9 Professional Face Painters Share How They Pack and Prepare Their Gear

Professional face painters need a lot more equipment than most people expect, so it’s important that you pack your bags the right way.

As with any other packing job, it’s difficult to choose what to bring. You don’t want to risk ending up with a bag that is heavier than necessary – or risk that you break your only brush or run out of paint in the middle a job!

To improve how we pack our bags, we have talked with 9 professional face painters and asked them to share their best advice.

Read on and learn from their best tips and tricks (all 9 have years of experience, so they know what they are talking about!).

Face painter working

The 9 Face Painters

Elena of Creative Faces
I currently live in Sydney, Australia but I was born in Bucharest, Romania.

I got into face painting by chance. My little sisters friend’s dad owns a kids entertainment business. He decided to hold a workshop one month for face painting and my mum convinced me to try it out – I was always quite artistic and loved to draw so I didn’t hesitate. After that workshop I have never looked back! It’s my little creative outlet on the weekends and I enjoy it a great deal.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all face painters bring?

  • Mints – these are really helpful when you work within such a close proximity to another human. They make me feel fresher and I don’t need to worry about my breath!!
  • Selfie ring light – not actually used for ‘selfies’ but more as a portable LED light. I love to take photos of my work, but sometimes working in darker areas can be difficult to take nice shots. Flash is usually too overwhelming, both for the quality of the photo and for the kid, so I’ve started using this selfie ring light to create a nice lighting effect on the kids. The result is actually really wonderful!
  • Paw paw/Vaseline – this stuff is amazing! I find my lips dry out a considerable amount when I am face painting outdoors. It is always handy to have something moisturising on hand. As I have to talk a lot on the job (both to the kids and their parents) having my lips moisturised really helps. I sometimes use it on my hand in winter.

How do you bring things with you?

I use only 1 bag. It is a makeup/cosmetic case that I purchased off Ebay. It’s a black portable nylon case with a hard outer shell, 2 zippers to close (1 main compartment and 1 smaller) and with both shoulder and carry handle straps. You also have the option of attaching it to a little wheelie bag which is very ideal! There is no specific brand/logo attached to it.

It’s perfect as some of the compartments have adjustable tray dividers so you can really customise how you organise everything in the bag. As a result, I can fit my different sized paints, glitters, water spray, sponges etc and don’t have to worry about them moving around too much in the bag when travelling. They also look incredibly organised which looks great when clients see how well the materials and equipments are looked after. The bag also has an area specifically for my brushes and a flap that comes over them to protect them.

The bag is on the smaller scale but I like it. I can fit everything I need but it also makes me pack less stuff which means less stuff to carry and no sore backs!

What are your top tips for other face painters?

Only take things that you will use and need. I have the basics of everything I need and find that I can make do with the small amount of materials I have. A lot of face painters I see carry these HUGE cases and bags with them. They lug them around and it just does not look comfortable. I think opt for something small to begin with and work your way up – that way you are always strict on packing and what you take with you. Another tip is to purchase a bag that allows you to be organised – this helps with setting up and packing down on a job. It also looks more professional.

I’ve seen face artists move their paints into smaller containers in order to be able to carry more colours around with them and use up less space. This is such a wonderful idea if you NEED way more materials than you average artist and are limited with space. Purchase little adjustable bead/jewellery organisers and containers from Ebay and sort out your paints there. I will probably do this when I have too many paints and will need to downsize.

Visit Elena (Creative Faces)’s website

Olga Murasev
I was born and lived almost my entire life in Moldova, a small former-soviet country. I’m currently residing in Spain, Catalunya.

I started face painting as a hobby in 2011 and it soon developed into a full-time career. I’ve always played around with art so creativity is quite natural to me and I was lucky to develop skills for face painting quite quickly.

Most of my artwork is inspired by nature as well as popular culture and cartoons. My artwork became popular very quickly and thus, over the last few years I managed to travel the entire world giving workshops and teaching at face painting conventions.

The last three years I worked very hard on creating the most complete online Course for face painters and I’m very proud to say this project became a super successful one! The International Face Painting School became a true revolution in our industry.

