on this gig, which makes you a whopping $5-$10 per hour.  The wide range is affected by things out of your control….how difficult a client is, how difficult an artist is, etc.  Some clients you have to go back and fourth several times to get it booked. Some artists you have to send and re send contracts to get them signed. Some paychecks you have to re-write as an artist moved and didn’t give you their new address. The list of variables goes on and on.  Then you have to subtract the money you spend to GET those gigs that you give to other artists…your website costs, advertising, gig site bidding fees, or whatever you use to bring in business.
You will be spending a lot more time on paperwork and people management than you will on painting as an agent, and with no set hourly rate like your artists receive. Though as long as you get enjoyment out of these aspects of business and can find a good balance, it can be worth your while!  My suggestion is to start small, yet do it right from the beginning.  Don’t cut corners on bookkeeping or contracts.  It’s much easier to get the process down early on when you have 1 or 2 artists you frequently hire, rather than dozens!  Starting small will enable you to see if being an agent is for you before it consumes your business.  In a future issue of Wet Paint Magazine, I plan on doing a more in depth article on being an agent. I’d love to hear your experiences on the topic! Feel free to email me at if you’d like to share any insights or stories! 

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KEEPING A Good Agent

I am working to copy some of our past e-newsletter articles over to the blog to make them even easier for people to find! This particular article can be found in the April 2017 issue. Not a subscriber? You can learn how to subscribe and download past issues by clicking HERE!

Keeping a Good Agent

Last time we discussed how to FIND a good agent.  If you didn’t read that article, take a look back and learn what to look for in a good agent…while a bad agent can bring you tons of stress, a good one is worth their weight in gold!  Now that you’ve hopefully found a good agent, here are some tips to keep your relationship great.


Preferred Method of Contact

An agent can’t book you if they can’t get ahold of you.  The best way to ensure that you don’t miss out on a gig is to find out your agent’s preferred method of communication, and respond in that way, or at least in the way they contacted you.  If they email, send an email back.  If they call, call them back.  I personally am terrible at keeping up with phone calls, but am quicker with texts and emails!  
Check In
Check in with your agent as soon as possible after you finish a gig.  It’s NOT because they don’t trust you or want to babysit you. It’s really important for the agent to know what happened from your perspective asap, so that they can properly address any issues when they discuss how the event went with the client.  This enables them to have YOUR back if a client calls with a complaint.  For example, if the client claims you were too slow, it helps to have photographic evidence that twice as many kids came as they originally told you.  A good agent stands up for his or her contractors while smoothing over any issues, and in order to do this, you need to keep in close communication to work as a team.  
Likewise, agents would like to know if the client was especially pleasant, helpful, tipped you well, or did anything else that went above and beyond so they can properly thank them, and hopefully book YOU for the same event next year if you enjoyed it!
Sending photos with your check in is a huge plus, and for many agents, a requirement! It helps your agent to better understand the environment you were working in, and plan their discussions with the client for next year’s event, should any changes need to be made to make things run more smoothly.  I also request that artists who work for me send photos of several of their paintings, so I can thank the client with a photo collage of the beautiful work that was done!

Stay Top of Mind
I know this may make we agents sound spacey, but sometimes agents don’t hire you just because they don’t think of you or haven’t seen you in a while! It has nothing to do with your talent…they just deal with so many artists and so many events, that they tend to call those artists who are top of mind first. You can stay towards the top of your agent’s mind by sending an occasional email letting them know what you’ve been up to. Maybe you’ve learned a new skill, gotten better or faster at a particular design, added some cool new products to your kit, send a picture of something you’ve painted recently or let them know some upcoming weekends you have open. Don’t bombard them with spam, of course, but keeping communication consistent or just showing up at local jams, conventions, workshops or other events where the agent is can help keep you top of mind!
Be Professional
Punctuality is a Virtue!
Perhaps one of the worst things you can do to damage your relationship with your agent is to arrive late.   Whether you’re stuck in traffic, got bad directions, were given the wrong address, or had the time wrong on your calendar, we have ALL been there, myself included! While it can be totally mortifying for both the artist and the agent, no matter who’s fault it is, it immediately damages the reputation of the agent’s company.  Do whatever it takes to arrive on time, and plan to be early! 
When you are stuck in one of those situations where you’re running late, it is of utmost importance that you contact the agent the moment that you know you will be late. (not after the fact)  This gives them the opportunity to call up the client and prepare them, making life easier for you and preventing a possible client meltdown when you arrive. Agents take care of this uncomfortable stuff so you don’t have to…help them get the info they need so you can just have fun painting!
Take your Commitment Seriously
Backing out of a gig after you’ve signed a contract is right up there with arriving late, especially if it’s at the eleventh hour.  While you may be taking a to-do off your calendar, the agent is now taking on a huge list of stressful to-do’s to replace you.  Again, I’ve both done this myself, and had this done to me.  We’ve all been there and know it’s sometimes truely unavoidable. But no matter how good your reasons are, be as gracious, understanding, and accommodating as possible, and try very hard not to ever let it happen twice!
Dress Appropriately
You would think this would go without saying, but unfortunately it has to be said.  If your agent hasn’t given you some sort of dress code, just ask them.  They may request a certain style to fit their brand, the client’s preferences, or simply request a level of modesty.  
Represent the Agent
Distribute the Agent’s Collateral
Once you accept a gig that was booked through an agent, you are expected to act as a representative of their business, not your own.  This means you distribute their business cards (unless they say otherwise), and only display their company  name.  
When you are the one who has put in the time and expense of advertising, earning regular clients, and maintaining that relationship, then you are free to sell yourself.  Always ask your agent what their policy is when asked for a card, though this should be in their contract already. Many agents allow and even prefer you to write your name on their cards in case the client wants to request you specifically for a future gig!  
If you’re an artist who argues, “well I’m the one doing all the work and making THEM look good!” then you likely have not played the role of an agent yet!  As an artist who also experiences first hand the sheer volume of unpleasant grunt work involved in being an agent, I have a special appreciation for this and jump at the chance to work for and represent other agents at a fraction of my own hourly rate! Regardless of your feelings on whether an agent is worth their “cut” or not, the bottom line is, you are a independent contractor.  This means you are completely free to work on your own, and if you are unhappy with your agent’s policies or the rate that they are paying you, simply stop taking gigs from them. That’s the joy of being your own boss!
While I could go on and on, these are just a few tips on how to keep your relationship with your agent running smoothly.  The biggest tip though is to simply have open and honest communication with your agent about their own particular policies so everyone is clear about what their roles are!  As I mentioned, this is a series of articles on agents…next time I’ll touch on the subject of becoming an agent yourself! Until then, happy painting!

