Wednesday, July 6, 2016

How to be Creative, Even Though You're Not!

Hello painty peeps!  I hope you all have a lovely 4th of July holiday if you're in the USA, and just a lovely regular 4th if you're in another country!

Like most U.S. painters, I was out working in the sweltering heat, making that cheddar!

hopefully I looked this adorable while working...

And because it was a holiday, I decided to make up some new designs for my choice board to go along with the stars and stripes theme.

Now, when I'm out at face and body art conventions, I hear a lot of people complain that they just "aren't creative" and that they have to copy designs from other people.

And I always say, "sure you are! You just don't know it yet!"  and then they look at me like I'm an idiot and walk away...

Don't shake your head at me Dean!

Guys, guys, guys!  You CAN DO THIS!  You too can make up your own designs!  It's fun! It's a great brain workout! AND it will set you apart from your competition.

"But Ashley, how do I change something up to be mine?"

Easy! Just think of something that you like painting/drawing and add that element to your design and it becomes yours!

Think about it this way.. what makes a Van Gogh recognizable?  It's the intense painterly brush strokes.  What do you instantly think of when you think of Picasso? Simplified shapes and flattened perspective?  Probably... and it's the same for face painting!  What do you think of when you think of a Wolfe design? Detailed realism?  or maybe Mark Reid?... Jewel tones and perfectly tapered black line work?  You can easily spot a Mark Reid design, or a Heather Green design, or a Wolfe design because they have figured out what they enjoy painting and have incorporated those ideas into their work.

So, what do you like?
Maybe it's:
-Bright Colors
-Straight Lines
-High Contrast
-Bold Line Work(a personal favorite)....

You figure out what you love and mix it into your designs.
"Man, I LOVE swirly lines!"
Awesome! So take something that we all do... maybe a Tiger.... and add that element that you love!  In this case, swirls.

I drew this with markers... don't judge
As you can see in this example, on the left I drew a typical Tiger Face, on the right I changed the lines to reflect a love of swirls!  It looks VERY different from a typical Tiger Face, but still has all of the same elements that the one on the left has!  So cool!

This idea can work for just about anything...

So, you don't really like swirls, but you LOVE thin, detailed line work... Okay, let's give it a try with our Tiger Face.

 Whoa! Now those are different.  For the new one, I thinned out all of the stripes, gave them a little wiggle, and added some tiny touches like dots, a different nose shape, and lip color!  It's detailed, but not in the realistic sense.. It has become very stylized and unique.

Both the Swirly Tiger and Detailed Tiger are great examples of how to take a normal design and make it your own.  After a while of practicing, you'll be able to give any design your own spin. 

Here is an example of a butterfly that I painted when I first began:

And here are butterflies that I did this year:

As you can see, they are a similar shape, and both have my favorite bold lines(yay!) but I figured out that I love using hearts for the body of the butterfly, and I love the look of just color and black lines.. no dots needed.   That is now my signature quick-butterfly style.  It may not be recognizable to anyone else but me, but I know that it makes my butterflies mine, and for now at least, it makes me super happy to paint them!  Later, when I'm ready to 'get creative again' I'll challenge myself to change something.. maybe add hearts somewhere else in the design?  Get rid of the black?!  Bring back lots and lots of dots?!!??!? 

Okay.. so it's not that crazy to change things up.. but sometimes it can feel like it!  haha..

So I challenge you to try it out!  Paint what makes you happy and incorporate it into your gigs.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how fun it is to get out of your same old routine.

Now, I'm not saying it will be an instant success.. there are going to be flubs along the way.  You'll try and paint Snow White, and instead of being graceful and petite, she'll look drunk and crazy....but that doesn't mean you should give up!  It just means that you figured out that the eyes should be rounder, the nose should be smaller, that maybe necks are important....

We all make mistakes...

Check out new styles of drawing! Check out some drawing tutorials on Pinterest and Youtube.. Check out different books on drawing from the library and give them a try.  You can NEVER have too much practice. Even if it isn't always with a paintbrush, practicing will always help.

