Shannon Fennell's Blog

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


Book Review: The Face Painting Book of Eye Designs for Boys

The Face Painting Book of Eye Designs for Boys is the fifth book in Snazaroo USA Inc.’s series of face painting books.

A book devoted to boy designs is a great idea – we all can manage fast girl designs, but boys are a bit of a challenge.  This book really does deliver a large selection of designs that will actually work for painters in real life face painting situations.

This one features the work of Kristi Darby of Pigment Pie Face and Body Art from Kansas City, MO (  Kristi is an excellent artist and all the designs in this book are really do-able and eye-catching.

Kristi did all the painting and provided the photos but the accompanying text was written by Snazaroo USA Inc. (Matthew Cole, Gary Cole, et al)  I found the written instructions overly detailed and not necessarily matching the photos I was looking at.  They also tend to be repetitive regarding adding highlights, etc. on each design.  If you have some experience painting you could just skim them and follow the photos instead.

For example, the Black Eye (page 10) instructions detailed using black, green and yellow as well as the blue and maroon, but the photos of the black eye Kristi painted show no evidence of those colours actually being used to create the very nice black eye.  The use of the green and yellow make an aged bruise, but Kristi’s is a fairly fresh one.  And using black, I would not recommend that myself as it would overpower the rest of the colours and is NOT part of a real bruise.

The layout of the book is easy to follow – two pages per design, one with step-by-step photos and instructions and the facing page has the final photo and more instructions for finishing the design (fairly standard for most step-by-step books.)  This example is my personal favourite – the Alien.  I can see this one being a huge hit with the boys (and girls too!)

Another very effective design is the Zombie Eye – something easy and fast for those squirming boys who want to be a zombie but can’t sit still for the whole full face treatment!

The book doesn’t provide any specifics or visual aids on techniques or brushes.  It goes straight into the step-by-steps which is great as you get more designs, but it may leave beginner painters hanging a bit on exactly how to get going (if they are complete newbies – tip: buy my book too if this is the case!)

There are 25 designs in total and all are worth trying out .  Most designs would be within the reach of newer painters with a little trial and error as none are technically difficult.  Most designs have a total of four photos, but several have three and there is one with five.

I definitely would recommend the book as we all need more boy designs!

Links to purchase:  Snazaroo USA  where it is at an introductory price of $12 USD, or at your usual face paint retailers (suggested retail price is $15 USD.)

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

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

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Supporting a fellow artist

If you are a member of the face and body painting community you probably have already heard of Brian Wolfe’s fight against stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

Brian, and his twin Nick, have had a massive influence on the face and body painting industry.  I know that I personally learned a lot from them.

The first time I met them in person was at the 2004 FABAIC in San Francisco.  I volunteered to be painted in their morning class (I think this was Brian – they are identical so please forgive me if I am wrong!)

He went with a green and purple Wookie to match my hair.

Their style of painting which they have shared around the world, in industry publications, and in their many books and tutorials has helped all of us be better artists.

My own painting took a leap, particularly with skulls and wolves… once you see a Wolfe version you can’t help but improve.

Painted AFTER I saw the Wolfe Brother’s work

Their books are wonderful references and inspiration for any level of face painter.  I reviewed some of them in the past – you can read those if you like Extreme Face Painting and Wolfe Bros. Cheat Book series.

Their showpeices at the conventions always knock my socks off and both of them really GIVE freely of their time and talent.

If you are in this industry you know that we are self-employed … and that means no health benefits or insurance in a lot of cases.  Brian is undergoing intensive treatments and his wife and daughter, and brother, are by his side.  The costs to fight cancer are expensive, and there is also the loss of income while that fight is going on.  Being an American universal health care isn’t available to him as it is for us in Canada, the UK and other civilized countries.

This industry is a close-knit one and many have stepped up to raise funds to help Brian and his family through various means.  Pages have been set-up to make donations, fundraisers are being organized like paint-a-thons and calendars, retailers are donating portions of sales, etc.

One fundraiser that I am supporting is a Fundraiser for Brian Wolfe being organized by Gary Cole at Snazaroo USA Inc.

Gary has organized a contest with a massive prize pool donated by the major face painting companies, artists and retailers.  So far the prizes include: $500 worth of Snazaroo products, $500 worth of Kryolan products, $500 worth of Amerikan Body Art products, classes from Pashur, Christina Davison, Glyn Goodwin, and much, much more!  The total prize pool is just under $5000 with more being added daily.

