The Art of War for Face Painters: Taking a Break in the Middle


Problem: You’ve booked an event, and the hostess is still juggling her party schedule. She calls to suggest that it would be best if you begin by painting for one hour, then take one hour off in the middle of the party (for the magic show she has planned), and and then resume painting afterwards to finish your final hour.

You’re immediately concerned. While it may be more convenient for the hostess to plan the party this way, it means that you would be committing to losing an entire hour of work time in the middle of a busy day. Even if she wants you to call it your lunch hour and plans to feed you, time is money for face painters, and there are a limited number of slots available each weekend for you to fill with clients. Saying yes to a free hour may result in saying no to a paying one. How can you tactfully communicate this without upsetting her party plans?

Solution: Be open with your hostess about your time expectations. The hostess may be looking at your performance as a package deal for a number of guests rather than an hourly rate. Even if you have a contract which states that you work by the hour, you may need to clarify your terms of service and explain that an added hour of your time will result in an added cost to her. Since you don’t want to charge her more than is necessary for the number of children you’ll be face painting, point out that you’d prefer to work out a more economical plan which would save her that extra cost.

Before you approach the hostess, plan to offer solutions which will benefit you both. If the interruption takes the form of a magic show, as in the example above, suggest setting up in a location which allows the children in your chair can see the show while they are painted. In this way, the children can move through your station quietly with minimum disruption to the magician, whose performance you also need to respect. If the interruption is dinner or a photo session, suggest that you begin face painting either before or afterwards so the hostess doesn’t incur extra cost for non-painting time.

You’ll rarely come across a hostess who won’t be willing to tweak her party schedule a bit, but if you’re clear about how you charge for your time, it will motivate even the most rigid hostess to rethink her plan so that the final result will be good for both of you.

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.