I challenge you to add one new detail to your Tiger Face at your next gig!  GET CREATIVE!

Don't forget to share your ideas and attempts with me!

That's it for now! Happy painting!


p.s. find me on things!
facebook profile
facebook page
instagram for my face and body art
instagram with face art, crafting, my dogs, and everything else

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How to be a Pack Mule

Hey y'all! 

I'm finally back and ready to talk your ears off again.  I've been thinking a lot about what to make this next post about and last week it hit me!  Moving your stuff! 

Sometimes the most frustrating part about a gig can be moving from the car to the gig and back again.  Ugh... How many times have I dropped stuff?  How many times has my bag tipped over while going over a curb?  How many times did I think to myself "WHY DO I BOTHER?!"  Yea... sometimes it's a real pain in the you know what.

We are all this guy.

But lately I've really come to terms with carrying all of my crud around.  Thanks to some really cool items that make my life a LOT easier.

So, first and foremost.. let's talk about these big chairs that most of us carry around.  We all know that pretty much the industry standard is this beauty, the tall aluminum director's chair!  In fact, this is the exact chair that I have.  You can find it on Amazon for $99, and it's called the Earth Heavy Duty VIP Tall Aluminum Director's Chair.  It's a great chair!  Lightweight, comes with pockets, and very durable.

Sure, it comes with a giant bag that you could try and use, but it's really more of a pain than it's worth. 

So in comes the Back Strap!!! 

Check out Sara rocking her chair like it's nothing!

 It clips right onto your chair and then you can EASILY pop your chair on like a backpack and leave your hands totally free to deal with:
  • doors
  • car keys
  • elevator buttons
  • bags
  • shaking hands
  • handing out business cards
  • waving
  • petting cute animals
  • high fives
  • the list goes on and on!!! Imagine the possibilities!
This thing has literally been my favorite purchase for my business in the last 2 years!  Hands down.  And, to be honest.. because my chair has pockets on the side, I also stuff some of my junk into those while I have the chair on my back so that it's less I have to hold with my hands.  Am I a genius?  Maybe. Here's a video of the chair strap in action...

 You can buy your own Back Strap for your chair by click --> HERE!

Okay, so we've got our chair taken care of, but what about our other junk?  

There's paint, and tables, and brushes and, and, and....!!  ahh!   Okay, don't worry! Here's what I do...

For my paint boxes, glitter caddy, brush holder, mirror, sponges, water container, stencils, business cards, bug spray, tape, scissors, etc. I use a small carry-on size rolling case.  Mine looks like this:
I invested in a Samsonite brand because my last case fell apart.. this one has been great and has traveled around the world/country with me.  I love it!  And here's a secret when it comes to buying these things...  If you go to TJ Max, or Gabes, or Ross's, or Marshall's, or whatever your discount home goods shop is, you will probably find these at a really good price.  I bought mine there for just $60!  I went online when I got home and found that it was selling on Ebay for $200!  woohoo!   

Now what about a table?  I like to ALWAYS have a table or two in my car, because we've all been to an event and the client says "oh I put a table out for you!" and you're like.. "oh awesome, thanks so much!" and then you walk over and this is what you see....

Uhhhmmm... Thanks, no.  I'll just go grab my table from the car.

 My tables are all 4 foot long, and fold up and come with a carrying handle, like this:

So, when I walk up to a party, I've got my chair on my back, my junk all stored in my rolling case in one hand, and (if I need it) my table in the other hand.  Awesome right?

But wait, there's more!  You can stream line your stuff all to one hand!  Just pick up one of these babies:
A folding dolly!  Pop this thing open, place your table and rolling bag on it, and then bungee cord them in place(I like to criss-cross the cords for security) and you're ready to go!  with your table, chair, bag, and still one hand free to deal with doors!  Yes!  It's like magic!

Sometimes you have even more stuff to carry, like for a festival.  In that case I recommend one of these:
It's a folding wagon.  It folds up to fit in your car and unfolds to hold a ton of junk!  yea!  It's like they made them just for us... 