If you ask me for one most important idea that I learned over these years I will say – Analyze the human facial features and always think of how you are placing your designs on the face. It can be a super easy design, but if it integrates well with the face, you’ll achieve that flawless effect you are looking for. And vice versa, you can be an incredibly talented canvas artist, but if you don’t pay attention to the focal points and main guidelines of the face, your intricate work can look quite awkward and leave your client unhappy.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all face painters bring?

I always have with me:

  • A blending brush, because it helps hide mistakes in case my linework went wrong or I smudged an area. This is my true savior!
  • Enough rinsing water that I change frequently. This helps me keep the colors in my paints vibrant and makes my work clean and sanitary.
  • A well activated, creamy waxy white. I know every face painter has it, but very few people activate their white properly and that’s the reason why their linework and double dip isn’t bright enough. So, basically what you’ll need is a crater in the center of your paint. When you will be spritzing the paint with water and then activating it by rotational moves around the crater, you will get the necessary activated paint gathered in the little pool in the crater. By varying the amount of added water you can achieve different paint consistency. Why is that so important? Because all the water that you will be adding to your paint will collect in that crater, on top of the plastic. The plastic won’t absorb any water from your activated paint and you will be able to work for longer without reactivating your paint every time you need to load your brush. And vice-versa, if you will work from a flat paint surface, each time you will be spritzing your paint, you will take an activated amount from the top, but the extra water will leak down, into the inner part of the paint. That water won’t be able to evaporate and will moisten the paint until transforms into that glue mass that none of us likes.

How do you bring things with you?

Time and experience showed that I actually don’t need many supplies at my gigs. I’ve also noticed that most of the professional artists, the industry leaders, have quite small kits that are adapted to their personal needs and techniques. I was using black cases (those ones that many face painting brands produce) to carry my paints and a brush wallet to carry my brushes. But that wasn’t very ergonomic and my kit was way too heavy to carry.

So I resized my kit and I actually filmed a video on what my kit looks like now:

I like to have all my things organized! I feel that having each thing on its place on my worktable speeds up my work, keeps my setup cleaner and keeps me relaxed because I don’t have to rush looking for where I put my brush or my sponge.

What are your top tips for other face painters?

First thing is to find out what tools you are using and which ones you’re not. This is very simple to make when you come back home after a gig and take a look at your supplies, which ones are clean and which ones are dirty. 😉

Second, think about the style you are mostly practicing. If you are painting more with singular colors, then reduce the number of one stroke cakes. Or if you like one stroke, then make sure to have all your cakes with truly different combinations. I’ve seen plenty of situations when an artist would have three or fours cakes that had almost the same color combinations. Same thing regarding your brushes. You certainly won’t manage to use more than 15 brushes per an event, so make sure you don’t carry hundreds of them with you.

Third, invest in professional tools that will help you achieve versatile results. For instance one single flora brush for double dip will help you create all sorts of bold, thick, thin, small, narrow, heart-shaped, reversed double dip teardrop shapes of petals. And then you can add leaves with the same brush. 😉 One tool and so versatile! Quick, easy, beautiful, affordable and minimalistic!

Visit Olga Murasev’s International Face Painting School

I enjoy the art, going to events and parties and meeting people . One stroke face painting always wows the audience

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all face painters bring?

Glitter gems good brushes that you can use in many different ways to get effects and stencils are all good. Some face painters trying to do too much at bookings like hair braiding airbrush stencils and glitter tattoos. don’t try and offer to much your face painting will suffer

How do you bring things with you?

A medium suitcase with wheels for my paints and brushes a bag for other items like tablecloths sponges and gems

What are your top tips for other face painters?

You need to take enough to create a show, people love to look at the array of paints and glitters, but on occasions, you do need to cut back as not all are used. Some face painters dont keep their kit clean and use the same sponge on many children. It is important to show good hygiene practices

Visit carol’s website

Suzy Sims
Originally from the UK (Scarborough) moves to the Sunshine Coast, Queensland 5 years ago with my Australian husband. Face painting for 23 years, started with a franchise at 3 haven holiday parks in Yorkshire.

