You're planning an event, and you've decided it would be fun to feature a face painter since face painting is wildly popular with children. Your event committee balks at the price of a professional, however, and suggests that you purchase a few face paints at the local craft store and engage some amateur volunteers instead, because they are far cheaper.
You begin to wonder if the committee has a point. What are the advantages of hiring a professional over an amateur, anyway? How much of a difference could there possibly be? To answer this question, you should know what you should expect if you hire a professional, because some of these characteristics may be lacking in the performance of an amateur volunteer, and in retrospect, you may have wished you had considered them.
Professional skill level
Most professional face painters have invested a great deal of time and money in order to become the best face painters possible and to continually improve. Most of them attend workshops, classes, and conventions, or pay for online classes. They join face painting groups and forums which challenge them to try new ideas and increase their skills. They research designs for events so they're ready for anything clients may ask them to do. Don't assume that anyone who grabs a brush and a some face paint will produce the same results as someone who has been training and practicing for years. Face painting is harder than it looks, simply from the standpoint that your canvas is a wiggling target which is not flat.
The best way to determine skill level is to look at photos of what a face painter has done in the past, so before you hire one, look at her portfolio and ask yourself some questions. Is her personal work at the level which you'd like to see at your event? Are the colors vibrant and well blended? Are the brushstrokes crisp and sharp? Do the designs accent the facial shape? Are the photos the artist's own, or did she take them from someone else's website? (If you do an internet image search and the photos come up elsewhere, check with the artist, since it's possible someone else is using her photos rather than the reverse.)
Kids are more discerning than you might think, and some will income protection insurance come with expectations of good quality face painting. While there are those who will be thrilled with anything they receive, others will know the difference between a fantastic Spiderman mask with sharp webbing and a strangely undefined design in which their faces have been sponged with green and pink circles have been drawn around the eyes.
This will vary between face painters as well as between their designs, since some are quicker than others, but the industry standard for the average number of designs a professional face painter can produce in an hour is 10 to 15. This is the normal expectation for private parties, during which guests are likely to request more elaborate designs which have extra details and perks such as liquid bling and gems. Some face painters offer high-volume event estimates and can do more designs per hour by offering a limited grouping of choices which contain simplified, quick designs.
Speed depends on the individual painter, but in any case, a professional can generally produce higher quality face painting at a much quicker rate than an amateur volunteer. Part of this is because professionals repeat designs so frequently that they have memorized them and know the most efficient way to complete them. Also, a professional uses her equipment so much that brushwork has become second nature for her. Professionals practice constantly. Even artistic amateur volunteers are going to struggle with speed, because while they may have a knack for painting, they haven't been practicing face painting hour after hour.
Professional quality face paints and materials
A face painter's kit costs between $300 and $1000 or possibly more, depending on her set up. The paints alone are expensive, generally running between $8-$20 per color or $8-$18 per split cake, but a professional face painter will also have high quality brushes for crisp line work, many sponges so she doesn't re-use the same ones on different children, cosmetic quality glitter which is designed not to cut the eye, and other equipment to make sure she can safely do her best work on each child.
More than one face painter has cringed after arriving at an event to discover a face painter using substandard face paints or acrylic craft paints. The liability hazards alone should be enough to give any organization a pause before choosing this option.
Hygienic practices and a clean, orderly kit
Face painting is a largely unregulated industry. This means it's up to face painters to act responsibly and up to event organizers and parents to make sure they only allow kids to be face painted by face painters who use hygienic practices to insure a safe and quality experience for children. If you're not sure what your face painter can provide, ask her for a photo of her face painting kit and set up, so you can see what she's going to bring to your event. Ask her other questions, such as, does she re-use sponges on different kids? How does she clean her brushes? Does she have a well-child policy in place to prevent the spread of illness?
When she arrives, her kit should be clean and orderly. This includes her kit interior, water wells, sponges, brushes, stencils, chair cover, and table cloth. During the event, her kit and water may become a little painty, but most face painters change out water and wipe down their kit as necessary, even when busy.
While not every professional is an insured performer, many are, because corporations and businesses generally will not hire a face painter without proof of liability insurance. If you're hiring someone for any type of public event, this is something you should consider.
Solid business skills
Professionals are running a business. Amateurs are not. A professional is highly motivated to use strong business skills so she can grow her business and keep clients happy and returning to her for business.
You can expect a professional to use good communication skills. This includes returning calls, texts, and emails promptly. She knows what questions to ask her client so she is completely prepared for each event. She reiterates the event information to confirm it and make sure there are no mistakes. She may use a contract to make sure there are no questions about what her responsibilities are and what is expected of the client. In most cases, she will send an extra reminder and confirmation a few days before the event to make sure plans have not changed on the part of the client. A professional will also be punctual, arriving early enough to set up and be ready to begin on time.
Good people skills with both kids and adults
It's not easy to maintain a smiling, calm visage with an hour-long line of kids and adults hovering as they wait for their turn and sometimes jostle you as you paint. Face painters have shared stories about everything from inebriated parents barging up and demanding face painting (in spite of the line) to all-out fights breaking out between waiting moms (some requiring security or police intervention). Face painters run into quite a few people issues while working at events and parties, so you should hire a professional who, although she may not able to please all of the people all of the time, will at least have worked on her ability to be courteous, thoughtful, and professional while handling problems which arise.
Ready for the unexpected
A professional face painter will have learned from past experiences, and thus will have emergency equipment, such as emergency lighting, extra table cloths or chair covers, extra paints, and disinfecting supplies. Amateur volunteers generally don't have as much experience to draw from, and so are unlikely to bring more than the bare necessities. If the organization is supplying materials, they may possibly have omitted some equipment which would be helpful, since they may not be aware of everything a face painter would need in the course of an event.
Everyone starts somewhere. Many professionals were at one time amateurs who volunteered to help out at an event and then realized how much they loved face painting. There's nothing wrong with starting there as a face painter. But as an event organizer, you also have a responsibility to provide high quality, safe, hygienic face painting for the kids at your events. In most cases, you won't find the skill, speed, or quality supplies in auto insurance companies the hands of an amateur, and you should take this into consideration when hiring someone for your event. If it's simply impossible for you to cover the cost of a face painter, consider options such as contacting local businesses for sponsorship of face painting or allowing the face painter to provide her services on a pay per face basis.
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