How Much Should I Charge for Face Painting?: Part 1

by Philadelphia Tivoli · 43 comments

I was recently asked this question on the blog, and I’d love to give you a straight up answer, but alas, I can’t! There are heaps of different things to consider when it comes to pricing your face painting services, so instead of giving you one number, I’m going to tell you what to consider, so that you can come up with your own prices that are fair to both you and your customers.

Now ask yourselves these questions:

Where do you live or What area do you want to work in?
This is important because the area that you work in will factor into how much you can reasonably charge. So do a little research, find out how much is being charged by other face painters, and have a look at the quality and speed of their work. This at the very least should give you a ball park to start from.

How much experience do you have with face painting?
If you’re completely new, chances are you’re not as quick as those who have been doing it for years. So if it takes you say, 8 minutes to do a design, you’re not going to get away with charging the same amount per hour as someone who can paint the same design in 4 minutes.

What kind of event are you painting at?
If its a charity event, you can choose to give a discount. Some painters even charge just to cover expenses.

Are you supplying the face paints or are they?
You might get an event where its provided for you, not very likely but still possible and if so you can give a discount. Remember a professional face paints kit- including face paints, brushes, glitter etc can cost anywhere from $150-$300, so your materials really need to be factored into the equation. But don’t think you have to go out and buy a professional kit for your first gig, start with a smaller kit, make some money and then invest in a professional kit when you can afford it.

I’ll post Part 2 and possibly Part 3 of  ”How Much Should I Charge for Face Painting?” in the next week or two to come, so stay tuned to find out more. If you have any questions about what I’ve posted so far, or have something to add, leave a comment. And have a great day!

If you want to start a face painting business but you don’t know how then
check out our “How to Start a Face Painting Business” Home Study Course!

Happy Face Painting :-)

Philadelphia Tivoli

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Cheryl M. Henderson Wed at 12:57 pm

Howdy All!
Since face painting is just a part of my clown services, I don’t have to charge for it specifically. But in researching what to charge for my services, I saw that it could get pretty expensive for a customer. But I learned that if I kept my services sweet and simple I could set my fee a little lower than other clowns and get the customers who fell through the cracks. As a clown, my ability to interact with the children in a personable way has been my biggest asset. When I step through the door and say, “Look at these wonderful kids! I’ve gotta take a picture of them!”, then squirt them with my trick camera they begin to have a ball and, quite frankly, so do I!

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vicki white Thu at 1:03 pm

I generally charge £2 per full face and £1 for cheek art. If I get lots of customers then I know its a good price, but if its quiet i lower the price. I find that once a few kids have their faces done then more want the same!

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julia(juhurst27)uk Tue at 12:42 am

hi that seems very cheap to me where do you live/paint?

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Cheryl M. Henderson Fri at 2:15 pm

You know, it’s so very important to consider the price of your materials when setting a price. You can’t charge a nice fee and use cheap products or do less that stellar work. I learned that the hard way. I made a mistake in my early days of face painting. Since I couldn’t paint very well I figured a few stencils would help me out. Well, I got the notion to make my own instead of buying some. All I can say is it was a big mess! I made the stencils by downloading a design on paper and having the sheet laminated. Next, I cut out the design and that’s where the problem started. First, it was murder on my hands to cut and next, some of the finer parts of the design would get messed up in cutting. When I put the stencil on a kid’s cheek, the paint would either run or was unrecognizable! I felt so bad because some of the older youth had been waiting a long time because they let the younger ones go first. For them to finally be able to sit down and I mess up their design almost brought me to tears! Since then, I was determined to learn to face paint and buy better products.

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Lorna Sun at 10:52 pm

Hi there! Im just getting started on the facepainting business for proper and its great to have so much information at hand! Great tips and advice! :)

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maggie salmon Wed at 10:47 pm

Hi,

I live and work in London, been face painting for over three years. The pricing is tricky – but I have become quite tough! The reason I am responding is because you mention discounts for charity – beware!! Last Christmas we organised a children’s entertainer and a face painter, we had worked for this company before, they are a very well known motel chain, and we are still waiting for payment (as of October 2010). We now do 2 charity events per year, one for our local school and one for a local church, other than that we charge. If it is part of the package, I charge 25 pounds per hour, if I work alone, I charge double that.

For festivals or all day events, I have found it useful to enquire about their budget – for example, in August I did 2 days – 4 hours each and charged 500 pounds. This might seem high – we are in London, but I did buy in a lot of temporary tattoos at the last minute, which means expensive, and, we had to wait 8 weeks for payment – this is quite normal here. I would advise anyone wishing to work for a local council to first get on their approved suppliers’ list, you just give your details and produce your CRB (police check), then they pay much quicker.

