You had the whole party planned and NOW your child tells you they want a face painter, you start frantically searching the internet and there are so many choices-so how do you choose?
First breathe, remember this is the fun stuff in life. It doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming if you are prepared. I am going to share with you my top 6 insider tips on finding the best artist for your birthday party and the 1 thing you should avoid.
How do I know the best questions to ask? I have been a face painter for 12 years and I am a Westchester mom just like you.
1. Review your guest list– Count every child over the age of 3. This is the number you will ask for in your quote and be honest. Thinking that not every child will get painted is a gamble equivalent to thinking not every child will eat pizza. Not every child will eat a full slice but some will eat more than you thought. You don’t want to book the wrong amount of time and be disappointed the day of your party if the artist cannot stay to accommodate the additional children.
2. Be realistic about the time it will take– The average number of guests an experienced professional face painter can paint in an hour will be between 10-12. This takes into account the decision making process of a sugared up 4-year-old, repainting a crying tiger and being challenged by your twelve-year-old to paint something no one has ever heard of before.
3. Narrow down your options- Ask your friends, ask the other moms at school and ask on local mom’s groups on social media. Follow up with the names that come up a lot. You want an artist that is highly recommended and has a lot of repeat customers in your community. You are trusting someone to come into your home you want to pre-qualify them before you start asking for quotes.
4. Know your numbers- The average price will vary based on the artist’s experience. In our area you can expect a quote between $125 to $150 an hour. Be wary of numbers way lower and way higher. You are paying for quality specialty products for the use on skin, experience, speed, variety of designs, travel, insurance and a whole lot of dedication and patience. This is hands down the best job you can have ever have but there are expenses to running a sustainable business and if someone is charging $50 an hour chances are they will not be available next year for your next event.
5. Be prepared for your quote- Put all the relevant information in your email. Date, Time, Location, number of guests and special requests. This will cut down on the back and forth emails and save a ton of time. Your artist will be able to discuss availability and deliver a quote to you. If you want to chat ask to schedule a phone call. Scheduling time to speak means both of you will be available to speak – weekends are the absolute worst time to call a face painter because well …they are painting.
6. Go to Contract- When you have come to an agreement and have received a contract -Read it, approve it, send it back with your retainer. You are not on the calendar if you have inquired but haven’t committed. You just went through all that trouble to find the right artist available on the right date at the right time- do not lose them now! You are not the only party going on especially during peak days, the first contract back gets preference. You do not want to start all over again or worse call to see where the artist is the day of your event and find out you never booked it.
And the number one mistake you can make is sending out the invitations without booking your artist.
If you have chosen one of the most requested dates for face painting and the invitations have gone out you run the risk of disappointing your child as well as your guests when all the best artists are already booked. You will have no choice but to take what you can get. So as soon as you have an idea that you are a going to start planning a date get in touch with your artist and check availability and go to contract before you send out the invitations.
Through this whole process remember a great party is a collaborative event, the time you put in before will make your day run smooth and you will be able to relax and enjoy the big day. When it’s over you will have great pictures, amazing memories and 365 days to plan the next one!
Originally published in Westchester Family Magazine