I like a good, busy PPF event occasionally. I did plenty of dismal ones when I first started out, might have even cried a bit on the way home after not even making the price of stall fee back. It’s always best to have guaranteed income and be paid your hourly rate but for some events that isn’t an option available. When contacting events always offer hourly first, it’s in all our interest if events willing to pay hourly stay that way. And offering PPF when the event already has a paid painter is bad form. Undercutting benefits none of us. But, with the perfect event I can make over my hourly rate, so I’m passing on to you some of what I’ve learned.
The Type of Event
In order to have a steady/crazy queue of customers waiting to be painted, the event itself has to be well advertised. Search for the event on face-book, look at the numbers of interest people from previous years. If the event is not established then I pass. Even if you’re a new painter and need the practice, you need the event to have people actually there. Look out for banners and posters too. Always ask about duplicate stalls, you don’t want to be splitting your potential clients. When asked to provide a raffle prize just say you offer a service not a product.
Location is important. You need an abundance of kids so school fete’s and fairs are great. Schools are generally more worried about being sued these days so it’s less likely the school will loose their pupils to do the face-painting with some tubes of Smiffys and no hygiene protocol. Community events can be good earners too.
This might just be my experience but Craft and Church fairs can be attended by a more elderly crowd so baring the odd grandchild or up-for-it Nana, your pool of customers is too small to be worth the while.
The perfect stall fee is ZERO. No risk to you and the event see you as a draw.
The next best deal is a percentage of your takings. It requires some trust between you and the event coordinator, so be upfront about how much float you’re starting with and count takings together at the end of the event. Do not go higher than 20%. I might give a charity 20% if it was a worthwhile cause.
Contrary to thinking too low a stall fee is a bad sign. You turn up and the stall holders are the only people there. That tiny stall fee wasn’t put into advertising. The other end of the market is festivals who can charge over a thousand for a weekend and some have no problem having many glitter/face-painting stalls. Even with inflated per face charge you’d have trouble making back that fee. Some painters say that it’s better to attend and work on the fly, but you didn’t hear that from me as it’s probably illegal.
To have a really successful PPF gig, you need to be FAST and GOOD. No more than four minutes total turnaround per design is a good limit. That’s asking which design, taking the money, getting seated, the painting and sending them on their way. To me, a quick design means I don’t pick up the same brush more than once, every brush swap is more seconds on your design.
So you should have a repertoire of under four minute designs on display. I love my 8 mask Sally Anne Lynch board in a poster A2 a-frame. Eight designs I can confidently bang out in a display really stops the umming and erring when the client gets their turn, plus I don’t want to be googling Five Nights at Freddie’s characters when theres a queue of twelve people forming. You can just say “These are the designs I’m doing today”, and being able to diplomatically say NO will stead you well in face-painting and in life. The more people you paint the more money you make so save the super elaborate designs for parties. One strokes and stencils are life-savers. Chunky Festival Glitter is also super quick when applied over Global gel.
On the Day
- If you’re painting in a wealthy area, have plenty of fivers. Rich people don’t seem to carry small change.
- Have your takings and float in your apron pockets at all times, don’t want it to go wandering while you’re busy trying to pick up a brush.
- If working alone you can either have break times scheduled on your display or go without formal breaks. Always use the toilet before hand and have lots of water on your table for you and your water pots(I have two Big Bottles, one for each of us). Snacks should be something you can eat with one hand to keep you going and that won’t be messy(so no Wotsits, try to keep it healthy).
- Speaking of water, when you need to change yours have a collapsible bowl under your table to dump it it.
- You can either stand to paint while your customers sit in a tall chair or bring your own chair you find comfortable. I’m tall and have sciatica that gets aggravated by leaning forward all day so I stand. I’d rather have sore feet after six hours than not be able to get out of bed next morning. But whatever works for you, make sure to bring it. Nothing worse than asking for chairs and being provided a wooden patio bench.
- I like to have my back to the queue. The person in my chair is my focus for the four minutes it takes me to complete their design. I think the kids in the queue like to see how you work too.
- Keep painting! The buzz of a busy venue, happy customers and your set up all working like a well oiled machine. Hope these tips help you maximise those profits!