Well, I hope that helps!  Now you can seamlessly glide from the car to your event without having a breakdown.

Tell me your thoughts, your questions, your dreams in the comments!

Until next time, happy painting!


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Face Painting for Festivals Series: Part 3- Setting Up Your Booth for Success!

Oh man, oh man, oh man!  So you're at the festival with all of your stuff that we talked about in the last blog, now what?! 

Well unless you're amazing like Dawn Dewitt, and have a super cool face paint trailer that you can just park and open up...

Then you'll probably have to bring a bunch of stuff in a vehicle, unload it all, go park, set up, work, break it all down, throw it back in the car, go home, unload it again and then sleep.  Yay festivals, right?!

Don't worry, I've got you!  Buckle in, get comfy, find a snack, and take a bathroom break because this is gonna be a long post.  You ready?  Let's do this.

Typically fests are big, chaotic and everyone is out to get all of their junk up and running as quickly as possible, all at the same time.  It's frustrating, hard work, and sometimes soul crushing... and you haven't even painted the first face yet!

So here is how to deal.
First, you need to know WHEN and WHERE you are supposed to set up.  Most fests will send you a map, showing where your spot is. If they don't, then you need to track someone down who knows because that info is super important.  Some fests are so big that they will have scheduled "load times" where you will be assigned a time to show up and unload/load your vehicle.  Typically though, there's usually just a set up time slot the day before everything begins, and it's kind of every vendor for themselves. 

You should also know where you'll be able to park during the event. Most events will give you parking passes to park in a designated vendor area, but some are just like "good luck."  Knowing ahead of time will definitely help you prepare.

Once you have unloaded and you've got your tent up, it's time to make some really super important decisions....


Get those lights up now even if you don't need them yet. It's not worth it to try and dig them out later when it's dark and you've got a line of kids waiting.  I recommend putting them in the corners of the tent, one or two outside the tent lighting up the signs, and one in the middle pointed straight up towards the roof of the tent as an overall light.  Here is a ridiculous drawing that I made in Paint to illustrate where I'm talking about...

Tip: Bright lights help with Mogwai control.

Stations and Crowd Control!

Okay, tent? Check!  Lights? Check!  Now we gotta figure out how to move people through the tent without causing a traffic jam.  This can be... tricky... to say the least.  Honestly the best way to keep things moving and organized is to keep parents OUTSIDE OF THE TENT while their kids are getting painted. Why?  BECAUSE, THAT'S WHY.  Just kidding, that was my parental response.. Really the reason is because moms have strollers, purses, other kids, dad is holding bags, kids, giant inflatable ponies and baseball bats that they won at the Midway games... You don't need that chaos in your tent.

If possible, I will set up my chair so that it faces the front of the tent so that they can watch while waiting outside. If you're lucky and have lots of space around your tent, then you could probably set up your chair any which way you like, and have the side that it's facing be the "viewing area."  Parents can stand in the viewing area, watch, take pics, and not have to actually be in the tent.

Ideally, for my booths, I like to have a managers table up front where my booth manager greets people, takes care of money, and gives out tickets.  "But Ashley, what are the tickets for?!"  The tickets are for keeping track of how many and which faces you paint all day.  I've written this short play so that you can see how it works.

Booth Manager: "Hey y'all!  How are you?

Mom: "We're good! Is this the face paint booth?"

BM: "Yep, that's us!  How can I help you?"

Mom:"Suzy wants a Kitten Face, and Tommy wants a Puppy Face."

BM:"Okay, the Kitten Face is a pink design, so that'll be $8, and the Puppy Face is an orange design, so that'll be $5.  So that's $13 total.

[She exchanges money and takes two tickets, writing on the back of each what the kid's face design will be and hands them to the appropriate kid.]

BM: " Here is an orange ticket for the puppy, and a pink ticket for the kitten.  Please hold on to these and then give them to the face painter when it's your turn."

Mom: "Okay, thanks."

Face Painter: "Next!"

[Mom walks in with Suzy.]

