Day in the life of
Face Painter – Irina Patterson
Being a Face Painter is a gig job. Usually, on weekends. A typical gig is from 1-5 hours. It can be from 3-5 gigs on Saturdays and Sundays. I love to paint and love people. I get to sit in front of a kid with my paints and brushes and paint flowers, superheroes, and butterflies on their faces and arms. Parents stand around me and say, Ahhha, you are so talented. I get paid from $70 to $200 per hour.
If I wish, I can walk into any ice cream shop or a pizza place on any weekend and ask for their permission to set up my face painting table in or outside of their shop, and start painting for tips. But I have enough private gigs booked in advance since I have been doing it for almost 20 years.
- Very enjoyable if you like to paint and like people. Artists, painters, like myself, need to paint. It is in our blood. I can do it all day long. It is about getting your color fix. Playing with colors and lines and shapes. Inventing your designs. Moving the brush just right. The composition should have a perfect balance. I am a trained artist. In my native Russia, I studied painting in a four-year art school. Yet, I do not enjoy painting all alone by myself. I need people standing around me. Painting at parties is perfect for me. I know I am getting paid. I get immediate feedback from the people. A kid once said to me “You are so talented!” Then, corrected himself, “Scratch that, you are beyond talented.” Now, If I don’t have a great day, I think of that random comment and immediately feel better.
- Flexible, mostly weekends gigs. 90 percent of all events are on weekends. I work if I want and I usually want. But, I am in total control of my schedule because I am the boss. I can take as much time off as I want.
- One can be doing something else on weekdays. Weekdays are free. I double in many projects during weekdays. I write personal essays and poetry and work on a book and a play.
- Relatively high pay, $70-$200 per hour. I started working for tips. I paid a rental fee of $75 a month at a Miami mall. For that fee they allowed me to set up a face-painting table on their premises. I made that $75 back on my first day. I was happy. In two months I learned that there are places that would pay you instead of you paying them. I moved to a pizza restaurant. They paid me $50-$100 for 3-4 hours on weekends and the customers gave me tips from $1 to $20. But the best part was this. While I was entertaining at a restaurant, I was getting bookings for private parties, and those were much more lucrative deals per hour. I could charge from $70 to $200 per hour at a private party. And some parties could be as long as four hours. Once I did an eight-hour party but that’s rare.
- You are your own boss. There is nobody to tell me how to do my job. I book events I want. I paint what I enjoy painting. I learn ways to maximize my pay and my pleasure. It always comes down to making my customers happy and then happier. I never charge my clients in advance. We agree on how much it would be per hour, but I do not take deposits. I ask them to pay in full at the event. In most cases, they pay more, either because they ask me to stay longer or because they add a generous tip. I find this fascinating.
- You need to hustle and create your own opportunities. Because you are your own boss, you need to find your opportunities. Nowadays, online marketing helps. I have a Google listing and a page on Gigsalad, a platform for event entertainers. It also helps to have repeat business and referrals from events. I have repeat clients going back as far as almost 20 years.
- You need to love painting and love people. If you love painting but don’t enjoy people, it would don’t work. Period. This work is very up-close and personal engagement with live people. If you enjoy people and not such a great painter, it could work. The quality of your art is not critical, as long as you know the basics of painting, but your love for doing your work and your joy of being with people is a must.
- You need to move from a gig to gig and all over your area. I love the opportunity of moving all over the area for my gigs. I work from Miami to West Palm Beach and that is a 100 miles stretch. I visited many amazing places, posh private residences, disadvantaged neighborhood churches, and almost every sports stadium and tropical park in South Florida. But it could be seen as a disadvantage. Every time you must locate the place of your gig on the map and not know what to expect.
- You need to learn the basics of being self-employed. Being self-employed has its own expenses. You will have to buy your supplies and pay for advertising. You’ll have to pay for licenses, insurance, and quarterly taxes. There are transportation expenses. You’ll need to keep records and manage your schedules. It is not like you show up at some place for work and leave at the end of your shift. You are working for yourself, by yourself.
- Not scalable as many other businesses are. It is a lifestyle business. There are so many businesses and jobs with a better return on your time. Only consider doing it if you enjoy this specific lifestyle, this business will not make you rich. Yet, it could make you happy.