Saturday, December 11, 2010

New to the body arts? Do you have business questions?

Are you new to the body arts? Are you an artist trying to start your business in face painting or body painting?

Or are you a concerned client looking for more information?

Wether it's face painting or body painting, here's a few things you might want to know.


Some of the products commonly used that are approved for cosmetic use as a face or body paint are the following (listing from low quality to high quality products): Snazaroo, Ben Nye MagiCakes, LYRA Make-up Pencils, WOLFE Face Art & FX, Mehron, Kryolan Aquacolor, MAC PRO "Chromacakes", Make-up Forever Face & Body Paints.

What not to use on the skin: tempera, crafters paint, acrylic, watercolors (watercolours), lyra aquacolor crayons; anything not approved for cosmetic use.

Just because the product says "non toxic" does not mean it is safe to use on the skin or to eat. All that means is that it will not kill a child if the decide to lick the paint brush.

"...Mom, who told the painter that she had sensitive skin, and, the painter who said it was fine... (This was before I knew about "real" face paint)...had been painted with one of those "acrylics"... My daughter had scabs on her forehead for a month! And, on her arm, it itched so bad that she scratched it raw!..." Quoted from: Jenna Rose, Daisy Twist Company, Colorado Balloon & Decor/Daisy Twist

Approved for Cosmetic Use: Health Canada is responsible for regulating cosmetics under the Food and Drug Act and the Cosmetic Regulations. In the states, the Food & Drug Adminstration in the USA is responsible for what is approved for cosmetic use. Now it's true that both Health Canada and the FDA in the states, both do approve things that are a bit questionable at times, it's still much more likely that it is really actually safe for use on the skin. But you do need to do your research into understanding the particulars of the ingredients in any product. 

Don't assume the worst or the best, just go in with your eyes open realizing that while some things approved for cosmetic use really are fine, there is a grey zone when dealing with cosmetically approved products. From my research, it would seem that a company does not need to apply for "safe for cosmetic use" status until the product has been on the market for 10 days. The following is quoted from David Suzuki's website:

"Many chemical ingredients in cosmetics have never been tested for their effects on human health and the environment. Health Canada and Environment Canada are slowly working their way through the assessment of some 4,000 existing substances — including chemicals used in cosmetics — that have been categorized as potentially posing a risk to human health or the environment. Assessment of cosmetic ingredients is often frustrated by a lack of data on exposure and long-term health effects. Moreover, of the handful of chemicals assessed to date and deemed to be toxic, those used in cosmetics generally remain unregulated, with Health Canada opting instead to place them on the Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist."

"New rules introduced in 2006 require manufacturers to disclose cosmetic ingredients on the product label. This important improvement to the Cosmetic Regulations provides information to consumers and health professionals that was previously considered confidential. Cosmetics are one of the only consumer products for which the public's "right to know" about chemical ingredients is guaranteed in Canada (in contrast, the disclosure of ingredients in household cleaners is voluntary, for example)."

"...loophole exists for chemicals used to scent or mask scents in cosmetics. The term "fragrance" or "parfum" on an ingredients list usually represents a complex mixture of dozens of chemicals. Fragrance recipes are considered a trade secret so manufacturers are not required to disclose fragrance chemicals in the list of ingredients."

Despite the above statements, I still think that a professional face or body painter will use only products approved for use as a cosmetic because it's better then the alternative. Don't forget that the body is built to deal with a certain amount of exposure to toxins, be it ingested orally, or absorbed through the skin or breathed in. If you are wearing make-up or body art products only once in a while then you will be fine, but like eating too much chocolate, too much of a good thing will have it's consquences. Everything in balance is my motto!

Insurance, Health Canada et cetera
In Canada the industry is still too new for there to be insurance or other details like formal associations to be well established. But I know that in Calgary, Alberta, Health Canada does do spontainous inspections of local face painters while they are working. If an inspector sees you double dipping in your paints, you will get into trouble, possibly be put out of business. For example, in Calgary, Alberta, they expect face painters to abide by the same rules that make-up artists abide by; which means NO DOUBLE DIPPING in your paints; you would need to use a clean utensil to cut off a small amount of paint, and put it into a seperate container that would be used on only one child's face, then disinfect your brushes & sponges before repeating the same thing for the next child.

In the United Kingdom (England, Scotland et cetera) you have to be approved before you can work with the public as a face or body painter, and there is a well established association there that checks you for both your health tactics & skills before allowing you membership. In Canada there is the Canadian Association of Face and Body Artists that is trying to become established as the authority in approving quality assurance, but as far as I know there are very few face & body painters who are actually members in comparison to how many face & body painters there are in Canada.