FP: "Hi Sweety, hop on up here and scoot to the front.  Thanks!  Okay Mom, could you please wait in the viewing area, you can see much better from over there. Thanks! 

Mom: "oh, okay, sure!"

FP: " Hi sweety, can I have your ticket?"

[Suzy reaches into her pocket and pulls out a folded pink ticket with 'Kitten' written on it.]

FP: "Oh, you wanna be a kitten, what's your favorite color?"

[Face Painter places the ticket inside of big jar labeled TIP JAR that sits right in front of the viewing area for Mom to see.]

Suzy:"Pink is my favorite!"

FP: "Oh man, I had a feeling you were going to say that!"

[She quickly paints a kitten face and holds up the mirror for Suzy to see.]

Mom:"Wow, you're so fast!"

FP:"Thanks so much, I practice really hard to get this quick!"

[Mom places money in the tip jar right in front of her.]

Mom: "Come on Suzy so I can get a picture!  This is for you."

FP: "Thanks so much, y'all have a great day!"


So, as you can see, the booth manager(or you) gives each kid their own ticket with their design choice written on the back, and each ticket color corresponds to a price on the board.  This eliminates the need to ask the kid which face they want, and helps to speed things up.  You then place the ticket inside your tip jar, which is hopefully facing the parents.  That way you can keep track of both at once.  At the end of the day, you dump out your tickets, count up how many of each color you have, and you'll know exactly how many faces you painted, how much money you made, and which designs were more popular.

The viewing area helps to keep the parents out of the tent and gives you a designated spot for them to be hanging out in. 

The booth managers station gives everyone a place to line up and wait.  It also helps to have a "line up here" sign so that there is less confusion for everyone involved.  But don't be fooled, even if you put up a million signs with letting in size 200 font, people would still ignore them and do what they want... so having a booth manager to organize everyone is super helpful. 

I would also include(if possible) an Extra Mirror Section near the parent viewing area on the outside of the tent.  For me, this usually consists of a large full length mirror that I just bungee cord to the side of the tent.  It gives the kids somewhere to go and see themselves again, and gives the parents an extra picture opportunity.

Here is another ridiculous drawing showing my preferred layout.  Keep in mind that this is just my preference and that you should adjust things to best suit your needs out in the field.


Remember when I mentioned having walls for your tent?  Great! Cuz it's best to go ahead and put those babies up.  I would recommend putting up walls on all of the sides that you don't want open to the crowd, then folding them over like half walls.  You can buy special tent rails for this, or you can just tie some rope up fold the wall over it.  Be warned that people will try to lean on them, so I would put very prominent signs up warning people to not lean on them.  Later, if the weather takes a turn, you can pop the walls up the rest of the way and keep the wind/rain out of your booth.  Even if you're indoors, having half walls for your booth is super helpful.

What Else?!

 There are lots of other little things that will help your day run more smoothly.  Here are some more tips:

  • have an alphabetical list of all of the sign choices with their prices, so that the booth manager can add up the money totals quickly.  
  • Make an extra MSDS list for your makeup to give parents who have allergy concerns.
  • extra baby wipes for kids with food face.
  • bobby pins so that kids can have their hair back and ready to go when it's their turn.
  • removal instructions and business cards to hand out to everyone.
  • -Take food and bathroom breaks!!!!!  You will feel like you are losing time, but really you're just powering back up so that you can go even faster afterward. They are WORTH IT.  I feel like this gif is a good representation of how they will make you feel.  This goes for the booth manager too!!!
This is you, before and after a bathroom and food break!

