No doubt this is the most frequently asked question by beginners wanting to learn how to become a face painter. Professionals will also benefit from seeing what others charge to keep up with the market and inflation!
Be sure to read the whole article to get the best understanding of this important business matter. We’re here to help you get really confident in your rates and show respect and love for yourself in your business practices and pricing. The love and respect we receive from the world start within us.
Before you move on reading, I suggest you check our previous post “Starting your face painting business. Investments and hidden costs” for a better understanding of the expenses and easier calculation of your own rates.
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Hourly averages by country and region
Why does face painting cost so much?
How to set your rates for Beginner and Professional face painters
Pricing Mistakes Beginner Face Painters Make
Why Face Painters should never work for free…
How to charge for travel for entertainers
When should you raise your rates?
How to raise your rates!
Face Painter Pricing Strategies
How do I set a fair price for my face painting as a beginner?
This is a great question! Beginners may think that making $30+ USD/hr or more is a GREAT hourly rate compared to other jobs, but for many areas, this is WAY below the market rate for this service. If you’re leaving a minimum-wage job to start your own business, you may feel really rich when you start getting your first clients…
But don’t make the mistake of comparing your rates as a business owner to those of an employee. You have a lot of expenses to cover!
Charging too low as a beginner is bad for you and the whole industry. If you’ve made the mistake of charging too low, this is something that you’ll need to correct quickly or risk facing some serious problems for your business. We’ll cover how to change your rates later on.
Start by learning what the average rate for your area is!
You may be surprised to know that the average rate for face painting in the USA in 2023 is $75-200 USD per hour, depending on the service area and the artist’s experience and skill.
You can view a more complete and detailed regional list in the table below, but a few other price ranges are as follows:
- The hourly range for face painting in Australia in 2023 is 80-200 AUD.
- The hourly range for face painting in Canada in 2023 is 60-175 CAD.
- The hourly range for face painting in Germany in 2023 is 40-120 EUR.
- The hourly range for face painting in Mexico in 2023 is 350-1200 MXN.
- The hourly range for face painting in the UK in 2023 is 30-80 GBP.
How much do Face Painters Charge Per Hour and Per Face throughout the World in 2023:
This data was collected by the International Face Painting School team directly from the thousands of face painters who are on our Open Face Painting Group on Facebook, subscribed to our Newsletter, or have graduated from our school!
Rates are current as of Oct. 2023, though a few marked* rates may be included from our previous research on this topic in 2017.
You may see notes on a few common pricing practices that go beyond the simple hourly rate and PPF numbers. You can read more about them in our Face Paint Pricing Strategies section at the end of this article.
If you have professional rates to add to this table, email us with your country, region, hourly, and pay per face charges at [email protected].
Note: we will not include rates that are far below the professional average rate for an area.
** Please allow 3-5 seconds for data table to load!
Some who are unfamiliar with this industry may ask, “Why does face painting cost so much?”
You need to factor these things into your pricing:
Living Expenses in your area!
Painters in high-cost areas such as major cities will charge more to account for their higher living and travel expenses. This is standard practice for all businesses and accounts for some of the highest rates that you’ll notice in our Face Painting Rates throughout the World chart!
For example, in San Francisco, California, living and travel expenses are very high, and face painting services can range from $200-300+ USD per hour. But in rural areas of the UK and Scotland, 35-50+ GBP is more standard (equivalent to approximately 40-60 USD). This is a factor that will affect everyone regardless of your experience or skill.
Tools and Supply Costs
A professional kit can cost anywhere from $500-$3,000+! A good kit will include professional face paints, sponges, brushes, stencils, glitter, a case to carry it in, a brush wallet, sponge bag, table and chairs, a tent if applicable, signage, and more.
Watch this quick kit tour by Elodie Ternois (Lodie Up) for an idea of everything included in a Professional Kit:
View this post on Instagram
Liability insurance is essential to protect yourself and your business. You can learn all about that in our article, Insurance for Professional Face Painters.
