If you’re driving your own car to a face and body art convention and have no extra passengers, space will not be an issue for you when you’re packing for the week. But many attendees either fly or catch a ride with a friend, in which case space does become an important consideration. While no one wants to arrive without something that she needs, how do you whittle your kit down and decide what are needs and what are wants, especially if you’ve never attended a convention?
Anyone teaching would bring a few extras, of course, but for those of us sitting in the classes, this is the list I’ve come up with to help anyone who is a convention newbie. Some classes are observation classes only, while others are hands-on, and hopefully this list will cover what you’ll need to have for either of them.
A small palette with a nice array of at least 12 colors, a few small split cakes, and possibly one or two large split cakes is all that’s necessary for classes.
I have a magnetic tray insert in my Craft ‘n Go, so all I had to do was lift it out and put it in the smaller wooden case to take with me. The case also held four small split cakes, a couple of regular split cakes, a Diamond FX white, a Diamond FX black, and some collapsible water wells, brush soap, and glitter. As it turns out, this was too heavy to carry around in a backpack all week when combined with other items. Face paint is heavy. I ended up with a chiropractic visit after getting home, possibly from the drive, but probably exacerbated by having to carry heavy paints with me all over the place. I would have been better off with my small Wolfe or Kryvaline palette instead of the large insert of 32 colors, but if you’re like me, you can’t bear to leave behind a color you might need. If I had a small wheeled tote, it would have been more practical, and a few people used these, but there are stairs to navigate, so next time I won’t bring so much face paint with me.
(Remember that if you’re planning to participate in the body painting competitions, you’ll need more paint than you would for classes and that you will want a few larger brushes.)
Bring an assortment of your favorite brushes packed in something which will protect them while you’re traveling. I brought several small, medium, and large round brushes, one liner, and a few flat and filbert brushes of various sizes in a folding holder which protected them from damage. You don’t need the number you use for your gigs, but consider the classes you’re likely to take, because that will help you plan. I left home without an angle brush, and since I was taking Denise Cold’s class, it was a goofy oversight on my part. Fortunately, I was able to buy one in the vendor hall, so it didn’t matter. It was a little on the small side, but it worked for the week.
Miscellaneous face painting stuff
This would be the extra paraphernalia you need while doing painting of any kind. It would include a few (perhaps five or six) sponges, baby wipes, paper towels, a notebook, a pen, an unbreakable mirror, a container for rinsing brushes, brush soap, a water bottle to drink, and a water bottle for painting water, and possibly a water-tight container for dumping your dirty water into. In many classrooms they had drinking water, cups, and a dumping bucket for paint water, but not always.
It’s also nice to bring a spare supplies just in case your classroom neighbor forgets something. I lent out my extra collapsible water container, paper towels, baby wipes during several classes.
Most people don’t dress up for the convention classes, so you’ll see everything from t-shirts and jeans to office casual, depending on the person. I dressed in nice shirts, jeans, and boots for the most part, but on the day I arrived, I was in t-shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes, which is what I was wearing for traveling. You’re going to be walking around a lot, so make sure you have something comfortable on your feet.
Bring a swimsuit for the pool, just in case you have time to swim. (I didn’t have time at the recent St. Louis convention, but I forgot my suit anyway.) Don’t forget exercise clothes for the workout room if that’s your regular routine and you can fit it in. Although it’s not necessary, you may want something extra nice to wear during the final evening banquet if the convention you’re attending offers this. I noticed that most people did dress up for the banquet, and it was a festive final evening with a DJ and dancing after dinner.
Phone with a good camera or a digital camera
The easiest way to document your convention trip is to take photos. In the classes, take photos of the finished designs by your instructors so you can practice them during the jams or when you arrive home. During the social times, take photos of you and your compatriots having fun. A convention is a great time to learn, form relationships, and make happy memories. A good quality camera will help you capture it all.
Money for food
My hotel and the convention hotel offered ample breakfasts, but you’re on your own for other meals with the exception of the final banquet. Budget at least $25 or so for meals each day. You probably won’t spend quite that much, but at least you’ll have it if you need it, depending where you choose to eat. At the St. Louis convention the vendor hall was open during meal times, so I didn’t always have a great deal of time remaining to eat after browsing and shopping.
Money for vendor goodies
You will want to shop. I’m just warning you now. Once let loose in that vendor hall, only the most stalwart soul is able to resist, because not only do they have a wonderful variety of products all in one place, but they have special deals during the convention. For some classes, the instructors will have brought in particular items to sell in the vendor hall in case you want to purchase them (i.e. Elisa Griffiths Pro Palette, which she featured in her class).
Finally, if you’re planning to run your business during the week, you may want to bring your laptop with you. I didn’t bring it to my classes, but I did use mine every evening in my hotel room. I could have used my iPhone instead, but as a fast typist, I hate texting, which is comparatively slow. I’d rather take care of business on my laptop when possible.
I’d also highly suggest a small, portable battery charger. I found that while at the convention, my phone was continually searching for a signal or wi-fi, and it depleted the battery much faster than normal. For example, with normal use my iPhone 6 battery lasts two days. At the convention, it couldn’t make it through one. The way I got around this was by placing my phone on airplane mode during the day and only checking emails once in awhile. This allowed me to concentrate better in classes since I didn’t get phone interruptions, but if you want to stay in constant communication with the outside world and you have battery concerns, bring a portable charger with you, just in case your phone doesn’t make it to the end of the day.
Other supplies, such as balloons
If you’re a face painter who doesn’t twist balloons, but you’d like to take a hands-on beginner class, your instructor may provide a pump and balloons for you to learn with, but if you want to bring your own, small hand pumps are inexpensive, and you can purchase a bag of balloons online. If you are mainly a balloon twister, however, consider bringing your regular pump, especially if you’re planning to create anything large.
This list isn’t a comprehensive list, but it does cover the basics that you could need for your week at a convention. As convention veteran and instructor Barbara Breitung reminded me, it’s comforting to know that if you forget face painting supplies at home, you can generally find replacements in the vendor hall. Other than that, structure your needs according to which classes you’re planning to take or extra activities you’re planning to participate in at the convention, and enjoy your week!
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