Entry fees are what will be raising the funds of which 100% will be sent direction to Brian.  $50 per photo, and you can enter any photo, even one that you’ve already entered in a contest at some point, and also as many as you want.  It is wide open to theme, part of the body but must be PG13 (so body painting photos could be cropped to enter if you wanted to enter them.)  Check out the link above for all the specific details.

This contest lets you donate directly to Brian with the opportunity to win cool stuff too.

Entries will be accepted starting Monday, July 23.  Check for more details at Fundraiser for Brian Wolfe

Other ways you can support Brian:

Brian Wolfe’s Fight for Life (GoFundMe – for donations)

Brian Wolfe’s Fight for Life (Facebook page) if you would like to donate via Paypal

Paint-A-Thon for Brian Wolfe on July 23 FABATV/Silly Farm

Calendar Project being organized by Angela Hutchinson/ColoursFXBodyArt

And there are many others doing what they can to support Brian as well in whatever way they are able.

Send out those positive thoughts, vibes, or prayers – lets make sure the universe knows Brian has our support.

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

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

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Business Tips for Face Painters, Body Artists and Make-Up Artists #5 – Advertising

May 1st means it is time for the fifth 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.

Advertising can be expensive.  Deciding if you need to spend money to do some advertising is going to be a personal choice and should be considered carefully.

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



Advertising does cost money so you will need to allow some funds in your budget if you wish to do some.  The most common form of advertising would be a listing in your local yellow pages or telephone directory.  Costs vary for this depending on your ad format and the size of your directory.  Usefulness of the yellow pages print version versus the online version is debatable.  I do not have a business listing in any telephone directory but others swear by them for getting work.

Running newspaper ads is an option too, but realistically these do not appear to be of any benefit to face painters as your target market generally will not be looking in the newspaper for your services.

Advertising in local magazines and publications can generate work – local parenting magazines, tourism or travel publications, local business guides and event listings, all provide access to your target markets.  Choose carefully which publications will actually be reaching your target markets so you can get your money’s worth out of the advertisement.

Radio ads are often offered by radio stations wanting you to provide your services in exchange for the ads.  In my opinion radio spots are not likely to get the attention of your target markets – it is difficult for them to make a note of your contact information while they are driving down the highway and hear a 15 second spot rattling off your email or telephone number!

Television advertising on your local cable channel is an option.  These ads are still and are on-screen for various lengths of time for different costs and usually have voiceovers.  You can produce yourself or pay the station to produce it for you.  I know of one painter that is doing this but she has not had it running long enough to assess the success of her investment in this.

Car wraps or signs are very useful.  There are a variety of options available for any budget.  From magnetic panels to attach to your door, to self-adhesive decals you can order and apply by yourself to professional lettering and decal application to actual car wraps in laminated vinyl coating that cover the car entirely.  You can simply put your name and telephone number on your rear side window in adhesive lettering yourself, or, go to the other end of the spectrum and have a customized full-colour wrap applied to your vehicle by a professional graphics company.

I have my vehicle wrapped – I opted to have the rear of my RAV4 from the edges of the rear side doors and the spare tire cover done.  Cost was a factor.  I got a quote for various options and selected the one that fit my budget best.  The recognition factor alone has been well worth it – when I meet people they say, “Oh! You’re the one with the cool car!”  I have had a lot of calls from people who saw my car and most of those have turned into paid work.  Somehow, the fact that my vehicle is covered in photos of giant painted faces makes me more of a professional in the eyes of the public.

I also spent the extra money to order personalized license plates – the cost was not that high and these are my plates now forever.  FACEART works perfectly with my car wrap!  The only drawback is that you need to drive very carefully as everyone, and I mean EVERYONE remembers your car and plate!  That includes every cop in town too!

I think car advertising is one of the best ways to attract attention to your business, particularly if you are parked where you are working and people see the painted faces and can get your details off your car in the parking area.  Or, when working festivals I park beside my set-up and use the car as a large billboard!  I have also had people chase me in parking lots, or come over to me at the gas station to ask for a card.  My car is often parked in the lot at a local mall directly across from a large club – which contacted me as they saw my car and wanted to book me to their staff painted for Mardi Gras.  They have had me back a number of times now to paint the staff.