- website costs,
- marketing and advertising fees,
- space to store your equipment,
- a reliable automobile for commuting,
- subscription costs for agent sites like Gigsalad and Thumbtack,
- financial services such as a CPA to help with your taxes,
- invoicing services, including credit card processing and fees,
- business record-keeping services like Quickbooks,
- and depending on your business there may be even more like photo editing software, a web developer or training in web development, marketing and business classes, a computer, a business phone line, etc.
Though there are some great free training options on Youtube, Instagram, in Facebook groups, and even our own blog, you’ll find that the best painters and those who charge the most are the ones who choose to invest in professional training whether through our Certification program and Online Summit events or by traveling to conventions and workshops.
Investing in training makes your services and quality better, which is one way you can increase the value to your customers. Professional training will pay itself off quickly if you’re charging a fair rate for your services!
You will use many tools and spend a great deal of time practicing for events, which is part of the expenses you have to cover to improve your business and keep making money rather than losing it.
Olga Murasev’s practice on Sparkling Faces boards.
Travel and gas costs.
Many artists include a travel charge in addition to their hourly rate. We will cover this in greater detail later in this article, or you can skip ahead to read more about charging for travel.
Your Preparation Time!
We do SO many things to prepare for an event that take lots of time. The time you spend at an event is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the time investment you’re making when you get hired. Here are some other things that take our time that we need to include when setting our hourly rate:
- Communication with clients and event scheduling
- Practice time (So much practice, practice, practice!! And those who don’t practice certainly don’t provide the same quality of work.)
- Preparing a menu, special themed designs, etc.
- Cleaning and sanitizing your supplies (washing brushes, sponges, etc.)
- Set up and take down time (e.g. you arrive 30 minutes early to get set up for an event and spend an extra 15 minutes after the event cleaning up)
Taxes and fees.
As a business owner, you will need to pay business licensing fees, register your business locally, and likely pay higher taxes on your income working for yourself than working for someone else (it’s double in the US!). If you don’t account for these things in your pricing and planning early on, you could be in the red come tax season…
How to Set Your Hourly Rate for Beginner and Professional Face Painters:
Keeping in mind what we’ve discussed so far, these are the next steps to setting your rate.
What do other face painters charge in your area?
Every area of the world will have a different rate. No doubt you’ll be able to charge more if you are face painting in Switzerland compared to someone who works in Romania. Similarly, living expenses in the US are significantly higher than in many other areas, so rates will also be higher.
Reach out to painters in your area and find out what the average is!
In most cases, there will be an already existing community of artists, and a little research looking up professional services in your area online plus a couple of phone calls will help set a price range for you to work with.
But if face painting is a new service in your area and you are the first one to start offering it (yep, that happened to Olga when she started doing face painting in Moldova back in 2011), then you may want to check out what entertainers charge (balloon artists, clowns, magicians, etc.). This will give you an approximate idea of what people are ready to spend on entertainment in your area.
You can also check rates relevant for 2023 on our table of hourly and pay-per-face rates we’ve collected from hundreds of painters worldwide.
No matter your experience, Professionals WANT you to charge within the area’s average price range.
Setting an average of prices between artists in the same area is very important and will benefit everyone no matter how experienced. If you have just started and are undercharging, your clients are going to get the wrong impression that more experienced painters are overcharging.
You will also find it difficult to raise your prices in the future when you perfect your skills and speed, won’t be able to cover your expenses and make some profit with the money you earn.
So, once you’ve calculated your expenses, start as you mean to go on with a medium price for the area.
If you feel you need to start lower than the average price range as you build up your designs, speed, and clientele, advertise a limited-time discount on the rate you plan to charge in the future. Run this discount only for a limited period, such as 3-6 months.
