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How to Start a Face Painting Business

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JJ has been writing helpful and fun articles online and in print for over 18 years. She enjoys sharing tips and ideas.

How to Start a Face Painting Business

How to Start a Face Painting Business

Add fun to parties, fairs and events!

Wondering if face painting is a good job for you? It could be! Learn how to get start your small business of making kids and adults happy. Do you enjoy working with kids and making them smile? Are you at least a little artistic? Would you like your own company?

My daughter enjoys being a high-quality face painter. Why?

  • She got started in this creative field with low start-up costs.
  • She sets her own schedule with flexible hours.
  • She likes using her creativity.
  • She enjoys interacting with children!
  • It makes good money!

Now, I am considering getting into the act. She keeps busy, and there are only so many Saturdays (the most popular party day for kids) during the summer. Maybe I'll build up my own small business. Read on for some awesome business-starting tips, design ideas, and more! Learn how to become a professional face painter!

What does it take to be a professional face painter?

What does it take to be a professional face painter?

Do You Want to Be a Professional Face Painter?

Before you dive right in and decide to commit to painting faces, think about what it entails. You'll be spending a lot of time with kids and people in general. The hours could be long, and people might ask you for things you might not have tried before. Your personality is really important in these face-to-face businesses, so you need to consider how it would or wouldn't affect customers' experiences. After all, a lot of work comes from word-of-mouth referrals! Here's a quick questionnaire to see if this endeavor might be right for you.

Are you...

  • Cheerful?
  • Always smiling?
  • Artistically talented?
  • Good with kids?
  • Neat and clean?
  • Patient?
  • Fun?

If you said yes to these questions, you should consider doing this as a job!

How to Start a Face-Painting Business

1. Learn About the Industry

Gather more information about getting started in the industry. You can often learn a lot of tips and tricks by trying one or all of the following actions:

  • Volunteering to help
  • Watching interactions
  • Just hanging around

One artist got her start by shadowing another lady already in the business. Then, she learned one design (in this case, a butterfly) and then began trying it out on friends and family. Soon, she graduated to painting actual children! Here are some tips from a source I know and trust:

6 Tips From Snazaroo (maker of awesome paints):

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Read More From Feltmagnet

  1. Talk to other professionals for suggestions and help.
  2. Get or borrow at least three tutorial books to practice with and study.
  3. Find design ideas online and try them out.
  4. Practice! You can do this on paper or on friends. Simulate a real event by doing one for free. A good goal is to be able to paint any design you offer in five minutes or less.
  5. "Know 15 full face and 10 cheek art designs by heart."
  6. Check out the competition.

K.J., a professional face artist, offers this advice to beginners:

"Practicing is the main key. Practice as much as you can, watch professionals do it (on videos or in person), read related books and find your style. Have fun with the kids, the designs, and the colors, and your business will be a success!"

Kelsey The Face Painting Lady paints kids in the Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, WA areas.

Kelsey The Face Painting Lady paints kids in the Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, WA areas.

2. Gather the Gear and Supplies You'll Need

Here are basic supplies you'll need:

  • 12 colors of quality paint
  • 15 good artist-quality brushes
  • Face painting 3-ring binder or menu board

If you have a craft show or will be offering your services at an event, consider these items:

  • Pop-up canopy
  • Portable table
  • 2 chairs, one for you and one for your client
  • Hand mirror
  • Wipes
  • Sponges

3. Find Business Opportunities and Set Your Rates

Now that you have the motivation and supplies in hand, it's time to drum up some business! You have two payment options: charge by the hour or by the face.

Charge "by the hour" for events:

  • Birthday parties
  • Picnics
  • Fundraisers
  • Grand openings
  • Holidays
  • Church gatherings
  • Corporate events for families
  • Restaurant "Kids' Nights"

In these cases, the host pays you and you paint the guests "for free." Some places will allow you to put a tip jar on your table as well as paying the hourly fee. Just ask! For pay-by-the-face booths, be sure to bring plenty of change for customers, and have that tip jar out for extra income!

Set up a booth and charge "per face" at venues:

  • Farmer's markets
  • Swap meets
  • Kids' events
  • Fairs and festivals

In some locations, you may also be able to set up in a park or public corner. Be sure to find out about local business laws in those cases.

It's time for you to get started! Watch and try the tutorials below for extra practice, and good luck!

A Bit of Humor...

Parents often ask, "Will it just wash off with soap and water?"

My daughter smiles and answers, "Nope, it's permanent!"

Pause—straight face—everyone laughs.

The parent will then respond, "But seriously, it'll just wash off, right?"

My daughter simply says, "Sure..."

Questions & Answers

Question: Do you have to meet legal requirements if you make a local face painting stall when you are a minor?

Answer: That would depend on your area and the place in which you are planning on working. For instance, painting at a church event might be fine, but at a farmer's market might require at least a permit. You can call your local business office.

Question: How would I go about making a legal business?

Answer: Look into your local laws. In the USA there are usually state and/or local business licenses to get. You might also look into opening a business bank account and getting face painting (entertainers) insurance. I suggest reading up on starting a small business in your area.

Question: How much does it cost for a license in order to face paint?

Answer: That would really depend on your area. You can call your local business license office and they should know.

Question: Should you start off with business cards and ads to grow your face painting business, or wait until you become successful?

Answer: I think having a business card is a great idea for looking professional from day one. Vistaprint online has great deals on printing them. As for ads, I know Kelsey the Face Painting Lady in Vancouver, Washington USA started off doing local fairs and events where she charged per face and she put up a lot of flyers on bulletin boards in her area. Over time you can do more advertising as your budget allows, or if you have start-up money, you can advertise right away in local papers and online. I would strongly suggest making a website.

Question: How much does a face painter earn?

Answer: That could vary widely depending on time put into the job, location, expenses, advertising and so much more.

I'd love to hear from you! on October 28, 2019:

Beautiful thank you

Ashlee Daniels on January 29, 2019:

I love thee creativity it looks fun for an bussiness i'm working at a Youth Café and i'm responsible for face painting i will love starting my own business

monica_ on September 11, 2018:

i have been doing face painting on and off for many years but i keep loosing me network by moving to new cities.I knew many people in my hometown and was easy to find new gigs but i dont know what to do now in a new citie not knowing anyone really.Any advise?

greggbirkner on March 19, 2013:

Thanks for putting so much time, effort, and information into this page. My wife is a professional face painter and I'll be sure to pass on this lens to her. I'm sure she will enjoy it.

WriterJanis2 on March 18, 2013:

This looks like such a fun and creative job,