WHY do you do that? Q&A for a TAG Artist: Face Painting!
This is the first of a series of "Why do you do that?" articles that may serve as helpful advice for other budding artists in various areas.
A little back story on our motivation for these articles: Particularly in our TAG Art culture, we've grown and matured (and continue to do so!) and have been blessed with these pearls of wisdom along the way. In the end, we've found whenever you focus on the best experience possible for the guest, you'll also achieve being the best option for your client. If you focus on being "the best" first, you'll find nothing but frustration.
For artists who are just starting out, looking to prove themselves, or are a bit obsessed with fame, remember "more money, more problems" translates to any pursuit of ego.
There's always someone who can do as well or better in something (not everything, thank goodness!) than you. Accolades and awards are just like name dropping. Humility brings greater reward. Be YOUR best.
Of course, take these tips with a grain of salt. We have found these "best practices" to work very well with our client base, but you might find differently - or you might have additional tips and tricks to add to the collective. Feel free to comment or share via email! firstname.lastname@example.org
Face painting Q&A:
1) Why do you use makeup and not just paint?
Some products are marketed as "face paint" and are hypoallergenic (but that just means it won't kill you.) Paint is still paint and like many items can have an expiration date. Mold can develop quickly and essentially you'll be painting ringworm onto guests' faces. You may not even know it until it's too late. Always use high quality anything that may touch someone's skin.
2) Does a brush have to be expensive and especially labeled as a face paint brush to work well?
NO! We've had great success with fine art brushes. Check out an art supply store near you - play with the brushes, see how they hold their shape, how they feel on your skin. The same results fine art painters are looking for in a tool apply to your skills. Sometimes a #2 pencil (also labeled "HB") will cost you $2 more just because it's an "HB" and not just in the school supply section.
3) Do you use just brushes? Sponges? Stencils?
Whatever works best for the result - as long as you're staying neat and clean. Too many artists think a sloppy station is part of what the client should accept when hiring an artist (a "creative mess") and that's nonsense. You can have a clean artist who produces clean results.
4) How clean are you?
We use a wash-rinse-repeat after every color, even on the same person. The water contains a little dish soap so the brush is cleaned after every use. We don't mix colors either. Get the dedicated color for the dedicated use. Cross contamination can occur and it also makes you look dirtier, which hurts the entire market.
5) What about optics?
Optics are how you're perceived. Perception is (often and sadly) reality. Which looks better, a professional seated or a professional standing ready to assist? Someone hunched over a guest or someone who maintains as much space as possible? Pandemic notwithstanding, you can work closely but also safely (wear a mask and gloves if you need!)
6) What about dress code?
Again, optics. Do you want a short-shorts, sandals and tank top artist or do you want someone who matches your company dress code to be a part of your event? There is such a thing as too casual. Cover up parts of your body that can smell, be a distraction, or get in the way - don't be a dirty bohemian. Clients don't want that, they just don't know they can have what they really want.
Practically speaking, socks and shoes are protective. Do you want a child to accidentally land on your bare or exposed feet? Have a buffer.
You're in the space of a stranger and you are a stranger to that person. They don't want to endure your hair in their face, smell your breath or learn about your tattoos. It's not about judging, it's about alienating people who are trusting you to be around their boss, children, HR, all of the above.
7) How do you avoid being overwhelmed?
Stick to your policies. Have them in writing and agreed to in advance. The client agrees and has no wiggle room.
Stick to what you do best. Don't take special requests because you'll open the door to ALL requests and then be accused of inferiority, playing favorites, it's a slippery slope.
If you're not comfortable painting a part of a face or body, DON'T. You'll be the scapegoat if someone gets an infection because you painted over acne or a rash and then moved on to the next guest.
People will rise to your expectations and standards. Don't lower yourself to theirs.
8) Full face or small items?
No one asks us to slow down and show off. They want everyone to be taken care of. As the adage goes, you can have good, fast, cheap but you can only pick 2. Most clients want fast and cheap, which means small items.
Watch out for precedence and be on the same page as your possible co-artists on this one. If one of you is showing off, (ego) then it puts the others in an impossible situation and someone is going to be the scapegoat.
You may have a gig where you are expected to render full face and show off. If you have a client who understands AND has your back when it comes time to cut things off, enjoy that gig! They don't happen often.