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Business Tips for Face Painters, Body Artists and Make-Up Artists #8 – Hourly vs. Pay Per Face

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August 1st means it is time for the eighth 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.

When you decide to work as a professional face painter you generally have two options for getting paid for your services – charging a set hourly rate or charging each person you paint which is referred to as “pay per face”.

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


Hourly versus Pay-Per-Face

The previous section used an hourly rate for illustration purposes as it is easier to show, but as a face painter you can choose to work on a pay-per-face basis instead.

For face painters who are working at large fairs or high volume events as vendors charging for each face painted is the norm.  Typically they will set-up a booth offering face painting to anyone who wants to pay for the design they choose.  In situations like this, where you set-up a booth at a fair, you would most likely have to pay the organizers of the event for the right to do this.

Events typically sell the right to set-up as a vendor.  Vendors’ fees vary widely from a small percentage of your takings to large lump sums.  For large established events such as state fairs, trade shows, etc. you can ask for attendance numbers from previous years to calculate the potential for income.   You need to be able to cover the costs you’ve incurred to set-up your booth as well as all expenses you usually have.  You also need to be able to physically be able to paint enough faces to make as much money as you possibly can at the event.  Additional painters may be required to maximize that earning potential.

What to charge per face is something you need to decide.  You need to cover your actual costs per face of course, but will you charge a flat fee no matter what the design is or will you have a scale based on the size or complexity of the design?  You will have to assess what others in your area are charging and whether the public in your market area is willing to pay those rates.  I’ve seen full face designs range from $5 to $25 depending on the location of the event.

You don’t need to panic if you decide on a rate and then discover it is too high or too low at a particular event as you can simply change your sign.  Take along some signs with higher or lower rates and use a system where you can simply change what you have on display.

There are opportunities to set-up without paying vendors’ fees as well at smaller events or community based activities.

The big concern with working pay-per-face is that there is the problem of having no faces to paint.  This could be for a variety of reasons such as bad weather, badly organized or advertised event, poor location, lack of children in attendance, etc.  These are things beyond your control and it can be a gamble.

On the flip side it can also be extremely profitable if the event is hugely busy, you paint super fast, people are willing to pay for the higher priced designs, etc.  I know of painters who can net $1,500 per day at festivals.  But expect to work hard for extremely long hours without proper breaks and be ready for stress and exhaustion.

Pay-per-face is not for everyone.  It isn’t for me. I work by the hour only so when I work at a festival it is because I have been hired by the organizers themselves or by a vendor or sponsor.

© 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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