I love the speed of one strokes for flowers..always get a wow and very simple to do.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all face painters bring?

Beat box for music…is a must for some events.

A foldable stool, to help the kiddies into my high chair..saves me lifting any children.

How do you bring things with you?

I have a makeup suitcase I bought from eBay. It is heat proof and heavy duty and most importantly has wheels. My high chair is light weight and I have a lightweight stand for my facepainting case. In my bag I carry water, 2 cups, hand cream, speaker, mints and antiperspirant.

What are your top tips for other face painters?

Case with wheels is a must and a light weight chair as lots of events have a bump in time, which don’t apply to me, as I can just walk into an event, so important as you don’t want to have to get to an event an hour earlier if you don’t need to.

Visit Suzy Sims’ website

Stacey Perry
I’m originally from Lafayette Louisiana and have been in New Orleans for the past two years where I work as a makeup artist for the film/TV industry along with face painting.

During a visit to Disney with my youngest daughter, Mya, was when the face painting bug bit me. Mya wanted hey face painted at every park, I was fascinated watching the process and thought, “hey, I can do this” and I did.

A quick tip : in like to add brush bath to my bottles of clean water before my gig to save the step when I’m busy painting.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all face painters bring?

  • Tape and scissors
  • Makeup eraser
  • Number clicker

Tape and scissors are great to have because you never know when you’ll need to make a quick sign. My makeup eraser is the perfect size to hang out of my pocket so I can quickly wipe off brushes or my hands. And my number clicker is a must have to calculate how many faces you can paint in an hour.

How do you bring things with you?

I use a CraftnGo XL mainly for my face painting kit. It’s all in one and has legs that pop out and wheels to make it easy to transport.

The CnG has separate compartments that make organizing supplies easy. Everything I need with the exception of my chair and Face painting board fits in this one case.

What are your top tips for other face painters?

Learn to pack for the event you are doing. I always pack to match the needs of my event, such as birthday parties, festivals, conventions etc…

Learning to pack light is a big task but one you’ll be happy you’ve learned. In reality, you should be able to have your paint, water/ sanitizer and brushes to do any event. Add a few extra options such as glitter and sponges and the rest is just a bonus. Try practicing with just a few items and see if you can get the same finished product as you did when you brought out the “big stuff”.

Every face paint packs differently. My advise to any new face Painter is to experiment with different setups until you find the right one for you.

I try not to think of face painters doing anything wrong, just different. However, I think sanitizing brushes,sponges and kit along with hands and keeping a clean area is the most overlooked skill by new face painters.

Visit Stacey perry ‘s website

Bodhi Del Mar
Originally hailing from Adelaide, South Australia, I now call the Gold Coast, Queensland home sweet home. I launched DEER ME! Face & body Art with the intention to cultivate more joy in my life, but I love it because it brings joy to so many others. I am also a practicing visual artists; specializing in photography, mixed media painting and cold glass … but face painting is truly the art of happiness!

The one thing that always blows customers minds is completing a great face paint FAST. The best advice I can give is have a dozen or so high impact designs that you love to paint and practice them over and over until you can do them in 1-2mins or less. Working at speed always leaves people amazed but also helps you move through your line quicker… a quick line is a happy line!

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all face painters bring?

  • Bucket & Water
  • Camera
  • Calendar (on my phone)

I ALWAYS bring bottles of my own filtered water for rinsing brushes plus a fishing bucket (with secure lid) to dump all of the used water and sponges in throughout the gig. It’s so simple but saves me so much time and worry. I don’t have to go searching for a water source when I turn up to the event (you could be painting in the middle of a festival and clean water could be a mile away!) or waste time searching for a safe place to dump it at the end of the gig… I just chuck the lid on and take it all home. By bringing my own water, I can also guarantee the quality, and not be stuck using unfiltered rain or bore water.

The other thing I ALWAYS bring is my camera. I’m amazed at how many face painters don’t take photos of their artwork or a quick snap of the event they’re at. This is a visual business and it is absolutely essential to photograph and share your current work as much as possible. More often than not, our best designs are ones that we are challenged to come up with on the spot, so I like to have my camera set and ready to go to grab a quick photo. Often face painters say they were just too busy to take photos, but I make it a priority as they are a great tool to get more bookings.