Depending on how wide an area your target market covers you could also advertising in industry publications like make-up magazines, newsletters of clown alleys and face painting guilds, and using the online e-zines too.  These ads won’t necessarily increase your day-to-day bookings but will increase your profile and perhaps gain referrals for work in your area.

© Shannon Fennell, 2009

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

and “Designs and Templates Volume 2” © March 2008

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Business Tips for Face Painters, Body Artists and Make-Up Artists #4 – Target Markets

April 1st means it is time for the fourth 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.

Deciding who your preferred clients are and who you want to target with your advertising and marketing efforts is very important.  By concentrating on a specific type of customer you can effectively use your available advertising budget to get results.

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


What is Your Target Market?

As a face painter most of us at some point will narrow down our focus for marketing to concentrate on specific areas that we prefer doing for our own reasons.  A target market is the group you specifically wish to obtain work from.  In order to reach this desired group we “target” our marketing efforts towards them, therefore they are our “target markets.”

You can define your target market in many ways.  It could be a physical area – say a 50 mile radius from your home; it could be a specific type of event – say birthday parties or public festivals; or it could be specific service only – say you only want to do body painting.  How you define your own target market is completely up to you.

Here is a list of places and events where face painting could be welcome:

  • Shopping malls
  • Store grand openings
  • Birthday parties
  • Family reunions
  • Wedding receptions
  • Christenings, Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs
  • Restaurants
  • Night clubs
  • Golf tournaments
  • Hockey games, football games, etc
  • Company picnics and Christmas parties
  • Easter egg hunts
  • Rodeos and fairs
  • Farmers’ markets
  • Charity events like walks, runs, relays
  • Government open houses
  • Street festivals
  • Fringe festivals and art walks
  • Art galleries
  • Book stores
  • Dance schools and competitions
  • Theatrical education programs or theatres
  • High school lock-ins and grad parties
  • Pre-school fun days
  • School sports days
  • Museums
  • Movie theatres and movie openings
  • Store children’s program activities
  • College events
  • Music festivals
  • Large multiple sports events
  • Holiday     events – New Year, Valentine’s, St. Patrick’s, etc.
  • Regattas
  • Parades
  • Public outdoor concerts
  • Piers and boardwalks in tourist areas
  • Theme parks
  • Roadside attractions
  • Garage sales
  • Flea markets
  • Craft fairs and sales
  • Scrapbooking events
  • Store sales and special promotions
  • Indoor playgrounds and play centres
  • SPCA or Humane Society events
  • Trade shows, home shows, boat shows
  • Tourism activities – local tours, open houses, markets
  • Church fetes
  • Carnivals
  • Petting Zoos
  • Block parties
  • Community events – neighbourhood parties and get-togethers
  • Hospitals
  • Seniors’ facilities and care homes
  • Daycare centres

This is just what came to my mind.  Don’t take this as an exhaustive list as there are probably dozens of other places and types of events that I didn’t think of.

Whatever you choose as your target market you will need to plan on how to reach those individuals that fit in that group.  This is when you will need to do some research and perhaps get creative in your marketing approach.

You will need to consider where they live and work, what they read, what method of marketing or advertising would appeal to them.  You need to get your message and information in front of those people who could/would hire you.  For example, what type of advertising would reach your target markets?  To determine this may involve some research and possibly some expense on your part to develop material or advertising.  There is a considerable amount you can do for little or no cost, but there is a point where you may need to be prepared to spend to reach out to your desired customers, and that will vary depending on your targets.

Once you decide on your target, let’s say for illustration purposes that we want to reach large-scale public events such as fairs, rodeos and festivals, you need to determine who you need to get your information to and how to actually do that.

The first step is to make a list of the events you want to contact and who organizes them.  There are a few ways that you can do this: watch the newspaper and local publications for advertisements for events that suit your target market and make a note of them – location, organizing group, contact telephone numbers; check local community listings for upcoming events; look up event listings from local venues such as fairgrounds and arenas; check directories from local groups as often annual events and planning committees may be listed; check the local tourism offices for annual events; check with local volunteer bureaus for volunteer planning committees; contact charities that benefit from large events locally to get contact names and information; look up organizations in the yellow pages; churches and schools often hold fairs and events for fundraising purposes.  These are just some suggestions as there are many ways to obtain information.  Once you have a list of events use the yellow pages and online directories to fill in all the information that might be missing from your list such as mailing addresses and phone numbers.

