Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, art, travel, make-up, cooking and the occasional rant!

Business Tips for Face Painters, Body Artists and Make-Up Artists #6 – Arrival and Departure Etiquette

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June 1st means it is time for the sixth excerpt from my e-book The Business of Face Painting.  Of course, if you would like to get all the information included in my book right now you can find out how here.

The Business of Face Painting was published in September of 2009 and I am working on the final stages of the companion book The Art of Face Painting which we hope to have out sometime this year.

Being professional in how you conduct yourself on location is very important.  It is this that can make or break you in the eyes of event organizers.

The following is an excerpt from Chapter Five of  The Business of Face Painting.


Arrival and Departure Etiquette

In your discussions with the client and in your contract you will have agreed on what time you will arrive, what is required for furniture or if you are bringing your own and details of parking and access.

I like to arrive early to set-up so I say in my contract that I will arrive up to 30 minutes prior to the starting time to set-up and when I telephone the client the week of the event I confirm everything with them again reminding them I will be there early.  I like to allow plenty of time to find the location and parking as sometimes it might be necessary to unload and then move my vehicle.  Even if the client tells you there will be parking close to the entry you should not expect it to be so as they may not have any control over the space or venue.

On arrival at the location go in and find your contact person, this may be the person who booked you or another person as indicated on the contract.  Let them know you have arrived and would like to check out the location and the place they want you to set-up.  If there is any information that you still need to verify with them such as age limits or tickets to be taken or cut-off times do this now.  Have your contract with you to refer to just in case something has not been provided that should have been so you have proof of who was responsible for that.

Verify if there are overtime terms in the contract and how they want to deal with that.  Usually I will ask them if they want me to continue if the lines are long or cut off at the end time.  Overtime is only done on the request and approval of the on-site representative of the client, so do not undertake it unless they specifically give their approval on the day of the event.

Check out where they are planning to have you set-up as you may need to re-arrange the table or ask them to let you set-up in another location – I often ask to move against a wall or near a window if indoors or have to arrange an outdoor set-up to have windbreaks or barricades.  If in a private home I like to check where they plan to put me as I have had moms show me into white carpeted room or out on the deck in full sun in high summer, this gives me a chance to ask if they could allow me to set-up somewhere off of carpet (and explain why they won’t want me painting on white carpet) or in the shade as sunstroke is not pretty.

Find out where the toilets are and where you can get water if you need to (I bring my own but it is good to where it is for emergencies.)  It is also a very good idea to check out the fire escapes and emergency equipment too if it is a large facility.

You can take your kit with you if you know where you are heading or leave it in the car until you know where you have to take it.  If you and the client decide to make changes to where to set-up, it can be simpler and less tiring for you to just leave your kit in the car until you know where you need to take it.

I always bring my own garbage pail and liners, and I will take my garbage away with me unless there are large garbage cans convenient to drop it into as I leave.  If working in a private home I always take away my garbage and dirty water to dispose of myself.  If at a public venue or outside there are often disposal locations where you can drop off your garbage rather than carrying it home, but never just leave it there for others to deal with.

I use vinyl and plastic tablecloths to cover the surfaces I am working on, and if on carpet I will use a large plastic tablecloth as a drop cloth as I do not want to drip water, spill paint or scatter glitter in the client’s or venue’s carpets.

Once I know where to set-up I put out my kit.  I arrange my signs if I am using them and put out my design book or display first as this allows people to start looking and deciding on what they want as I finish setting up.  At birthday parties I will hand the design book to the birthday child right away to look through as I start to set-up – the kids have a lot of fun just looking through it and it keeps them from pestering me while I set things out.

I start painting when I have everything arranged and it is the contracted start time.  I sometimes start a few minutes early if there is already a line waiting as long as I am completely ready.

How clients will treat you will vary.  Keep in mind you have been hired to face paint and therefore should not expect to be treated as a guest.  Many clients will be very considerate and generous offering drinks, food, invite you to stay after you are finished painting, but others will treat you like the hired help which you actually are.  No matter what happens you need to be professional, do what you have been hired to do with a smile and a thank-you to the client.

When it is time to leave pack up your kit, wipe down any surfaces you used, pick up any of your garbage from the floor and under the table, fold up or stack up tables and chairs if that is required in the location (some rented halls would require this) to be helpful to the client, bundle up your garbage to take away or deposit in appropriate bins only if large enough (do not stuff into a toilet trash bin or overly full garbage can) and check to make sure you have left the area as it was when you arrived.

Get out your invoice and if there was overtime add this to the form and total it.  The client should be available in most cases, often they come over with the cheque towards the end of the job but occasionally you end up going looking for them.  If it was a job with no overtime you can give them your invoice on arrival instead – this often is best for small private events and birthday parties as the host is often busy or enjoying themselves by the end of the event.  I generally present my invoice at the end of a job however I make that decision on arrival as sometimes you just know it will be easier to get that done up-front.  With a bit of experience you will begin to know what will work best for you in any given situation.

If you are being paid in cash count it there in front of the client.  Do not stick a wad of bills in your pocket without checking the amount as you could be shorted and then would not be able to claim that you were.  Check the details on the cheques for amount, your name/company name is correct and the date as it is handed to you.

Thank the client sincerely for the job and make suitable comments about the event.  You want to leave them with a nice feeling about you.

Carry out your kit – many clients or even just people who are at the event often offer to help me carry my gear.  This happens on arrival and departure.  I have taken advantage of offers on rare occasions (the Mayor carried my kit box in from my car to one event, but I did know him before he was the Mayor) but you have to consider that if they happen to get hurt lifting something heavy or trip on the stairs while carrying your stuff that you could be leaving yourself open to a liability claim.  Most of the time I gratefully decline the offer saying I have a system.

© Shannon Fennell, 2009

with material from “Designs and Templates Volume 1” © November 2007

and “Designs and Templates Volume 2” © March 2008

Author: Shannon Fennell

Multidisciplinary artist, world traveller, make-up artist, and cheese lover. I follow a low carb lifestyle to keep my diabetes in remission. Canadian expat in the UK.

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