You’re planning an event, and you want to hire a face painter to entertain your guests. But when the quotes begin to roll in, you’re a little shocked by the prices. While newer or less established face painters might have low rates while they’re starting out, many face painters, those with nice websites and samples of exceptionally skilled face painting which include clean lines and detailed designs, are in the $100 to $150 per hour range. Your first thought is either going to be, “This artist is fabulous, and she’s worth every penny,” or “Why does she charge so much?”
The best answer to the question of cost is that face painting is a business. While most face painters have chosen their vocation because they love what they do, at the end of the day, they can only continue to operate if they run their business like a true business, and businesses require investments of money and time. So what are some of the costs of running a face painting business which determine an artist’s hourly rate?
The time cost
While your face painter may only spend an average of one to three hours at your event, that’s not the only time she puts in working on it. She uses some of her time to travel to your event, set up before it starts, and close down when it ends. This averages from 60 to 90 minutes per event. She doesn’t charge you directly for this time, but she incurs it for every event. She also takes the time to clean and disinfect her kit each time she uses it, cleaning her paint palettes, brushes, sponges, table cloth, and chair cover. She also spends time sending out quotes (to you and to other potential clients), managing a website, marketing her business, practicing designs, planning new designs, designing business cards and signs, keeping financial accounts, and researching and preparing for special party themes. Again, you aren’t charged directly for these time costs, but the average face painter will spend at least 10 to 20 hours per week on them, and possibly more.
The money cost
Sometimes a parent will comment, “What a great business. All you have to do is buy some paint, so it doesn’t really cost that much.” On the outside, the face painter keeps smiling and painting. In the inside, she’s shaking her head in disbelief.
Because face painting depends largely on an artist’s ability to travel, a face painting business is expensive to run. Approximately ten to fifteen percent of the gross income for a face painter goes to travel, which includes gas and car maintenance. For face painters who operate in the heart of large cities, it may include public transportation or taxi costs. Other expenses include high quality face paints which are FDA compliant, your kit, liability insurance, chairs, tables, quality brushes, visual reference materials, canopies, table cloths, a camera, a website and a multitude of other supplies. The list could go on. Some expenses are optional, but most are important for face painters who want to stay competitive. Many face painters also invest in classes which are given by master face painters either online or in person.
Once a face painter has deducted all of the expenses listed above, which come to about 40 percent or more of her gross income, the government takes about 30 percent of whatever is left. Self-employment tax approximately doubles what a person running her own business pays for taxes over what a person employed by a company pays. When you split up what’s left by the hours a face painter puts in during the week as well as the time spent face painting, the result is a modest amount which is far smaller than the initial fee charged to a client.
So next time you hire a face painter, don’t be shocked by her rates. She loves what she’s doing, but it’s still a business. The costs are high, but the income is not when it’s spread out over the time invested to keep it running successfully.
When looking for a face painter, don’t be quick to settle for a low price. Examine the artist’s gallery for quality in workmanship. More expensive face painters bring speed, skill, and experience with them. They’re more likely to have liability insurance and higher quality face painting supplies. This is going to translate into a better and safer experience for the guests at your event, and it is worth the extra investment on your part to hire a professional artist who knows what she’s doing not only in painting, but in running her business.