Lastly, I always have my work calendar on my mobile and ready to check available dates… I have booked so many gigs ON THE SPOT at other jobs because I was able to tell a parent/client immediately if I was available for their upcoming event… once they see me flicking through all the bookings in my calendar they really feel the urgency to lock in their event with me straight away.

The most useless thing someone could bring to a face painting gig is…. a bad attitude. We all have bad days but kids especially can pick up on our not-so-great vibes and at the end of the day, someone may not remember the artwork you did for them, but they’ll definitely remember how you made them feel.

How do you bring things with you?

I try to work with an efficient minimalist kit than I can take anywhere in a pinch… including as hand luggage on a plane. I use the 50L Paklite Synergy bag as it can be a wheeled, carried flat with a handle or used as a backpack… perfect for when I have my arms full with table, chairs and bucket! I’ve designed my kit to suit the bag instead of the other way round as it keeps me mindful of maintaining a minimalist kit. Otherwise it can be so, so easy to keep adding more and more unnecessary supplies (which all adds up to a lot of money!)

Everything fits perfectly, starting with the bigger stuff at the bottom, like my paint and brush case. Glitters and liquids get popped in the front zip section so they can cause minimal damage should they decide to explode.

What are your top tips for other face painters?

The best way to practice packing light is to prep your kit as if you had to fly with it as hand luggage. I love the creative challenge of working with the least amount of supplies as possible to still get the wow-factor designs that everybody loves. Packing light also helps me work smarter and quicker…. for example, I literally have one colour glitter in my kit, which goes with every design… I don’t have to waste time deciding which colour to use or, heaven forbid, wait for an indecisive child to choose which colour glitter/s they want! It’s just a simple no thanks or yes please and POW… glitter magic then next in line.

Visit Bodhi Del Mar’s website

“Auntie Stacey” Dennick
I live in Northern California, about two hours north of the Golden Gate Bridge, in beautiful Sonoma county. A friend encouraged me to try face painting many years ago. She showed me a few designs and I painted at birthday parties occasionally. When I moved to Wine Country in 2010, I decided to become professional. I started face painting most weekends, attended face painting conventions and practiced a lot. Having good supplies makes all the difference, it’s an investment-I want every color! But I have to limit it or my bag would weigh a ton.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all face painters bring?

  • I often bring balloons for twisting, which is a great addition for birthday parties, restaurants and lower volume gigs.
  • I always bring an extra mirror that sits on my table so kids can run over and check their make-up.
  • Although I don’t always use them, I like to bring some powder-based colors. These are great for super-hot days, wiggly toddlers and fairs where there is a long line, as they go on very quickly and don’t smear in hot weather.

How do you bring things with you?

I can fit just about everything I need into an old Eagle Creek rolling bag similar to the Gear Warrior™ 29. I like that it stays upright. It’s very important that I pack the same way so I can set up quickly and don’t forget anything. The bottom layer of the bag holds 3 plastic lock top containers containing individual paint cakes in containers that screw together for fast access; glitter and gems, hair clips, powders, 99% alcohol, lip applicators & body glue. Baby wipes go on top of them. My custom make-up case sits evenly on top of this. It uses less space to store the cakes with their lids on, but it takes too long to open all of those little containers, keep track of the lids, and put them away. When I open my case, I get oohs and ahs from guests observing the beautiful rainbow colors I have. Face painters are entertainers as well as artists, so I always arrive in a fun costume with flowers or something small painted on my own face.

Next, I place two folding holders full of paint brushes (from an art supply store) a plastic zip container with stencils, two small water bowls (better, IMHO, then the water containers that also hold brushes because they make it easier to change your water) and two ACE plastic buckets. One contains makeup sponges, a hand mirror, water spritzer, small brush holder, hand sanitizer, cards, a small towel, pen and notepad…so many little things. The other bucket goes under my table for used sponges and dirty baby wipes. My notebook of designs goes in front of the bag with my tablecloths. There’s even room in the top of the bag for a jacket. I strap the bag into my car’s backseat like a precious toddler so it doesn’t tip over. Packing this way, I can wheel in my gear and set up in five minutes.