For individual faces, I charge 2.50 (sterling) per face, as I said, I have become tougher, worked my fingers off and used loads of paints for less in the beginning!

Love this site

Regards to all,

Maggie

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Anya Thu at 12:04 am

Maggie,
Thanks so much for your very detailed comment . I’ve been face painting in Dublin for a year, so the neighbour’s help is especially useful. I find it sometimes that people here do not relate to the fp business seriously and consider it a charity activity. Trying to change public attitude isn’t easy:)… Best of luck.

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lyn Thu at 12:18 pm

if they see it as charitable….tie it to a cause…I am building art workshops and there are many kids that cannot afford the workshops; fp in a festive setting can be plausible…have a small pop stand poster on the table or tie in to your banner stating price point based on charitable approach for indigent children…sounds kind of harsh (you can rephrase) but it would draw in the one or two designs that are for charity and your other designs are profit driven…I also believe that the more talented your free hand/stencil work the more justification in paying for art.

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ria Tue at 3:30 am

Forgive me, but I don’t know what sterling,pounds or L2 is can someone translate the u.s. dollar amount? thank you

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Philadelphia Tivoli Tue at 7:39 am

Ria — Maggie’s prices are in British Pounds you can check out this online converter here: http://www.xe.com to see what the approx equilavent in US Dollars are.

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Marcus Tucker Thu at 12:12 pm

Hello I just wanted to say Thank you for your vedio’s and your tips that you keep offering. I really enjoy watching you when you’re working on the painting, I’m glad I signed up Thanks once again

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Howard, Bow-Tie the Clown Thu at 3:42 pm
Yvonne Barnes Sat at 4:55 am

I’ve been retired from woodcrafts for quite a few years now. Still love to paint. At church and family birthday parties I’ve enjoyed doing facepainting for free. I consider myself new in this field and love all the advice given. I would like more information so I can use my talents in a more profitable way. I will keep watching and learning. Thanks so much. I am inspired.

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Gayle Smith Mon at 2:15 pm

Hi Philadelphia.
I am a very new face painter. I am an artist (first degree was in graphic design, way back in the day) and kindergaren teacher (2nd degree, post-divorce). I loooove my job as a teacher, as I am fortunate to witness little people thriving, experiencing and growing each day. I love my kiddies, and get close to my parents as well. As a reult of a friendship developed with one of my kindergarten moms I was asked to fill in at a police charity event when the face painter cancelled due to illness! I ran to the store, bought a VERY basic set of face paints, grabbed my art brushes, and went. I was instantly hooked!!!!
There is something about painting on people that is just so different than paining on canvas or other. I absolutely love it.

Your website is a blessing, as I have learned so much in just these past 2 months since school has let out for the summer. I appreciate, so much, the willingness of this community to share techniques and ideas through you site. I am so inspired and energized each time I receive a “tips” e-mail in my inbox. Thank you, thank you for the continued advice and inspiration as I embark on this new venture in my life! You’ll be hearing from me again.
Sincerely,
Gayle Smith

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Philadelphia Tivoli Tue at 12:54 am

Hi Gayle,
I’m so glad you’re enjoying our website and love to hear that you’re doing so well!! Thank you so much for your kind words :-)

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Sarah Armstrong Sun at 8:44 pm

hiii ive been doing face painting for a year, im 17 from liverpool, i have to do parties in my area as i do not drive. i chatge £20 an hour i keep thinking if that is too much but i think people will be willing as i have qualifications in body art and fashion media… i love doing art

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dottie jean henry Wed at 8:06 pm

love the “tips”. I have been face and cheek painting for 5 years. we live in a small town, and i usually ask for a donation for my supplies if close area to me. ( I so mostly church events, and birthday parties) I love to paint, and enjoy all the gals from silly farm and getting ready to log on to “FABA”. thanks for the tips and ideas, designs, and supplies information. I have ordered several of the items. keep up the good work. your talent is a blessing.!!! dottie jean henry

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kate-Aust Wed at 12:58 am

Hi everyone, great site for us all, i have been painting professionally downunder 19 years – yeh. wow..and still love it..and still learning new things.. if i am available thru the week it’s my advise to give back to the community..you can ask them to supply materials as in prime colours /tattoos & sometimes balloons for twisting..also from the start mention or send them your blue card /police check, this usually seals the deal. we sometimes charge $4- $8 for a facepaint or cheek/arm art, a balloon twist with a lolly pop at markets etc. Work out your petrol and travelling time etc a discount is alwys good for your regular customers.extra advise (look at how you sit or stand and reach plus how you pick up children).. love this site it’s great to see newbies to professionals getting good feed back Thanks FPTips