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FINDING a Good Agent

I am working to copy some of our past e-newsletter articles over to the blog to make them even easier for people to find! This particular article can be found in the March 2017 issue. Not a subscriber? You can learn how to subscribe and download past issues by clicking HERE!

FINDING A Good Agent

Have you been struggling to find enough gigs to keep yourself as busy painting as you want to be?  Do you dread the business side of face painting, wish you could skip all the paperwork and chasing down payments from clients, and just PAINT? Perhaps then you might consider working for an agent.  Finding a great agent to work with can be very good for filling your calendar.  Sadly, there are a lot of bad agents out there, and artists need to remember that as independent contractors we have the freedom to work for whomever we want, and should be interviewing potential agents just as they interview us. Here are a few tips to help you find the right agent for you.
Do Your Homework
Where To Find Agents
Before you can start working for agents, you of course need to find them.  You can start with a simple Google Search or find out who’s offering face painting services on Thumbtack, Gigmasters, Gigsalad, and similar sites.  Some areas have Facebook pages for local artists to connect with agents and share gigs.  The best way is to simply connect with other local painters who are willing to share who they work for and what it’s like.  
Define your Wholesale Rate
When you work for an agent, you need to be willing to work for a lower hourly rate than you would on your own.  (and you certainly should be charging more for yourself than you get from an agent!!)  A good agent invests a TON of time and money into their business to land their gigs, as well as doing all of the “grunt work” most artists hate…booking contracts, dealing with client complaints, coordinating multiple artists, cutting paychecks, advertising…the list goes on and on.  I don’t know about you, but for me, NOT having to do all of this and just show up & paint is totally worth a reduced rate.  Find out the going rate in your area that agents pay, and decide what you are willing to work for.  Or, how much NOT having to do all that grunt work is worth to you. The rate you’re paid will vary among agents and among gigs, based on many factors, so having a general range or minimum in mind is best.  You may be willing to work for less if it’s in your own town, for example, or if it’s an all day event.  

What to Look For
Before you start setting aside precious weekend time slots for agents, make sure they are reputable.  Here are a few things to look for….
Prompt Payment
A good agent will make sure you’re paid in a reasonable amount of time, not make you wait until the client pays THEM before paying you.  It’s the agent’s job to control their own business cash flow issues, not project them onto you.  If you’re having to spend time chasing down payment from an agent, there is really no advantage to working for them in the first place…you can do that yourself with your own clients and make more for doing that extra work! On the flip side, a good agent who pays quickly and takes care of all the billing is SO worth working for a reduced hourly rate!
Written Contracts
A good agent will back things up in writing.  Contracts are incredibly important, not only for protecting the clients and the agent, but for yourself. Your contract should not only include all event details, but the amount you will be paid, how you will be paid, and the date you can expect to be paid by. 
Solid Business Practices
If your agent is a legitimate business, and they have paid you $600 or more for any given calendar year, they are required to send you a 1099-MISC form by the end of January for the previous year’s wages for your taxes.  As an independent contractor you are required to pay your own taxes, and this is all part of running a good business.  Likewise, you are required to provide them with your address and social security number in order to fill out these forms.
Make sure to have a discussion about an agent’s expectations of you.  Are you only allowed to hand out the agent’s business cards? What is acceptable attire to wear to gigs?  How should you handle questions about their rates or your availability? How early are you expected to arrive to a gig? What should you do if you are running late?  How should you handle client complaints?  What if the client wants you to stay later? Are there limitations as to what products you can use or what age you can paint?  Are you expected to provide your own design menu or adhere to theirs? All agents should have something to say about these topics, and making sure you are both on the same page is critical to your business relationship. 
Word on the Street
An employer calls up references to get the opinions of those you’ve worked for, so why not do the same with them? Talk to other artists who have worked for an agent.  This is a great way to learn whether you will fit into an agent’s business practices and expectations.   Make sure to get multiple opinions to be fair.  As we all know, not everybody may give glowing reviews, but don’t judge an agent based on one bad review. We’ve all had relationships gone bad, so take opinions with a grain of salt, remember there are two sides to every story, and give them the benefit of the doubt…just as you hope they do with you. 
More to Come
My hopes is that this article will help you to get started in your search for an agent, and hopefully lead to an awesome relationship with them!  This is the first of a series of articles I’ve written on agents.  Check out our next post for more on what you can do to KEEP your good agent relationship, and what to think about if you are considering becoming an agent yourself!