  • Have a trash can for all of the crud kids will leave in your tent.
  • If you are allowed(check withe the event producers,) I love to play music while working.  My preference is either a Golden Oldies station or a Disney music station.  I love having things to sing along to while working... plus it's funny to see your whole line break into Hakuna Matata all at once.
  • When  it's slow, go around and collect the other vendors kids and paint them for free.. it's free advertising for you!
  • put up a hashtag for you so that people can find and tag you on social media.  Just because you don't have time to take pics, doesn't mean that the moms didn't!  When I see them taking pics, I yell "tag me!" and point to my hashtag sign.
  • If a kid has to go to the bathroom and they are next in line, give them a sticker that says "I'm next!" and let them go potty. When they come back, they can show you their sticker, and they will have a fast pass to the front of the line.  
  • Have a sign on your tip jar saying Thank You, and letting them know what the tips are helping you with.  Example "Thank you so much for helping me to pay for my student loans!"  Thank you for helping to pay for my wedding!"    I find that people are always willing to tip when they know what their tip is being used for. The year of my wedding I just wrote thanks for helping with my wedding on my sign and I made more tips than I ever had!  Before or since!  Another example was when I worked a Pet Expo. I made a sign that said,  "Help pay for these two Stinkers!" and then I had arrows pointing to super cute and funny pics of my dogs.  People loved it! 

  • At the end of the day, put everything inside your tent and zip up the walls all of the way to seal it up.  Be sure to take important things home with you, just in case someone decides to take a look around in your booth during the night.  I've never had anyone steal anything, but I've heard of it happening to other vendors.
  • If the line is crazy long, sometimes I will let the parents pay, give them their tickets and tell them that they can come back later if they want.  I let them know that they HAVE to have their tickets with them, and that when they come back they have to wait in line, no matter how long it is. Sometimes they take me up on the offer and come back in the evening when it's less busy... As long as they have their ticket, they can wait in line and get painted.. Just don't forget to collect and keep every ticket for every face that you paint!
  • When the fair is over and done with, and you've packed up, gone home and recharged, don't forget to take all of your tickets and look to see which faces were the most popular.  It might be eye opening.  Take that information and use it to better improve your choices for the next event.  Maybe you did a million $5 faces, but only 2 $10... maybe it's time to add some $8 choices for next time.. most people will pick a middle to lower price range for their kid.  If there is a design that you feel like you have to have(like that Spider Guy) but are loathe to paint, then make it the most expensive one up there. That way if you have to paint it, you can think about how much money you're getting to do so.  Works for me and Miss

Well, there you have it!  With these three blog posts, you now know my preferred way of finding a festival, preparing for a festival, and running a festival booth. If this is the first post for you, then I suggest that you go back and check out the rest of the Face Painting for Festivals Series!

That's all that I can think of...Did I miss anything?  Do you have anymore questions? Suggestions?  What's your secret to having the most perfect festival ever?  Let me know in the comments!  Don't forget to save this post, and share it with your friends! 

Happy Painting!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Face Painting for Festivals Series: Part 2- Preparing For Your Festival!

Wow!  So hopefully you now have your perfect festival coming up. ( If you're interested in getting a festival, please refer to this blog post. )  Now what are you supposed to do?!  Do you just buy a bunch of stuff?  Do you show up and hope for the best?  Do you take a table and chairs and maybe an umbrella and call it a day?

Don't fret my darlings!  We are going to figure this out together.  Mama Bird is here, and I am going to tell you everything that you need to think about when it comes to gathering your stuff for a festival!

So!  There are a few things that you probably need to have for festival work.

1.  A tent! 

Unless your festival is inside, you'll need some kind of shelter from the elements.  There are lots of tents available on the market, but the one that I recommend (from experience) is the EZ Up brand tent.  It's 10 foot by 10 foot, and has a white canopy(this is super important, more on that in a bit.)  It comes with side walls(perfect for blocking people, sun, bugs, and light breezes,) and simple tie downs.  It's easy to set up with two people(though it is possible with 1, it just requires some muscle) and won't break the bank.

Now, why is a white canopy important?  Let me explain this with a story... The first fest I did, I borrowed a tent.  I was 18 and broke, and I was thankful for the help.  HOWEVER, the canopy was pink (which was cute) and when the sun shined in, it made the colors of my paints look different!  My greens looked brown, my reds and pinks all looked the same... To say the least it was a total pain.  I bought my own tent eventually and made sure it was white.  Also, it's important to note that some fancier fairs require tents to be white, and some specialty fairs(think renaissance) require them to look hand built.  You'll have to pick the tent that best suits your needs.