What should I charge as a face or body painter?
That is up to you. If you are really "green around the gills", that is to say, you are completely new to face painting as a business, then it's reasonable to do work for exposure, as gifts to friends and family, volunteering for non-profit organizations et cetera.

For a beginner with no or very little professional experience, between $20 to $40 an hour is a very normal price range. For those who are past the stage of "beginner" but maybe aren't as experienced as someone who has been in the business for 8 years or more, $50 an hour is pretty normal. Contracts for artistic assistants will usually pay between $40-$50 an hour.

But for professionals who have been at it a long time, while many artists do a certain amount of sliding scale (negotiable to the clients budget), and how far that scale will slide really depends on a few factors; how much does the artist like the client, how convenient or easy is the job, or how desperate is the artist for work.
During times of slow business, many artists find it is sometimes necessary to take any business that comes your way, but there is a huge argument between body artists about wether or not it's professional at all to be willing to have a sliding scale.

Each artist sets their standards.
Generally speaking, when you have been painting over 5 years, the price ranges from $50 an hour up to $80 per hour, but when you have been painting over 8/10 years, most artists will try to aim at being paid between $80-$150 per hour.

The local market plays a big role in pricing. Such as face painting in Calgary, Alberta, the going rate is between $125-$150 per hour. The going rate in Montreal, QC for face painting is between $50-$100. per hour but the going rate for body painting in Montreal is between $80-$150 per hour. Vancouver, BC is $40-$100 per hour.

Body painting prices accross the globe seem to be pretty simular from what I have gathered from the body painters I have talked to coming from around the globe; seems to be a normal price to pay $500-$1000 (in total) for full head to foot body painting; this is because of how time consuming it is to paint someone from head to foot (average of 5-8 hours depending on the look).

Keep in mind that there is no officially recognized unions or associations for face & body painting in Canada, so as such it's hard to find any form of statistics on pricing. Mostly you learn by observation of what you see other artists charging, internet information or talking to artists in person.

Most artists don't list their prices online, especially highly experienced artists. As a generalization, it's only the artists approaching business from the "cheapest face painter in town" advertising tactic who will promote their prices. But generally speaking, good quality work is usually more pricey.

While it can get harder to get contracts the more you charge, usually it just means you work less but earn the same amount of money.

Additional factors that affect your pricing are covered under "business plan".

Business Plan
A business plan is a smart idea but difficult to complete under any circumstances, but I think especially for the body arts. From a business plan perspective, you should be creating your pricing according to a number of factors: experience/expertise, cost of supplies, overhead (if you are home based, 25% of your rent, hydro, phone et cetera can legally be claimed as part of your overhead) such as your phone, advertising costs, promotional time & office work.

When figuring out your pricing, you also need to consider not only what your direct competition is doing but also your indirect competition. Indirect competition means that if you are a face painter then any children's service is indirect competition, this includes magicians, clowns, activity teachers et cetera. The average price for a magician in Montreal for example is around $200 an hour.

Something else to keep in mind is that regardless of if you are busy with lots of work or if you are going through a slow period; to keep up both your skills, your speed and to be able to develop your skills even further, you need to always be painting even when there is no work. So if you are always painting, the costs of materials used, & time involved should be reflected in your pricing.

For more information about writing a business plan, contact your local entrepreneur, small business centre or try looking online, or at the library.

Presentation & Portfolio
Presentation is really important. This includes your personal presentation (your person), are you clean, neat, tidy & dressed appropriately? Is your work space clean, neat and tidy? Are you brushes & sponges sanatized? Is your face painting water kept clean or do you allow it get and stay very muddy? Are your face paints a mess at the beginning of your job, do you clean your face paints between faces (such as mixing colours).

Portfolio is really important. When you are just starting off, any old photo is better then no photo, but once you are established, it's critical you work on building a portfolio of professional images. A website for most artists is their only store front, and is a public portfolio, so be sure to build a website. Don't forget to utilize social media, as having a web presence is essential to bringing in business.

That's it for now!
I am sure there is more I could add to this article but I have about mentally exhausted myself in writing this, and I dont' think there are many people who will read all of the details without skimming. If you have any questions I have not covered here, please leave a comment and I will be happy to update this article at a later date.

1 comment:

  1. "...a seperate container that would be used on only one child's face, then disinfect your brushes & sponges before repeating the same thing for the next child." - How about disinfecting the kids instead?