If you're new to face painting, it's important to think through your set up before you get to an event. This video will help you consider what equipment you'll need as well as how you should position yourself to keep children from accidentally getting into your equipment. Each artist has specific needs based on his or her set up, and there is a lot you'll need in addition to face paint, glitter, and brushes, so you may want to add other items to your list as you watch the video.
How to Set Up For a Face Painting Event
The Director's Chair
So one piece of equipment that of course is very important is your chair. I use a tall director's chair and I really like it - it's been a great piece of equipment. This is not my first director's chair. The first one was really only good for up to 250lbs and it made me a little edgy when adults were sitting in it, so what I ended up doing was getting a chair that was a little more heavy duty so I didn't have to be concerned about that. It's very transportable, it folds up, and I made a cover for it so that I would be able to make sure kids didn't fall through. This one doesn't have as much of an opening in the back as my other one did, but I like to make sure that nobody can slip through accidentally, especially when the kids are really little.
Your Work Surface
And of course another piece of equipment you're going to need is a work surface. So I have a Craft n' Go. I used to have a table that I would use and I would bring it with me, and the advantage of having a table you bring with you, is that you don't have to rely on a hostess to provide one and you know the work surface is going to be large enough. I try to make sure that I always bring my own equipment and everything that I will possibly need, because I don't want to be in a situation where I don't have what I need, or I'm hoping someone else will have something that is sufficient. So in this case, Craft n' Gois great, the legs fold up, makes it really easy to carry with, and I highly suggest it, but a table works great too. I did use a small, light camping table, but it would just take me a couple more minutes to set it up.
Now I'm setting up for an event. I have my Craft n' Go, which I open up, and pretty much everything is in place in here. I have a foam piece which I put over my paints, and I have some sponges which keep my brush holder in place, it's also magnetic, so it holds onto the back.
My paints are all magnetic so they hold onto these metal plates, and they stay in place pretty well. And I have all my glitters and my stencils up here that I might need, and my water bottle, which is also magnetic. I have business cards, hand sanitizer, and I've put magnets on virtually everything that's in here, so that it stays where I want it to stay, and it's ready for use. But when I'm setting up, I open up my Craft n' Go, or if you just put things out on your table, you're going to need a bag of some kind to hold your dirty sponges.
In my backpack, I also have a bag with clean sponges. So the bag with clean sponges is actually a laundry bag and I use it because it's mesh and so it breathes. I always make sure my sponges are really dry, this way I know they can breathe and they're not likely to get mildew or get icky, just in case they might have been mildly damp when I put them in there.
I take these sponges, open them up, and I put them on the front of my kits, so they're hanging right at the front where they're easily accessible.
You can see a few more things that I use here for my setup for events. I always bring wet wipes with me, and I make sure that they are unscented. I usually put them in a side pocket of my chair so they're easily accessible and they're not in the way of my work area.
I also bring lights because, especially in restaurants, any place that's kind of dim, and has a nice atmosphere like that, sometimes there's just not enough light. And while I often remind hostesses that I do need adequate lighting, sometimes they put me in a corner where the lighting isn't great for face painting. So if I do run into that, I have lights that I can clip on the back and I can light them up, so I can see. And if I need to, I can even turn them towards the person that I'm working on. So I have two of them and they're both rechargeable, so I highly recommend them or any kind of light that you can just carry, because you never know when you're going to be in a situation where you might need that. If it's a bright day or if it's a brightly lit area, I don't need to put them up.
The other thing I have with me when I'm setting up is water! You have to have water for face paint. So I have water wells that compress and are short, and I clean them up after my events so that they're nice and clean for the next person. I use two of these and usually, I have a small plastic cup that I keep under here for just clean water. I put water in them during my setup. I don't use a lot of water and
I also have a container in my backpack which I can empty dirty water into if I think it's getting a little murky and I want to make sure it's clean. I also use Brush Bath during my setup because I have found that by putting this in my first well, I get a lot more paint off my brushes, and then when I rinse here, I have a rinse water and a clean water, and that just means I'm working with a nice, clean brush for each child.
There are a few other pieces of equipment that you are going to want in your kit. And one of those is the all important mirror. Because after you face paint a child, you'll want to hold the mirror up so kids can see what they look like.
So I have two unbreakable mirrors that I have with me, they're like camping mirrors, and they're made of acrylic, so if I drop them, they won't break. For the most part, they won't break like glass ones would break. I use these because they're very safe. If a child happens to grab one, and walk off with it, I don't miss it, and I won't feel concerned for their safety.
I also have a really large mirror. I put this on the back of my chair with clips. And the reason I do that is so that when I'm face painting, sometimes children will come up to me and say "hey can I see my face again?" and I have to stop and show them the mirror, and let them look again. So if I hang this on the back of the chair, I find that children really like it, especially younger kids.
They like to come back and look in the mirror and see what they look like later, because part of the fun is that they know what they look like. If I'm in a really big hurry for an event, then I won't hang it up. If I know I've got to get in and out fast, I will just leave it down and just use the hand mirror. But if it's a really large event, where there are a lot of children, and they may not have access to another mirror, I'll go ahead and put it up.
One last part of your setup, is an easel or a display of some kind, if you would like, so that you can let kids know what designs are options. I have several different versions with mine. This one in the video has a "Well Child Policy", it tells what time face painting ends, and it also has some general options that I can create designs from. I use this one more for bigger events and it's really a word board, and I like using it because that way I can make changes based on what the child wants without being limited to one visual.
But I also have an idea book that I use sometimes for smaller parties and I have a board that also has images I can change out, so if they have a specific theme and they want specific designs, I can do that as well.
Location & Comfort
Something to keep in mind as you're setting up your kit, one more thing, whether you're using a table, or a Craft n Go, but make sure that you're setting up in such a way that if you're right handed, your table should be on your right, and if you're left handed, your table should be on your left.
Think about table height. If you're a person that comes into an event and someone else is supplying a table for you, are you a person that sits down and you'll need two chairs, are you a person that brings your director's chair. Those are all things to think about, so you're not bending over all day, or are uncomfortable by the end of your day.
If you bring your own kit and your own work surface, you can control those things a little bit more easily. Also think about where you're setting up. For an event, I like to be backed up to a wall. And the reason for that is I can keep a little bit of an eye on where children are, and where they're going, and whether they're getting into something accidentally.
I did have an issue once where a child reached out over my table, pulled his arm back, and caught my water well on him, and dumped it all over himself. He was just playing, he wasn't really trying to get into my paint, but the problem is he did catch that, and fortunately we were outside so it didn't make a mess. After that, I become much more careful about making sure that I knew where kids were and how to block their access to my equipment, to keep them from having accidents and not make messes in a hostesses house.
Beth MacKinney is the owner of and primary face painter for Face Paint Pizzazz in Elgin, Illinois, and her artwork has appeared in The Colored Palette and SkinMarkz magazines. She services the western and northwestern Chicago suburbs, Chicago’s north side, and the eastern and southeastern suburbs of Rockford. Stop by Clownantics.com to enjoy more of Beth’s face painting tutorials.