2. Tent Security!

You'va got a tent, great!  Now let's get the other tent things you'll need.  The tie downs that came with your tent are probably thin rope and a long nail.  Those are practically useless in wind.  You'll want something much more substantial.  Buckets of sand/water are good, PVC filled with concrete, intimidatingly large metal stakes and straps that can ratchet down are good....  The point is that you want something that SECURES your tent to the ground.  Before I learned this, I had a tent fly away(took the crappy stakes with it) and busted in half in the process...  What a waste!  I also had a tent blow away at night in between festival days(super fun to show up to on a Saturday morning!! )  Check out these pics of tent ties:

3.  Light!

If your event is indoors, I would recommend trying to find out before hand if it's dark in your booth area, sometimes you'll need lights and sometimes you won't, but it's better to be over prepared right?

If your event is outside and goes on past sunset(a lot of fests do) then you'll need some lighting!  Good lighting could be ropes lights that you wrap around the tent frame, LED lamps that you hang up, or just good old fashioned clamp lights and bulbs.  I use clamp lights because I can put them where I want and point them in the direction that I like.  I also like to point one directly at the canopy, because the light hits the white roof(see, the white roof is handy!) and disperses the light all around.  The best places to find lights are at the hardware store and the internet.. I found all of mine at Home Depot(because it's 5 minutes from my house...)  Just remember, if you get lighting you will also need a power source, so get extension cords, power strips, batteries, etc.  Remember to check the color of the lights!  You don't want a weird color that will make your paints look off.
Some fests will charge for access to power, so keep that in mind when adding up your costs.

Good lighting examples: 

4. Tent Signage! 

Good signage is super important!!!!  People need to be able to find you, they need to be able to look around and go "there's the face painter!"  I recommend putting a sign in front and high up on your tent if possible.  It would look like this:

In fact, you can buy that actual sign from The Art Factory!

It's also a good idea to get signs for the side of the tent as well, so that people can see you from any side.
To make the sign holder frame, I just bought conduit pipes and made a frame to fit my tent.  The pipes are nice because they fit together like tinker toys and can be cut by hand with a conduit cutter.

5. Choice Signage!

Typically, having actual photographs of faces for your choice board will bring in better business than just words or drawings.  The absolute easiest ways to do this are to:
  •  Buy Face Cards, pick the designs you want and stick them on the board( I recommend the Festival Faces set, the Park Favorites set, Mystical Girls set, and the All Boys set.)  If your fest is outside, it's best to laminate your Face Cards so that they won't be affected by the weather.
  • OR- Take the NICE pictures from your phone that you have painted(make sure they are well lit, show the face, and are all about the same size of face in the pic) and get them printed.  I would have them printed at least post card size, or bigger.  Then laminate them to make them stiff and use those on your board.  You can even use a free pic editing app to add the name of the design to the pic before having it printed.  I use the Walgreen's app on my phone to upload them directly to Walgreen's and then pick them up an hour later, ready to go.
Here is what an all Face Cards board looks like... I KNOW IT'S AWESOME!

Pic courtesy of Lacey Bailey of Daydreamer Body Art, Kansas
 Choice boards should also show VERY CLEARLY how much a design costs.  I use a color system like Lacey(see above photo) where I have a color with a price and then a colored dot on the picture to show what price category it falls into.

6. Work Area!

Okay, we have our tent, lights, signs, and now we need... pretty much the most important stuff.  This will include tables, chairs, paint kit, and tablecloths.  Bring everything that you would normally need for a gig, and make sure it's heavy enough/secure enough that it won't blow away in the wind.  I don't think that I can really explain this section too much, just bring what you will need to be able to paint the designs on your board.

7. Tent Accessories!

These are the fun things, like flags, decorations, rugs, etc.  I like to bring a polka dot rug(from Ikea) and put a foam mat under it so that it's super comfy to stand on all day.  Feel free to personalize your booth however you want, but just remember wind and weight.  Wind because it shouldn't be able to blow away, and weight because you have to carry it out and there and carry it home.

