To kickstart this new blog I want to talk about a subject us face painters all seem to suffer from at some point – self-doubt.
When we start face painting professionally we think ‘can I do this?’, ‘am I good enough?’, ‘am I too expensive?’, ‘will people book me?’
These are normal questions when we start something new, of course they are, it’s unchartered territory and it would be strange and unwise not to think things through. But how often have we seen these questions on Facebook posts? Why are we all so worried about being good enough? Because we want to please. Because we have the privilege to work in a happy profession, one that is full of colour, fun and joy and is about making smiles and creating beautiful memories. And we want to please the people who’ve booked us, to see their faces as they watch their child beam with delight at something we have created. And they do beam. And the parents are pleased and we sigh with relief, glowing a little inside because it went well. And yet.
As our business grows and we become more experienced and skillful sometimes these self-doubting thoughts grow with us and act against us, we compare ourselves to others and find our own talents lacking, we ask ourselves questions that could be helpful but are mainly not; ‘am I fast enough?’, ‘am I worth the money?’, ‘am I too cheap?’ And as if that isn’t exhausting enough we may even continue to doubt ourselves with statements we imagine to be true; ‘I could never paint that’, ‘I’m not good enough to enter a competition,’ and we kind of flounder a bit, stuck somewhere we imagine is good enough (maybe, possibly, hopefully?) and not truly realising our own self-worth.
Well enough. No more. If that child looks in the mirror and doesn’t cry you’ve done your job, if she smiles you’ve done your job well. We need to remember our job is not about us as artists, it’s about the child and their experience, they are allowing us to paint them, they are vulnerable and trusting as they sit silent with eyes closed, often with our hand gripping their head, and parents nowhere to be seen. Their comfort and happiness come first, the art is secondary. And when they open their eyes they will be happy. So, push yourself by all means, challenge yourself, find your weak points and work on them, get frustrated because your teardrops are wonky, try and copy an Olga, reach for the stars! That’s all fine. But let’s all stop doubting our abilities whether it’s painting a one stroke butterfly or negotiating a good stall fee at a festival. We are all good enough. Yes, we can be better and yes, we will be better. So be confident. Smile. Relax. You’re doing fine. In fact, from the look on that child’s face, you’re doing amazingly.
Face painting by Joni