Once you have created a list of potential clients in your chosen target area you then have to determine how you are going to make contact.  There are several ways you can do this from cold calling to a direct mail campaign.  Consider a few things to start with:

1.         How much do you want to spend on this?

I like to keep my expenses low but am willing to spend a certain amount each year on good quality marketing materials such as professionally printed full colour brochures, postcards and business cards.  I also consider postage as a normal business cost.

2.         What is your comfort level?

Personally, I loathe cold calling and it doesn’t matter to me if it is by telephone or in person for charity or personal business.  I just detest doing it and won’t do it!  But many people don’t mind doing it and can do it very successfully.  Technically cold calling is considered sales, not marketing, but when you are a one person business operation you do it all.

3.         How much time do you have to spend on this?

I like to get my big marketing projects done in one session, so spending an afternoon or evening getting a mail-out done is my preference.

4.         What contact information do you have?

i.e. an actual person’s name or just a post office box?

In many cases the only contact information available to me is an association name and post office box.  Committee members change year to year so the contact names are often out-of-date.  Get as much information as you can, but don’t let not having a name stop you from sending your material out.

5.         Is there an advertising media that the majority of your target markets would see?

i.e. the local Chamber of Commerce newsletter?

We don’t have local methods of advertising that would reach all the groups on my list so I have chosen not to spend money on advertisements locally.  In some areas there are parenting magazines that could prove useful to target the birthday party market as an example.

Given all the above I chose to do a direct mail campaign with a letter, a brochure and some business cards to all the groups I had on my list that I had mailing information for.  The first year that I did this I mailed out to 37 separate groups and companies – from that I received 11 inquiries, and 7 confirmed bookings (one of them for multiple dates.)  The second year I sent out 30 packages and got 11 bookings confirmed.  I add a few new names to the list every year and drop some unproductive ones.  A couple of years ago I switched to using postcards rather than the letters and it has proven to be just as, if not more, effective.

Something to remember too is that your target markets can change year to year.  You do not have to stick with something if it isn’t working or if you decide you want a change for whatever reason.

There are many ways to attempt to make contact with your target markets.  You can use any one or combination of methods – it’s just a matter of time and money and how much you want to spend of either:

  • direct mail with an addressed letter to the contact person
  • direct mail with form letter – not personally addressed
  • direct mail postcard only
  • cold call telephone
  • cold call in person to introduce yourself and give brochure
  • direct mail with a follow-up telephone call.
  • advertising in local publications and newsletters, i.e. Chamber of Commerce, tourism board, volunteer services bureau, Rotary Club, school districts, etc.
  • Yellow Pages and other local directory listings free and otherwise.
  • Internet listings, free and otherwise
  • Joining local business groups to network with potential customers, i.e. Chamber of Commerce, tourism board, volunteer groups
  • Advertising in local entertainment publications, newspapers, parenting magazines, etc.
  • Using your postal service household unaddressed mail delivery service
  • Posting notices/posters on community bulletin boards in stores, clubs, malls.
  • Networking with other face painters for referrals.

You should be able to make contact with your specific target markets with a bit of research, some work and minor expenses for postage and marketing materials.

The level of success will vary depending on your area’s economic prosperity and the amount and level of competition there is, but it is well worth the effort in increasing your business and raising your name recognition.

© Shannon Fennell, 2009

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

and “Designs and Templates Volume 2” © March 2008

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It’s that time again

It is renewal time for FACE members.

I spent part of today painting myself for photos to submit with my renewal application.  Every year, as an advanced member, I have to submit the three required photos that everyone has to do when they apply to become a member of FACE, The Face Painting Association – those are a tiger, a three-colour blend (NO split cakes permitted) and a white base.

In theory one could simply have photos on hand from the previous year’s work to submit, but, as I don’t take photos when I am working at regular gigs, I don’t.  It would be nice.  Sometimes I have some from theatre gigs as I do tend to take lots of photos when doing designs for a show, but this year we didn’t do any big face painting shows.

So, seeing as I procrastinated (the forms and photos are due TUESDAY) I had to paint myself three times today, take photos of myself, get all the forms completed, scan the forms and insurance documents, find a recent photo of my kit set-up at a gig, then send them all off to the renewal coordinator.