I always lay out my supplies the same way, so that I don’t waste time looking for things. Another reason to keep your supplies to a minimum is that you might not have much table space at the party to spread out into.

What are your top tips for other face painters?

Safety is paramount. Only use skin-safe, high quality products. Use a disposable applicator for lip color, or clean your brush with 99% alcohol between kids. Parents appreciate smaller designs that avoid the sensitive eye area and messy mouth zone. Sure, that 5 year-old looks adorable in the chair with a full tiger face and painted lips, but within 2 minutes she or he will eat and drink and the bottom half of her face will be a mess.

Visit “Auntie Stacey” Dennick’s website

Shelly Luan
I come from a fine art background and stumbled upon the most FUN and BEAUTIFUL profession – painting lovely kiddies’ cute faces at birthday parties and events!

I was born in mainland China, went to college for art and design in south of France, but I currently live in New York City, and travel to all locations for work in the TriState area.

A few years ago, I was working as a teacher and translator. But I wanted to do something artistic with children and decided to face paint in the Central Park for free. I loved it so much and kept improving my skills, until many people started calling me for their kids’ parties. Then I knew, I had found my dream business and calling.

My favorite trick is to speak with the child for a few moments and get a feel of his or her “sprit”, then create something in the color and mood specially for this child. Sometimes it’s deep and sparkly like the galaxy with lots of glitter, sometimes it’s bright and sunny with cheerful rainbow colors, and sometimes, it’s playful and fun with swirly brushwork in fluid movements.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all face painters bring?

Hahha, great questions! I often marvel at how much other face painters bring, as I only have a small backpack, two small cases of mixed rainbow one-stroke paint cakes, and some brushes. I would say my kit is a lot more minimalist comparing to other face painters, because I believe mastering how to use all the colors and brushes I have, plus the fun interaction with the kids is key to being a great face painter. It also helps me set up very quickly, without having to bring suitcases of supplies. I do love my Huggies brand baby wipes, to keep my fingers and supplies impeccably clean; my favorite little red cups that I wash and reuse for each party; and a compact little mirror my dad bought for me to support my love for the art, when I first started the business. I would say these three things always keep me calm and happy, and are my lucky items! I see a lot of things that people carry around, and take time to set up onto their work station, but barely use at all.. some of which I cannot even figure out what they’re for.

How do you bring things with you?

I carry everything in a small backpack, and have plenty of room in their. It’s a Swiss Army backpack that I used when I was in high school in San Francisco. I still love it and use it all the time! I keep everything very clean and separate, zip lock bags are great for dirty sponges or lose items. Most of my paints fit in two little photo album containers, and I also have a separate pouch for glitter, spray bottle and stencils. And most importantly, I have a little card holder for my business cards and flyers, which are super critical for any business owner to have and carry around at all times – when people love your work and express admiration, you must hand them your business card and remind them to give you a call when it’s time for their baby’s birthday party.

What are your top tips for other face painters?

I would say to every face painter, enjoy time with each child, give them undivided attention and love, because that’s what’s most important in this profession. And have confidence in yourself, don’t worry about not doing a good job, because your fear will translate into frustration and mistakes. There is no right or wrong design, just one that you’ve put your heart into! In order to pack light, you have to be firm about eliminating things from your kit that you haven’t used at all for the last few gigs. I know some things look pretty, for example, a sparkly eyelash power or glitter jewels that you’ll have to put on with glue – you think you will find ways to use them , but either because they take a long time to open, apply on the face or dry, or because most of your designs won’t require them, you’ll just be carrying them around for the extra weight, especially at a fast paced party, leave these things at home. If you can keep everything in a backpack, you’ll be able to travel between jobs like lightening, and save a lot of stress, even end up working more parties than you normally could.