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mattyklu Wed at 1:33 am

Hi thank you so much for all the information I just had my first gig it was my nephews birthday party, I didn’t charge my sister since that was my gift to him all the face painting, all the parents loved my art and were very interested in contracting my services I want to make a facebook page for my face painting only and I don’t know if that’s a good idea or not, also im taking this as my business since sadly I was an independent contractor truck driver with my husband and about 3 months ago our equipment was stolen and it wasn’t recovered,

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Philadelphia Tivoli Wed at 3:36 am

Definitely start a facebook page for your business, upload your artwork and network with other face painters in your area – great for business!

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mattyklu Wed at 1:37 am

And my question is how do I know if im ready to start going out to other peoples parties and I would like to know if u can see my paintings and let me know about ur personal point of view if im ready or if I still need more practice I would really appreciate your point of view in my paintings cause I know you will tell me if I need more time before I start getting other gigs, if not I will surely practice more before I get something

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Philadelphia Tivoli Wed at 3:35 am

Post your photos on our facebook page if you would like some feedback – http://www.facebook.com/facepaintingtips

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Linda Mon at 2:16 am

i thought the same so just started by charging for petrol and materials at parties then as i improved i started charging more as i was getting better products and more experience you can charge more.

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Nakeemi Wed at 10:05 am

Thank you all so much for the helpful tips, I too am a beginner and been painting for 2 years now. I started at a school that I worked at. I was the Arts and Craft teacher and drawing was something I always loved to do, even as a child. I enjoy being in the presence of children & making them happy warms my heart even more. The Face Painting Business is more fun and exciting than you can imagine, especially if you have help. The only problem that discourages me is when I am painting and the line starts to get extremely long. I begin to panic and rush painting & worry I may not get to paint everyone in a timely manner. I need help in this area, what is the best way to handle this?

Again, Thanks for your Helpful Tips
This means a Lot :)

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Philadelphia Tivoli Wed at 7:07 pm

Hi Nakeemi — long lines happen, find a way to stop people lining up if you know that there are too many people and not enough time — that way you don’t have to rush and lose quality, and nobody will have to wait in line only to be turned away because you’ve run out of time.

Some face painters give the last person in line a vest to wear with a sign that says “The Line Is Closed For Face Painting” so that anyone who tries to join the line will see the sign and know.

Or you could just put up a big sign in your booth saying you’re closed.
Hope this helps :-)

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Trish Gallatin Sun at 10:17 pm

giveing the last child/parent in line a sign is a perfect idea. I rarely work alone ( i have my husband as my line manager) but i have used that idea perfectly (just make sure to tell them if they need to leave to hand the sign to the next child!) but you ill always have someone come up to you and ask if you can add “just one more” . you have to be firm and say I’m sorry but I have to be at another appt./party soon after and it usually works. I just concentrate on the face in front of me! I highly recommend hiring a friend,someone you can trust help take money and keep people informed and happy as they wait.

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Dayton Tue at 7:54 am

I have been face painting for over 5 years and have done events such as birthdays, block parties, company openings and community events. I have heard from some of my customers that other artists in my area will charge upwards of $120 an hour (I am unsure of the variances taken into account such as time, how many faces etc) But have found that my rate of $50 for the first hour and $25 every hour after is reasonable. I travel kind of far for some, and am by myself- so I need to take into account gas, travel time and of course all of my supplies. You need to be aware of your market and what people are willing to pay for your service.

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Julia Thu at 11:19 am

I am a clown and face painting is just part of what I do. In reference to pricing, as a general rule, I do not charge if it a part of my event, say a birthday party package but the package is higher that a balloon party or magic party. If I do just straight face painting as a clown I think about what the requirements for the event are, Is it face painting at a festival?, if so I charge for large cheek art design, $1.00, if a half face design then $2.00, more advanced crowns, fairy, that are over 5 minutes the charge is $4.00, If full face design then between $5 & 6 Dollars, Glitter, bling at no added charge.

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Julia Thu at 11:21 am

In my thoughts and beliefs, $50 first hour and $25 per additional hours is way undercharging!!! With cost of supplies, Gas and your valuable time, I just can’t justify that low fee.

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Trish Gallatin Sun at 10:24 pm

I think her first price per hour isn’t that far off but the after is WAY too low! I charge $60 for the first 2 hours (average full face w/good detail taking about 3-5 min each) and every hour after that is $50 per hour for events that have “free” face painting advertised. otherwise it’s $5-$12 per face.
going down half price for a full hour is cheating yourself! get an average of how many faces you do in 1 hour then take a few -$10 off per hour. Usually I price it at half face/cheek/arm art for the hourly rate. Works for me!

