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How to Get the Most out of Face Painting at Your Event

Face Painting can brighten an event like nothing else can.  And you know that each of your guests will love having a cool, wild, or beautiful painting done on them.  It’s like being decorated!  People get a chance to be “fancy” for a few hours when they have a face painting.  

It’s more popular now than ever, with thousands of quality products on the market that bring that “wow” factor!  Face painting is for all ages – in our work as painters we have painted babies all the way to the oldest person at an elderly care facility.  Having face painting at your event raises the bar.  It says that you want your guests to have a special experience that will not be forgotten.

Choosing a Face Painter

The number one thing to look for in a face painter is someone with experience.  People perceive face painting as “cool” and “easy” so it draws a lot of people who want an extra income on the side.  However there are many pitfalls and unforeseen difficulties for someone just starting out in face painting.  How quickly can they do a certain design?  Which paints work the best?  How can they help people decide what they want and keep the line moving?  An experienced painter knows the answers to these questions and has a lot to offer in terms of making this a fun activity at your party.

Next, look for a professional company who offers a contract with details spelled out.  You should receive this contract well in advance of the event.  The painter’s pricing and requirements should be clearly described, including a description of how pricing is figured if they stay past the agreed upon ending time.  A verbal agreement is not a common practice among professional painters.

Finally, a face painter should be using professional makeup based products.  The painter should not be putting acrylic paints on people’s skin, or using craft glitter which contains metal.  There are hundreds of wonderful resources on the internet for purchasing professional quality products.  Professional painters use water soluble, makeup type products that are non-toxic and washable with soap and water.

Space for Painting

The face painter should communicate with you in advance as to their space requirements.  At Circus Kaput, we ask for a table or table space, plus two chairs.  Table space means that we are happy to be able to use one end of a long table, or one corner or a picnic table, something like that.  We ask for two chairs, one for the painter, and one for the person being painted.  If we know in advance that tables and chairs will not be available at the event, we can make arrangements to bring our own.  All of our painters bring some type of cloth or vinyl with them to cover the table where they will be placing their paints and water.

People like to watch face painting.  It is fascinating and amusing to see the change as the person being painted becomes a wolf or gets a rose on their cheek.  It is helpful if there is room around the painter for people to stand and watch.  If people line up to be painted, you may as well plan to have the line go around the painter where people can see the work being done, because that’s what they are naturally going to want to do.

It has been my personal experience at some events that an adult sees the line form and the children crowding around, and says “Why does everyone have to stand here?  Go play and we will call you when it’s your turn!”  I guess this is fine, but I feel it’s kind of a shame that some adults don’t want to let the kids watch.  They can “go play” any time, but the face painter is here right now.  It seems like part of what the client is paying for is the whole activity, guests being able to watch one another being painted and having fun doing that.  However if the adults really don’t want people watching, I bring numbers with me to give out which I can call in order, or I take down a list of names and cross them out as I go.

Conversely, I have painted at events where there was zero supervision of the children.  Entertainers are not babysitters, and if we are providing an amusement like face painting we cannot also maintain order among an unruly group.  I personally do not mind the children getting very close to watch.  But I do not want them to touch me or tug on me, or touch or tug on the person being painted.  Besides being an annoying distraction that takes away from the painting, touching or bumping can be a safety concern.  When I have a paint brush next to someone’s eye, I don’t want anyone leaning on their chair for fear a sudden push could cause a problem.

Design Choices

There are two ways for your guests to choose face painting designs.  One way is for the artist to provide some type of graphic representation of what they can paint.  Guests can then look through the choices and pick something.  At Circus Kaput, we have painters who bring a large board with artwork, a board with photographs of faces they have painted, or all variety of books and binders with design choices.  I myself typically bring a three foot tall foam core board with choices that says “Face painting” in large lettering at the top.  That way everyone at the party knows there is face painting and knows where it is located.  I feel my sign adds a little bit to the party décor and atmosphere.

The other common way that face painters work is to ask each child one by one what they would like.  There is a verbal exchange where the artist describes some of the choices.  For instance they might say “Would you like flowers or a butterfly or a motorcycle?”  Or, “Would you like to be a princess or a superhero?”  This method works to the advantage of the face painter in two ways.  The first is that there is no visual representation of a design that sets an expectation.  The expectation is based on words only.  Secondly, the painter can kind of choose what they feel like painting and just offer that.  Obviously you can see that my preference is to have artwork to choose from.  I think it’s classy and professional, it adds a little something to the event, and it keeps the line moving more quickly because people can see in advance what choices are available.  That being said, there are certain occasions where no design representation is desirable or necessary.

The Line

A professional painter can tell you in advance roughly how many faces they can paint in one hour.  A line may form and hopefully everyone gets a painting.  The line has the potential to become unruly if no adult is present to make suggestions.  Often excited children are not great at forming a neat line and staying in it when they are eager to see what’s taking place and have their own turn.  In my experience it’s super helpful if an adult offers some guidance at least at the beginning of the line formation.  After that I can repeat the directions and help them stay cued.

Clean Faces

The surprise here is that there is a section called clean faces.  Most people have a sense of responsibility not to allow a child with a dirty face to get in line, but rather to clean them off first.  But frequently a child reaches the face painting chair with food or dirt all over their face.  This puts the face painter in the awkward unpleasant position of having to find something to clean the face with prior to getting to work.

Photo Opportunities

Remember that once painted, it’s a great time to get pictures of your guests!  Half the fun of getting a face painting is getting to walk around looking different, being “fancy”, becoming someone else for a short time.  Be sure to savor this with pictures!  

We can definitely come to your event's location, but if you NEED A PLACE TO HAVE YOUR PARTY we can help. Are you looking for a fun and economical party room for 100 people or less? Check out Circus Kaput's St. Louis Event Space! www.StLouisEventSpace.com

St. Louis Face Painter's events are exciting and entertaining. bring even more fun to your event with our other entertainment options like juggling, comedy hypnosis, stilt walking, sideshow, and magic. We are sure you will agree, Circus Kaput does great events in Missouri and Illinois.

The best midwest event entertainment whether you are looking for hypnotists, magicians, caricaturists, face painters, jugglers, stilt walkers, fire performers comedians or more for your next birthday party, block party, wedding, corporate event, mitzvah, festival, school assembly or any other type of event in Missouri and Illinois.


This web site is maintained by Circus Kaput to provide information about Circus Kaput(CK) booking services and to provide links to sites of independent CK subsidiaries that provide variety entertainment services in the USA. 
Circus Kaput is based in St. Louis, Missouri
314-803-2503                                                       Ginger@circuskaput.com                        www.circuskaput.com
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