Some days I suffer from a lack of imagination, but thankfully, originality is NOT a requirement in these photos… they are just to prove your technique is still of an acceptable standard.

I was using Snazaroo black and realized when looking at the photos that some of my brushwork is a little “fuzzy”.  Not sloppy, just not as sharp as it could have been with, say, Wolfe but I didn’t want to have to clean that off my face repeatedly.  As it is my eyes are really irritated.

So, here is what I painted today…

A Tiger:

Decided to do pink this time… all my other tigers have been orange.  Kryolan white, Snazaroo pastel pink and black, and Wolfe UV pink.

A white base:

Had no plan at all, just figured I would get the base done then see what happened… we were watching “Catch Me If You Can” on TV and this is what I ended up with.  Kryolan white and royal blue.  This cleaned up like a breeze!

And a three-colour blend:

Didn’t start with a plan… just thought I’d use these colours and see what it looked like.  I should really have used a flat teal instead of a pearl teal  but, once it was done, it was done… The base is Grimas burgundy, yellow and pearl teal with Snazaroo black.


Squeaky clean!

My friend Larissa makes soap.  She and her husband run several home based businesses and soap is one of their really great products that they make under the name Reef Botanicals.  I’ve been using her Purity soap for a couple of years now… it is pure soap and is great on my skin AND practically a miracle cleaner for my brushes and sponges.

I blogged about the Purity when I first got some from her (you can read that old post here).

Well, she has now started packaging Purity especially for us face and body painters!  In a big tub that can sit on the side of the sink ready to use!  So I just have to tell everyone about it again.

I was leaving a bar sitting on a yoghurt container lid sitting there… have to admit this looks WAY better!

I am not leaving the lid on… but thought I’d show it for illustration purposes.

And this what my new tub of Purity did for me this morning:

It is much lighter.  Some colours just soak into the taklon fibre and green is one of the worst.  As long as I can lighten them to the point of NOT looking dirty/unwashed, I am happy.

But looky what Purity can do for sponges!!

Now, in order to get these kind of results you need to handwash and work the lather in, sometimes repeatedly … just saying.  Some people can’t be bothered to put that much effort into having their sponges looking new, but if you are willing you WILL get results like this.


Business Tips for Face Painters, Body Artists and Make-Up Artists #2 – Marketing Your Services

Here is the second excerpt from my e-book The Business of Face Painting.  I’ll be posting one a month for all of 2012.  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.

Marketing is a key part of having a successful business.  I try to concentrate on my marketing efforts at the slower times of the year which for me are usually January and September, and keep on top of things throughout the year taking advantage of opportunities that arise.  In my book I cover in detail the specifics of what I do to market my services and the tools that I use.

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


What is Marketing?

Marketing is the process of attracting the interest of potential customers in your face painting services.

The important word in this definition is “process” as marketing is a continual process involving research, promotion, sales and distribution of your services.  To put it simply, marketing involves everything you do to get potential customers together with the service you are offering.  What you do to accomplish this can change over time and with your interests.

Creating a marketing plan for your face painting business is part of the business planning process (there is that word again – it is a continual process!)  To keep it relatively straightforward when you are starting out just concentrate on the basics:

  • products and/or services
  • promotion
  • distribution
  • pricing

The goal of any marketing plan is to get and keep a growing list of satisfied customers. Creating and implementing a marketing plan, no matter how simple, will help you to keep your efforts focused on your end goals and increase your potential for success.

In Chapter Three the marketing plan was briefly noted as part of the business planning process.  As it is so essential to the success of your new business endeavours I will spend this chapter going over the key marketing ideas  that I have learned are the most important to face painters.  I will also explain the tools and techniques that I have personally found to be most successful.

Your Marketing Plan

Take some time to write out your answers to the questions and any ideas you have – this does not have to be a narrative, just list in point form all the things that come to mind.  I’ve made a template you can use to do this exercise and it is at the end of the chapter. Once you have made your notes you can summarize them and include it in your business plan.


Your product is your face painting services (or whatever services or products you choose to provide.)  The key things you need to determine are: What are the features of your services?  Describe your services.  How do they differ from the competition’s services?  What are your unique selling points – this means, what makes your services different or better?  How will your services benefit your customers?  What is the message that you want to communicate to your potential customers about your services?