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Kim Ballard Fri at 1:19 am

Hi I’m new to face painting too! Just been on a one day face paitning course and really enjoyed it. I work in a pre-school and have tried my hand on the children there and really loved it! I have always been an arty person but didn’t consider myself good enough to do anything with it! I think I have found my arty pursuit at last! Since the course last week I am raring to go! I was advised to charge £25 per hour or £3 per face, but I ‘m not sure I’m worth that yet, but we were told not to undersell yourself! With more practice and confidence I may feel more comfortable charging £3!

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Toni Mon at 10:21 am

HI, I also want to say thanks for the advice. I just got back from ME_ONE camp.
( This is a cancer can in which cancer victims have a weekend of pampering,
everthing is done for them Hair, nail,feet, facials,masages and lots of FUN. Not just for them but the whole family.) I was ask to paint faces. Never did it before. I got my supplies from you, and had a blast. I Love the human canvas. Thanks for all your tips , so I could make their children’s and them Happy and Loved.
THANKS AGAIN
TONI

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Micaela Thu at 10:00 am

Hi, I’m Micaela from Argentina, Buenos Aires. I’m starting my business of facepainting, thanks for all councils, information and videos, are very very helpful!! . Greetings from Buenos Aires (excuse my english) By!!

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Gloria Sterrdett Mon at 9:51 pm

TY very much, I received my TAP “Into the Fun” Stencils yesterday!!! Sweet!!!! <3 :*

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emma anderson Sun at 11:19 am

my daughter as been ask to face paint for a party she is not a professtional but she his good dose nt know wot to charge there have offer 20 pound and 35 kids will be there is that fare emma

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Elizabeth Pearce Thu at 5:58 am

Hi there – I live in South Africa!
I charge R500 for 3 hours – and travelling. And payment must be EFT into my account 36hours before the time. I also charge 50% cancellation fee for a cancelled booking.
Facepainting / Make up / graphic design work etc.

My clients are MORE than happy!!

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Stacey - Fairy Face Painter Wed at 7:51 pm

Thank you for the great tips and comments!

I am just starting out. I am using Snazaroo paints for the most part, and then another smaller brand (can’t remember the name) for some detail work. I provide all paint for a child’s party, and come in full fairy costume. I live in a large city. I am planning to charge (haven’t been charging yet for my practice work), $75 for the first hour and $40 for each additional hour (given the party is within a 30 min drive range). Does this sound reasonable to y’all?

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Erica Hendrix Mon at 1:28 pm

I was asked to paint for a 1 yr old’s birthday party for 2 hours. I already have the paint but it is 40 mins away. Is $50 too cheap for the whole package?

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Philadelphia Tivoli Mon at 11:55 pm

Is that $50 per hour?

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Stacey - Fairy Face Painter Tue at 7:28 am

Erica –

I am still just getting started, but would offer this advice. I do not paint faces that are that young. I will paint on the arm. Also, I would stick to very quick designs as they get quite impatient. If you have some stencils to start the design, that will help. If you can get there early and paint the birthday child before everyone arrives… then all of the kids will follow and want that done. How many kids can you do in an hour with the designs you have planned? 2 hours, $50, 40 hrs away… I think that is too cheap. I charge $75 for the first hour (that will help to pay for your time and gas), then $40 for every hour after that. I do come in costume, so I charge a bit more. If you feel uncomfortable charging more that $40 for your services, then tack on a $20 trip charge since you will be in the car for over an hour – round trip – plus set-up. Last little bit of advice. I have a disclaimer – I kept it light and not too serious – that I post at my table. When mommies come over with little ones, I point at the little sign and ask, “Mom, is that ok with you?” This gets me off the hook if one of them gets a reaction. Know your products – and be able to tell the mommies that they are FDA approved (make sure of that). And lastly… just emphasize that I would not try to paint faces for kids who are 1 yr old. They are too likely to hate the experience, get it in their eyes when they rub their face, etc. I would stick to putting it on their arm.

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betty kande Sun at 4:48 pm

Hi everyone,
Thanks to all for sharing helpful tips- I have been face painting for the past four years mainly at birthday parties- my biggest event was 150 kids (a school charity event “kids for kids”) I painted all the faces by myself during 6 hours (no break)! I have numbers ready for the line management- I leave in west Africa, my prices vary from $3 to $4 for a full face. Wishing you all the best for 2014!
Betty “the funny face!”

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