Honey, we need to talk.
One of the saddest things I often read on Facebook or hear from fellow artists is that they’ve decided to give up face painting. I’ve heard all sorts of reasons that artists give up face painting: They aren’t making enough money fast enough. Their significant other is unsupportive. They had some major life event that has changed their priorities. They’ve been burned by one too many clients, barfed on by one too many kids, or wronged by one too many agents. They may doubt their own talent, or simply didn’t realize the amount of time and money that goes into making face and body art a profession. Take a hard look at what the issues are and determine if they are truly uncontrollable deal breakers, or if you can do something about them.
Remember why you fell in love.
Take a look back and focus on the good and remember why you fell in love with face painting in the beginning. Don’t let the memory of one eternally grateful child get lost among the stories of entitled kids and rude parents. I have a cork board in my studio full of photos of some of my favorite moments of my career. Thank you notes from clients, photos of happy customers, incredible experiences of teaching and traveling, sporting silly costumes with painty friends, memorable “firsts,” my kids painting with their own little kits, and even the painted faces of family & friends who have now passed away. It is a daily visual reminder of all the good that comes from my job!
|My happy place!! Photos & thank you's hung above my drawing board.|
Rekindle the Romance.
Feeling like you’re just going through the motions at your gigs? Sometimes the fun and passion can start to wane as we paint our 10th Spiderman at the same event, or when we create a menu of new designs only to be asked for yet another unicorn. As much as we’d like to expect our gigs to provide a creative outlet, it doesn’t always work that way...while many of us are our own boss, in the end we work for our clients. If this is the case, create opportunities to give yourself total creative freedom. Participate in creative challenges. Attend local paint jams. Bribe your kids into letting you paint whatever you want on them. Don’t expect a client to hire you to paint whatever you want...make those opportunities for yourself when you need a boost of creative freedom! Clients hire us to do what they want...as your own boss, you are responsible for providing what you need to feel fulfilled!
Work it out.
If you and face painting are meant to be, it’ll be worth the work. A true internal passion is not affected by external circumstances. If you are truly in love with face painting, yet find your passion fading, take a moment to evaluate what’s really causing it to fade and figure out what you can do to turn it around. Burned by too many clients? Reevaluate your contracts and your method of managing client expectations. Not making enough to cover your costs? Experiment with raising your rates or reducing your costs. Feeling burned out or like you need a creative boost? Attend some conferences and workshops. Spouse being unsupportive? Time for a heart to heart conversation about how important it is to you! One client or agent causing all your stress? Stop working for them! You have that power!
Take a break.
You know the old saying....If you love someone, let them go. If they return to you, they’re yours. If not, they were never yours to begin with. Try taking a break from face painting and see what happens. If you find yourself missing it or wishing you were back at it instead of wherever you are, it may be worth fighting for. And if you find you aren’t missing it, then it may just not be for you, and that’s okay too! Sometimes people, artists especially, just need to experiment with different forms of expression to find their niche. You don’t know until you try it, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with continuing the search if face painting isn’t your thing!
Take it slow.
If you are thinking of throwing in the towel because you are not making enough profit in this business, let me be the first to tell you that it takes time. And by time, I mean a LOT of time. Like YEARS of time. In my case, DECADES of time. Don’t get into face painting thinking you’ll immediately be quitting your day job, unless you go into it after already quitting your day job and devote 40 hours a week to building it up. While you do generally get back what you put into this business, many people go into it with skewed ideas of just how much needs to be put in to begin with, and how much passion is required to keep you loving it despite the level of income it provides.
It’s not you, it’s me.
Do you love the idea of being a face painter, but lack the confidence in your own work to keep going? If you are willing to take a hard, honest look in the mirror, you have the power to change this! Skills can be practiced and honed. There are countless amazing ways to improve your skills, whether it’s through books, online tutorials, workshops or conferences. It may not even be related to painting! I personally have gotten so dragged down by my frustrations with the accounting side of my business, I’ve recently started taking online college courses in small business finance so I can show Quickbooks who’s boss. I’ll never have a passion for accounting, but I identified it as a source of pain and am doing something about it! Whatever you do, don’t EVER think you already know everything there is to know about everything, or that you are too good to learn something from someone with less years of experience. This is a deadly trap and the quickest way to fade away in this industry. Never, ever, ever, ever stop learning and growing. And if it’s truly your passion, you’ll LOVE the learning process too!
Take the bad with the good.
If you’ve determined that yes, face painting IS a passion that is worth fighting for, it is important to remember that no job is all sunshine and rainbow cakes. Your passion for the job will ebb and flow with time, and every job comes with downsides. The goal is to not let those things drag you down. I know this is easier said than done, as it seems so easy for those terrible experiences to stick in our memories while the smaller and more frequent victories fade. But a big part of this job is JOY...not only the joy we see in the kids’ faces as they look in the mirror, but the joy that we have an opportunity to pour into the lives of even the most seemingly undeserving customers. As hard as it may be, you’ll never regret spreading contagious love and joy!