How are you going to let your potential customers know about your face painting services?  You will need to know who your target market is by determining who your potential customers are – I will cover this in detail further on. List all the ideas you have to promote and advertise your services and the options that are available to you in your area.  This is everything from business cards, brochures, flyers, posters, direct mail, website, yellow pages, advertising, coupons, demonstrations, give-away items, email campaigns, directory listings, teaching a class, writing an article, getting in the paper, etc.  List everything you can think of and then narrow it down to those that are either easy and/or free or within your budget.


In our business distribution consists of us attending the client’s location and delivering our services.  You can be specific on your methods of transportation, necessary equipment such as a booth and furniture.  Are there costs associated with delivery to the customer?  This area also covers billing and payment for services provided.  What are the terms and methods of payment?  Do you offer credit?  Do you provide any warranties or guarantees?  Is there a system for customer feedback?


Setting your price was covered in detail in Chapter Two – Money Matters.  You can charge anything you want but you need to be competitive and make a reasonable profit.  Customers will not spend more than they have to and if you charge too much for your market area you will lose them to the competition.  Use the Excel spreadsheet provided in Chapter Two to calculate your costs and help you to set a fair and reasonable rate for your services.

Once you have covered these four points include the information in your business plan or if you chose not to prepare a business plan, then put this together as a marketing plan.

Take all of the items you consider important and prioritize them, research the costs of those items you wish to use so you can budget accordingly, set a schedule for taking action and then check them off as you complete them.

Writing this all down will help you to stay on track and to monitor the success of your plan.

The rest of this chapter will address the specifics of marketing in the face painting industry based on my experience and what I find to be the most successful.  Market areas can be very different so what worked excellently for me might not necessarily work as well in your area, or, something I found not worthwhile may prove to be your most successful tool!  So do not be afraid to try out something to see if it will work for you.

Creating a Brand or Corporate Image

When you begin to market yourself you are creating a brand.  You are creating a recognizable entity, a company, a service, that people will recognize as being professional, valuable, worth paying for and they will be willing to pass your name along to their friends and family.

When setting up yourself and your business, creating a brand is something that you probably didn’t think about.  But just by producing some business cards you have started the process.

We are in a visual industry and what we do is represented by visual images – be it the child getting out of our chair with their face painted, or photos of our work in our portfolio, or our clothes and working set-up – it’s all visual.  So do you not think our marketing should be visual as well?

Think about it… what are you marketing?  Your artistic services.  What is the best way to let people know what you do?  Show them.

I know that for a lot of people starting out that the cost of full-colour marketing materials might seem to be more than you can afford but… can you afford to miss out on the work that better marketing materials will generate?

Everyone should take time to consider their business image before getting that first batch of business cards made.  I know it is just a business card to get your phone number out there… but it is also an advertisement that people will have in their possession and possibly pass along to other people, thereby creating an image of your business.

If you are just starting out, or even if you are established in the industry, take a look at your marketing materials.  Lay them all out at look at them… your business card, flyers, brochures, signs, displays, letterhead, posters, resumes, portfolios, business proposals, and your website too.  Now, is there a “look” to your materials that sets them apart from another artist’s?  Can you see a brand – meaning, is there a look to your materials that carries over from one to the other so that people can tell from a glance that it is from you?  Do you have a slogan or tag line that appears on all your material that is associated with you?  Do you use the same font on all your print material?  Do you use the same colour paper?  Do you have one image – a logo or photograph – that you use on all you material that is identified with you?  Do you have a common design element in your materials, for example a black background with yellow print?

It may seem trivial but image counts in this industry as in any other; perhaps even more so.  Taking the time when you are first starting out really can make a lot of difference later on.  It is not hard, but you need to think about what the image is that you want to present and if that will cover all your endeavours if you choose to expand your business offerings at a future date.

Take some time to brainstorm ideas… where do you want to go with your business?  Is your market going to be strictly face painting or only body painting, or both?  Are you offering other make-up services?  Do you do other forms of entertainment, balloons, hair, nails, etc.?  Do you plan to, or even think there is a possibility that you might expand your services in the future?