8. Everything Else!  

Yes, believe it or not there is still more to bring(it's never ending....)

YES, and this stuff is SUPER IMPORTANT so pay attention!!!!

  • cash box
  • credit card reader
  • cash
  • zip ties
  • something to cut zip ties(I like wire cutters)
  • a pen
  • paper
  • a marker
  • tape
  • bungee cords
  • a wagon or dolly cart to move everything with
  • a hammer
  • some rope
  • scissors
  • sun lotion(if outside)
  • bug spray(if outside)
  • antacids/ibuprofen
  • food to snack on
  • water to drink and use 
  • a broom(to sweep the booth clean and to push water off of the canopy in case it rains)
  • a step ladder(if you're short like me)
  • phone charger
  • sunglasses
  • night glasses(if you're blind like me)
  • paper towels
  • trash bags
  • tip jar(make it noticeable!!!)
  • festival paperwork
  • business cards
  • tickets(for keeping track of your face numbers.)
  • anything else you can think of that I can't remember right now!!!  Believe me, you want to be over prepared, always.  It SUCKS to get to an event and not have [insert item here.]
Well peeps, that's your packing list!  Aren't you glad I did that for you?  Now print it, link it, save it, share it!

  Did I miss anything?  Let me know if the comments!

Next post: Setting up your booth for Success!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Face Painting for Festivals Series: Part 1-Getting a Festival

Hey Everybody! 

I hope that everyone is enjoying this beautiful spring weather.  I only want to die from allergies every other day now, so I guess you could say things are looking up!  With this beautiful weather comes the beautiful prospect of doing festivals!  Festivals can be both amazing and terrifying, so I've decided to break up my festival lecture into three blog posts.

Today's post is Part One: Getting a Festival.  This is arguably the most important part about doing a festival.  It's kind of hard to paint at one without permission from the festival producer... I mean, sure you could do it without permission, but then you'd be that person.  You would be that person, showing up with their TV tray and tiny paint kit, hawking your wares at the passersby, as they shield their children from your sight and pretend not to hear your cries "Face Painting! Get your face painting here!"  You'd sit there in constant fear of being found out, of being discovered for the fraud that you are. For shame! Don't be that person, friend. Be the better painter. The one who did it the right way, the one who shows up and proudly stands next to their giant sign that says more than words ever could "Face Painting!"

"But Ashley," you say.  "How do I get to be that awesome painter with my cool sign and my legit painting spot?"

 Don't worry little baby birds, I'm going to tell you how to do this, step by step.

STEP ONE-figure out your demographic.

If you're a kid's face painter, then you want a fest with a TON of children in attendance.  Look for fests with things like a kids area, other children's entertainment (puppet shows, costume contests, petting zoo, etc.)  If you're more interested in henna/temporary tattoos, then kids are preferable, but you could also do well at fests with a lot of adults who are drinking alcohol.  Because let's face it, no one loves to do weird and fun stuff more than people with a drink in their hand and money to burn.  Those kinds of fests will have music concerts, maybe a motorcycle show, vehicle contests, booze for sale, fancy art to buy, you know.... adult stuff.   Pick a show that fits the description that bests suits your needs.

STEP TWO-figure out if the fair will be well attended.

Some fairs are just amazing. Maybe they are located in the most popular touristy spot in your whole state, maybe they happen to fall on a major holiday, or maybe it's just incredibly popular and everyone and their grandma loves to go their.  Those are the kinds of fairs you want.  You want the fair where people go because it's practically a tradition and they would be devastated if they missed it. 

Be aware that just because a fair seems perfect, doesn't mean that it is.  I once tried a fair that was right down the street from my home. I did my research.  I made sure that it was well attended, that it would have a lot of children, and [bonus!] it was really close by!  The one thing that I never took into account was weather.  In my head I thought, it's spring, the weather will be perfect!  But you know what spring is also famous for?  That's right...spring showers and flying kites. 

