The Art of War for Face Painters: Paints are Provided


Problem: You always supply your own face paints and equipment when you work, but this year an organization you’ve donated your face painting service to in the past has declared they want to supply the materials you use for their event. While it’s a kind gesture which you’re certain stems from their desire to save you money, you’re hesitant to accept. You’ve heard stories of other face painters who have encountered the same situation, only to show up to substandard paints and equipment with which they were not able to provide quality results. How can you handle it in a way which allows you to create professional designs, but won’t hurt the feelings of the well-meaning event organizers?

Solution: As is commonly the case when dealing with clients, the best solution is to gently but firmly educate those who may not be familiar with the necessity for professional materials and equipment while face painting.

Many people think of face painting as a hobby rather than a business. Because of this, they don’t realize that face painters invest hundreds of dollars in their kits so they will have FDA compliant, highly pigmented, professional face paints which are not normally available in stores. In addition, they don’t realize the extensive list of other supplies which aid in producing high quality face painting designs, such as good brushes and special sponges.

In this type of situation, first remember that the event organizers believe they’re doing you a favor. They appreciate your support for their cause, and they want to make it easier for you to help by offering to cover some of your cost. Unless you tell them, they won’t be aware of the following:

  • Face paints easily available in regular stores can be substandard in quality and may have a higher likelihood of causing skin reactions.
  • Your liability insurance is very specific about what type of paints it will cover.
  • What you apply the paints with will make a huge difference in the quality of the end product.
  • If you don’t use your own kit, you could jeopardize your professional reputation if you aren’t able to do a good job.

After explaining your predicament to the event organizers and thanking them for the kind motives behind their offer, give them some choices. They could give you a monetary reimbursement for supplies. In that way, you will use the kit you’re comfortable with and which also meets your business standards, but they will be able to help cover your costs.

A second option would be to offer to put together a small kit for them, or at least give them a specific list of supplies (as well as which company they can order them from) so that you don’t have any surprises the day you arrive to paint. If you go this route, and they will be placing the order, be very detailed as to which brands and colors you will need. (Also, still consider bringing your own brushes, sponges, and other tools.)

You should follow your gut instincts when it comes to making sure you have the tools to do your job well at any event. Ultimately, you have the same goals as the event organizers. You both want the children to love their face painting designs. All you really have to do is communicate this in a professional manner with your clients so they know that, even if you do decline their offer of purchased supplies, your decision is designed to positively support their organization, protect your business reputation, and make the children you paint thrilled with their face painting experience during the event.

Beth MacKinney is the owner of and primary face painter for Face Paint Pizzazz in the NW Chicago suburbs. She also writes for as the Chicago Face Painting Examiner.