What Kind of Menu Board is Right for You?


Deciding what kind of face painting menu board to create is a challenging decision. There are several options, and each artist creates a board just a little bit differently. In this post, I’m going to discuss the main options for face painting boards so that you can make a thoughtful decision for which will work best for you.

Option 1: The Picture Board


Picture boards are probably one of the most eye-catching and effective boards that you can use. When children see pictures of face paint, they immediately know what you can provide for them. Picture boards are a great way to show off your skill. If parents see how visually appealing your designs are, they will know that you are worth whatever price you are charging for your work. Another great aspect of picture boards is that most children will pick specific designs straight from the board, which means that you have a speedy plan for painting these designs in your display.


Even though picture boards are extremely effective, if you are a new painter, you will constantly get better, so you will need to reflect this in your board. This means you'll have to create a new board to keep up with your skill level. Some artists have menu boards with slots so they can remove images and replace them as necessary. Printing and laminating new pictures can be costly, so take this into account.

Another potential drawback is that children may expect their own painting to look exactly like the picture. If they see any differences, they might complain, so you'll have to make sure you have the designs down exactly for each child. Because of this, picture boards leave little room for creative freedom and improvisation; this may be especially limiting when you have a long line and are trying to simplify designs to get through the kids even faster. It also limits you as an artist when you want to alter the design in any way. 

Bottom Line: Picture boards are recommended if you perform at many pay per face events such as carnivals and festivals. If you need to attract customers and if you have a little bit more time to make sure that every face is perfect, then you should definitely consider a picture board. If you do not fall into this category, then consider a different type of menu board.

Option 2: Word Board


Word boards are great because they allow creative freedom for the artist. If your board says “puppy," you may create any kind of puppy design that you want without restrictions. If you are trying to close a line, then you will be able to simplify your designs, and the children will most likely not know the difference. Also, as a newer painter, then you won't have to worry about changing your board to reflect your improvements. Word boards are a happy medium between the other two kinds of boards mentioned in this post.

One of the best aspects of a word board is the flexibility you have in altering a design on the fly to get through a line quickly without repercussions of falling short of what a child may expect visually. Many artists use a word board because of this.


Unfortunately, strict word boards are not as visually effective as picture boards when it comes to selling designs. Because of this, you really have to make sure that “Face Painting” is very prominent on your board. Also, there is no way for a parent to know if your designs are worth your price or not, so you really have to make sure that your face is painted very nicely in order for them to know that you will deliver quality work.

In addition to this, children who cannot read won't understand what their options are for face painting. In some cases, parents will press a child to request a design that is not really what the child wants, but what the parent wants the child to have. A word board puts the child at a disadvantage in this respect, because he or she cannot tell what their choices are. 

Finally, once in awhile people will misunderstand the purpose of a word menu and think that the design option is a word rather than a design which the word represents. (In other words, they will think the design is the word "princess" rather than a princess design.) Without images, you might find yourself explaining this more than you would like to confused parents and children. 

Bottom Line: A word board is recommended if you do a lot of events for which your client is paying you to face paint (not pay per face). The word board will enable you to get through the line fast because you can simplify designs at will. They also work well for small parties, because you create more elaborate party designs from the same menu. 

Option 3: No Board


Not using a board at all which provides the maximum amount of creative freedom for the artist. Most kids will still ask for basic designs such as butterflies, puppies, and superheroes, and as an artist, you can direct their choices by suggesting common designs—especially those you prefer to paint. However, there will be a few children who ask for less common designs. Because of this, you should be very confident in your painting skills if you are going to go menu-less. Have a phone handy if you have no board, because it's very likely you will need to use it for reference if you are asked to paint something you are totally unfamiliar with (such as an unusual animal or an obscure superhero).

One of the main advantages in painting with no menu is that if you have a tight schedule between events, you will have less equipment to carry and set up or tear down. In some cases, the spatial restrictions of a venue means you won't have room to set up an easel with a menu, so it's helpful in those situations to paint without a menu as well. 


Not having a board is obviously less eye-catching than the previous options. At a pay per face event, this could result in fewer sales or fewer people attracted to your booth. Also, you are bound to get at least a couple of creative kids that want something out of the norm, which will probably take a little bit more time than your familiar designs. Having to work more slowly at a pay per face event translates into less money, so this could be a drawback. 

Bottom Line: Working with no menu is not recommended for pay per face events. It is a more suitable option for private birthdays, especially if you have limited space or need to get in and out of the event quickly. As children at a birthday party often request similar designs so they can match their friends' choices, a board is not always necessary, although you should be ready with designs which match the party theme, just in case.