Everything started out really well and then the wind started... eventually my entire table blew over, then I had to hang onto my tent to keep it from blowing away, then I let go of my tent to catch my table again and my tent really actually blew away! I chased after it and some nice folks helped me drag its sad corpse back to my spot.  UGH.  It was kind of awful.  Since then I've never done that fair again (even though it has potential to be amazing) because I know that it also has potential to be a disaster.  And every year since then I check on the weather on the day of the fest, and every year but one has been awful.  It was a lesson that I learned the hard way. 

Do your homework!  If you're considering a fest, I would definitely check how the weather was during that fest for the last 5 years. I rained 3 out of the five?  Well, maybe that one just isn't meant to be.

Another thing to consider is advertising. Does your fest have a Facebook event page?  A website? Radio spots? A commercial?  An ad in the paper?  An Instagram or Twitter account?  Fairs who put a lot of effort into being known, even if they've been around for a while, are probably going to be better than those who survive on word of mouth alone.

STEP THREE: approach the fair producer.

So you found a fair that you think will be a good fit? Great!  Now let's try and get you that spot!

First make sure that the fair doesn't already have a face painter.  Some fairs are big enough (think 100,000 people and up) for more than one painter, but most are not.  If there is already a painter, then you can approach the painter and ask if they are so super busy, would they like to bring you onto their team?  They would provide the booth, setup, booth fees, etc.  All you do is show up, paint with your kit, and then give the booth owner a percentage of your sales.  I've done this with some painters who are now some of my best friends (you know who you are and I LOVE YOU! *muah*!)  Some people might not like you asking though, so be super duper respectful, and don't step on their toes.  I repeat, be super duper respectful.  Being pushy is no way to make friends.  Also, do not go to the producer and try to steal the fair from them.  That's lame.  Don't be that person.

But hey, there's no painter at this fair!  YAY!  So in that case it's a matter or finding the producer of the event. This person is often the contact person for the show.  I often just send a short email with an introduction and a little bit about how I'm interested in providing face paint entertainment for their fair. 

Sometimes they will say, "great, I'll give you a spot!."  And then you run out and buy a lottery ticket, because you know that was too easy and it must be your lucky day. 

But most of the time, they will ask you to fill out the vendor application.  Those are pretty standard, they want your contact information, info on what you plan on doing at the fair, how big of a space you want, whether or not you want electricity, proof of insurance, and sometimes pictures of your booth and what you plan to have at the fair.  That application will also say the price of the booth.

Now the price might be totally reasonable! "Hey, $100! I can do that!"  But more likely it's going to be way more... like $$$$ to $$$$$ more.  That's because most people at fests are selling inventory and they will be making a lot($$$$$) of money at this event.  You're a face painter. You don't really have inventory, your money is wholly dependent on how many faces you can physically paint in a day.  Now you have to gently and logically point this out to your contact person.  Let them know that you provide a service and even if you painted non-stop for the whole fest, and everyone purchased the most expensive design, you could only make (insert number.)  Ask if it would be possible for you, instead, to pay the event with a percentage of your gross sales.  If you are articulate and humble about your request, and explain how you are providing entertainment to the event, and have a bit of luck, the event may grant you your request!  This approach has worked for me in the past, so it's worth a try if you just can not afford the booth fee.  Keep in mind though, that if it's a HUGE fest, then there is a good chance that booth fees are non-negotiable.  In that situation, you'll just have to weigh the pros and cons and decide for yourself.

Ask yourself things like:

-How far away is it?

-Is it worth giving up my time and other hourly gigs for?

-Will I be hurting if I don't break even?

So, now you have a festival! Congrats!  Make sure that your application, or contract that you sign with the event producer states in writing the deal that you have agreed upon. 

Now you can sit back, and start to panic while you over think how in the hey diddle are you going to put together a successful face paint booth! 

In next week's blog post: Part Two- Preparing for Your Festival!

Until then, be kind and happy painting!



P.S. Please remember that I am not a festival expert.  Take everything I've told you with a grain of salt and please, do what's best for you.  Love ya!