Visit Shelly Luan’s website

Melissa Munn
I’m from the east coast and I have run a fun and busy face painting company in Manhattan for over 10 years. We average 20-25 bookings per week. My daughter was obsessed with face painting when she turned four and I quickly became obsessed with it too! I love arty cakes and rainbow cakes and the wow factor they bring! I love also having a bag where I can pack up in 2.5 minutes FLAT. It is all about the bag!! Packing up quickly eases the transition from one job to the next. I do multiple events per day and I am always looking for a better bag solution.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all face painters bring?

I have seen people bring palettes upon palettes of different shades of the same color, we can’t carry all that in Manhattan. In NYC, my team and I have to carry everything we bring so we have to A. be very strong because we love our supplies and B. carry everything up and down the subway stairs; it can add up to TWELVE flights of stairs if you are taking a local train and then an express train to your event and back. I know. It’s crazy. We are tired!

During fall and winter, I loved putting a plain black cloth bag in the top of my Zuca right under the handle because then I can pull it out and put all my winter coat and accessories in it and store it out of sight under the table rather than have it looking sloppy on the back of my chair or on the dirty floor under the table.

No one in NYC uses a craft and go because while they look amazing and are super convenient, they are too heavy. I wish they would make a lighter version. I have seen painters from NJ come in and do gigs with it and they are dying because it is way too heavy for the city.

The best thing I have besides all my glitters and paints, is a little bag attached to the handle of my kit which contains the following (it is like a little makeup pouch: it contains my lip liner, my lipstick, my glitter for my lips, one external cell phone battery with cord, one cell phone charger, a small tin of mints, a few extra business cards and ideally if it were bigger, it would fit my house keys in there. But the problem is, the clip broke a few days ago and I lost the entire pouch! So now I have to replace everything which is expensive. Hoping to find it still! Sometimes I have to eat my breakfast on the subway ( I know, so gross but my life is just like that some days) so it’s nice I can have a breath mint and put my lipstick and sparkles on before each gig!)

The other thing I really like in a bag is an outside pocket where I can fit my wallet and some snacks for easy access. I do not bring a purse to any event, it’s too much to carry and I wouldn’t want it to get stolen or leave it behind somewhere.

How do you bring things with you?

I had a great experience with my Zuca bag and I packed up very quickly each time I used it, it is magic for leaving an event quickly and not having to entertain the “just one more” constant requests when we are leaving and booked elsewhere and just have to get to the next gig. The Zuca bag has rollerblade wheels!! They are very durable, though the ballbearings in mine were coming undone. The Zuca bag is also great because you can sit on it, so on the subway if I couldn’t get a seat, what a relief it was to have it.Though the seat made it heavier so it was a mixed blessing. But the zipper started fraying and and when I reached out to the company, they told me they do not replace or repair anything, so even though the bag was expensive, I guess the company just expects you to reinvest in an a new one. The other down side is that is it VERY heavy and lugging it up the stairs was just starting to feel debilitating.

The other bad thing is that my brush holder never fit inside the Zuca suitcase so I had to slip it into the outside pocket. I lost my entire brush holder getting into a taxi once!!! And I had six gigs over the next two days and had to buy all new subpar brushes that night from Micheals. It was a surreal nightmare. I clipped it on the bag from then on but I still miss those brushes!!! I shudder to think of that experience.

I went with a Samsonite bag next and that’s what I am currently using but I am not happy. It is not quite big enough. It is lighter than the Zuca. I can’t sit on it which is ok. But the wheels stink, they are getting whittled down to nothing. Honestly, I JUST NEED ROLLER BLADE WHEELS ON A SMALL SUITCASE WITH AN OUTSIDE POCKET that is the right size to put into an overhead luggage bin because I do not check my face painting kit ever.

The problem with most bags are that the wheels always blow up after a few months. I got my samsonite bag in January and the wheels are getting ready to go already, so I need to invest in yet another bag.

What are your top tips for other face painters?

My top tips include subscribing to FabaTV, practicing every day and being nice to everyone you meet because you never know when they might turn into a client! And don’t do this job if you don’t love children and don’t enjoy people!

If you truly love children and enjoy people, that will come across in every interaction and will make your business grow more than being a perfect painter!

Visit Melissa Munn’s website

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