How to Get Your First Face Painting Gig

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So you want to be a professional face painter? Making upwards of one hundred dollars an hour may sound like a great way to supplement your income or save for that vacation-of-a-lifetime. You’ve been practicing on yourself, maybe your kids too, and you’re feeling pretty confident that you’re ready to get paid to face paint. Now if you could only get that first face painting job!

Like with anything worthwhile, success doesn’t just happen without any effort. Be prepared to get a little creative when it comes to booking your first face painting gig. Once that happens, you can expect to start building a steady client base. It doesn’t happen overnight, but with a little luck and some hard work, you too can soon be calling yourself a professional face painter!

Network

I’m sure you’ve heard the age-old advice that the best way to find a job is by networking. It’s true with face painting too! Tell your friends that you’re starting a business as a face painter. They’ll tell their friends and next time a neighborhood mom posts that she’s looking for a face painter for her child’s birthday party, your name is likely to come up! Be honest about your experience and explain that you’re just getting started. Be sure to mention any volunteer work you’ve done. Send some pictures or direct potential clients to your social media accounts if you post face painting pictures there. When you do book that first birthday party, be sure to deliver on any promises you’ve made to your client and be flexible. For example, if you promised to face paint ten kids per hour, but you fall short, don’t charge for the extra time it takes to get it done. With experience, you’ll learn to pace yourself.

Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to build up your skills and speed while feeling good about giving back to the community at the same time. Volunteering can also lead to paid face painting gigs. When looking for a place to volunteer, choose organizations that you not only support, but ones that have lots of kids around. Obviously, you don’t want to be standing around at, say, a golf event asking middle aged men if they want to have their faces painted. While I haven’t face painted at a golf tournament, I have volunteered at events where there’s not a kid in sight. If you do find yourself in a similar situation, make the most of it. Paint your own face, smile, and hand out business cards!

Preschool events, 4th of July celebrations, libraries, and Halloween gatherings, are all good choices for donating your time and talents if you’re looking to get in a lot of face painting practice. When donating your time, be sure to ask the event coordinator if they can share your social media links or give you some kind of shout-out on their website, in fliers, or in other promotional materials. The idea is to get your name out there and impress potential clients with your talent! And that will likely lead to your first paid face painting job. 

Search Online

Don’t rule out finding a job the old-fashioned way, by searching job postings. While there aren’t a ton of face painting job listings out there, you will occasionally find one. The end of spring and early summer are good times to search for face painting job openings at zoos and amusement parks. You may want to get yourself ahead of the game by contacting the human resources department at a zoo or amusement park if you know they employ face painters. Ask if they are accepting resumes for face painters and be ready to show them your work. Keep in mind that face painters may be hired by contractors. In that case, ask if your HR contact will share that information with you and then reach out to them directly.

The perks that come along with working somewhere like the zoo is that you’ll get regular hours and training may be provided, so a ton of experience isn’t always necessary. The hourly rate is not going to be as high as you’re likely to charge for private bookings, but at least you’ll be getting plenty of experience and regular work.

Visit Busy Events

Go to farmers markets, outdoor festivals, and holiday celebrations in your area. Are there lots of young families around? If so, find the director of the event and introduce yourself. You’d be surprised how many event directors have a hard time finding face painters! Often times established, professional face painters’ hourly rates don’t fit their tight budgets. If you are willing to be flexible with your rate you may find yourself with a regular weekend booking. The experience you’ll get is invaluable and think of all the parents who will be interested in booking you for their child’s birthday parties! And then you can charge your full hourly rate. Be sure to ask if you can put out a tip jar to make up for a lower hourly rate if you should get an offer to work at one of these events.

Create a Website

You can increase your chances of getting hired by having a sleek website with pictures of your work. There are so many ways to easily create an attractive and professional-looking website, so be sure to take some time and research your options. You might also want to start a blog if you are willing to update it regularly. Increasing traffic to your website through regular posts can be a fun way to bring attention to your business.

Create Social Media Accounts

Creating an Instagram and Facebook account just for your face painting business is a good idea. Use relevant hashtags and post frequently. Put your location and any other relevant booking information in your profile if you are looking to get jobs through your social media accounts.

Be sure to have fun and get creative in your journey to becoming a paid face painter. What works for one person may not work for you. For example, if you’re shy about approaching strangers for work, you may want to focus more on social media posts. If posting pictures on social media sounds terrifying, then getting your name out there through volunteering and meeting people in person may be the road leading to your success.

If you’re already working as a face painter, I’d love to hear about your first gig. Please share details in the comments section!

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Vanessa Tsumura is a face painter in Milwaukee. Her first paid gig was at her local farmers market where she just wrapped up her fifth season of face painting.

Photo credits: Market Photo by Dane Deaner, Social Media Photo William Iven, Networking photo by Priscilla Du Preez all on Unsplash. All other photos by author. 


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