Do you have a name for your business that identifies what it is that you do?  Does the name you use have a good connotation?  You have to decide on whether you want to name your business, if so you’ll need to find out whether you can register or copyright it if you decide to go that route.  Do some research to make sure that you aren’t using a name that is already in use, particularly in your area, even if it is in another industry. You could decide to just use your own name (which I have done.)  It is all totally up to you.  But pick something that you will be happy with long term as once you’ve started the process of building your brand and reputation connected to that name, you may be stuck with it.

Get some good photos of what you do – really good photos.  You don’t need a professional photographer but take some care when taking the photo, use a background that will be suitable for your print material design (my background is black on my print materials so I take all my photos against a black backdrop,) make sure it is in focus, clear and of a good subject.  If you do different things have photos of samples of all of them.  Then you need to examine them all… get family and friends, co-workers and fellow artists to help you.  Narrow down which photo you think really illustrates who you are and what you and your business do.  If you do many things then arrange to take a group photo showing everything or maybe create a collage; whatever you decide to do, be sure to pick a fantastic image that you will be happy with for a long time so you won’t have to redo your materials very often.

Or you could choose to go with a graphic logo to identify with your brand and image.  This decision is all yours.  But pick something that you can live with as you should not be changing it every year.

Once you’ve decided on what visual image you will be using on your materials then you need to produce those materials.  When I first started I printed off my own business cards on my computer using photographic business card paper that is available at office supply stores.  They seemed to be less costly than having colour cards printed.  But when you consider the cost of ink/toner and the special paper they really weren’t.  I give out cards like candy and having to re-print almost weekly was costing me a fortune in toner.  So I went to a printer and had a full-colour business card produced and it cost me much less than doing it at home.  The card is full-colour on one side and black print on the other.  The printer’s designer helped fine tune my design and I am very happy with it and have carried the design over to my other marketing materials such as postcards, brochures, and use a modified version on my letterhead and display materials.

Once you’ve got your business card printed you have started your branding process.  From this point on you will be recognized based on this image and that of your business practices and talent.  It all ties together.  But the printed material will be what most people will see and remember as they will have it in their possession long after the make-up is washed away.  By using a visual image you are reinforcing to anyone looking at that business card that you are an artist, that you are a professional and that you do great work.  You are establishing your brand in the market place and setting yourself apart from the rest which makes you more memorable and therefore more marketable, which leads to more work and business success.

So take that extra time to decide what you want people to think when they hear your name or see your business card and it will pay off for you in the long term.

© Shannon Fennell, 2009

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

and “Designs and Templates Volume 2” © March 2008

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Just for fun

Painting licensed characters and/or emblems is often something we, as face and body painters, get asked for – from Spider-Man to the Hulk to Sponge Bob to Winnie the Pooh to NHL logos.

Spider-Man has long been a staple of EVERY face painters repertoire. Can anyone, who has been painting professionally for any length of time, claim to have NEVER painted a Spider-something??  It is sort of a right of passage to  being able to call yourself a “professional”!!

I try not to use licensed characters in my promotional material, but I will paint them if asked AND I know how or the customer can produce an image for me to copy from.  Face paint washes off and I don’t do pay-per-face so I’m not too concerned about the Disney police – although, I don’t paint many Disney characters!  But now that Disney own the Marvel stable of characters, INCLUDING Spider-Man, things may change.

I have painted cartoon characters for contest purposes…. including [whispers] Disney…

This is my Lady and the Tramp (Disney) design that won the 2006 Fantasy Worldwide Face Painting Contest in Belgium, the theme was Movies:

Here are a few I did for the 2006 UK Face Painting Convention photo competition – the theme was Cartoons:

Pinky and The Brain (Warner Bros.):

Batman (DC Comics): 

Road Runner & Wiley Coyote (Looney Tunes):

Those were all done for competition (and some also subsequently published in various magazines).  I don’t show these on my display boards when working… as replicating designs in detail is way too time consuming.

When asked for, I paint Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles… I find them not too hard to do quickly.  I stick to G1 Optimus Prime though, other versions get too detailed!

On kids I skip the  mouth opening and make it a solid white mask as shown in this clipping:

Have to keep the line moving, you know!

I also have to admit to basing some designs for theatre on Disney’s versions… [sigh] What else could I do when the costume designer made Baloo a  BLUE bear????

I avoid doing sport logos… they are too fiddly and time-consuming.  Have you SEEN the Edmonton Oilers logo???