It’s important for even Professionals who have 10+ years of experience to stay current with their rates! When you’ve polished your skills and become faster, taken on special training or certification, or if the cost of living has increased, then you should consider pushing your prices up as well.
One more surprising but true fact about how price perception works is that if people will pay more, they will value you more. Keep that in mind!
Pricing Mistakes Beginner Face Painters Make
Charging too low because of inexperience
You should not advertise your services outside of friends and family until you’re ready to charge a fair rate for them.
If you have just started, your range of face-painting skills is probably quite narrow and you are not as quick as those who have been doing it for years.
If you don’t feel confident with your skills, start by attending a Professional face painting course and by practicing at home on yourself or on models.
Donating your services to charity events can be a solution if you need more practice on your speed. But be aware that those charities will likely return to you for future free events even when your skills and speed have improved. Only donate services to causes that really matter to you, to which you would be happy to donate your time in the future. Never donate your services to anyone you hope to have to pay your rates later.
You don’t need to have painted for 5+ years to be experienced… Our Professional Course will make you a certified pro with all the skills you need to thrive in this industry and wow and amaze your clients in as little as 3-6 months!!
Why Face Painters should never agree to work for free…
Do not underestimate your work in front of your clients by not charging them for what you do. If you aren’t ready, better not to take the job and spend more time on perfecting your skills.
If you agree to work for free in the beginning, next time you will be ready to offer a much better quality service, and your clients will expect that you will work for the same conditions as earlier.
We could write a whole article on why you shouldn’t work for free and how to handle requests for free or hugely discounted services professionally. If you’re interested in that article, let us know in the comments!
But one key to remember is that running a professional face painting business isn’t even close to free.
If you are not running your business as a professional with insurance and safe, professional face paints, only cosmetic glitters, etc., then you are not ready to take any clients, free or otherwise.
Also, there are professionals who make a whole living and even provide for their families as face painters. If you hope to be one, you need to charge a fair value for your services. If you face paint just for side income, you’ll do better charging a fair value as well.
And if you face paint only as a creative outlet, you should also charge a fair rate to account for your supplies, insurance, business licensing, taxes, training, etc. as well as to show respect for yourself and for the artistic professionals in all areas.
Pricing our work appropriately, saying “no” when necessary, and setting concrete financial goals for our creative practice are signs of self-respect. The larger culture exploits artists, in part, because we allow it. But you can change this attitude! Make it worth your while. Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.
What about donating your services?
When you donate your services to causes that you find important that’s very different than working for free for exposure or due to a lack of confidence or experience. A donation of services and even supplies has a value.
When donating services, be clear about what your normal hourly rate is with your clients even when offering to donate some or all. It is profoundly different than taking away all value by calling your services free, and will help them to pass along accurate information when they recommend your services to others who you would not want to donate your services to.
How to charge for travel for entertainers
Time and petrol are money, and so you need to account for travel expenses somewhere in your pricing. There are a few popular ways to do this:
- Map a perimeter you are ready to drive to per a certain payment and add concentric circles with a set travel price assigned to each area. Show this map to your client whenever you get a booking or post it publicly on your website so that clients don’t think that you keep moving the price to get more.
- Charge more for the first 1-2 hours of your services in order to account for travel to and from the event. (e.g. 130 GBP for a 2-hour party in Yorks, UK, with additional hours at 35 GBP per hour.)
- Set an hourly minimum for your events, such as only taking 2+ hour events for areas outside a certain radius to make sure the travel time will be worth it. It is not uncommon for face painters to require a 2-hour minimum for all bookings.
- Charge per mile or per minute for everything above your set radius. (e.g. +0.42 EUR/km for travel in Belgium or $10 CAD/ each additional 10 minutes of driving in Alberta, Canada). We collected some travel fee data in our research, and you can view it as additional information in the hourly column of this Pricing table.
Consider your minimum time
Make it worth your while. Think about how much profit you will get for a half of an hour gig that you have to drive across the city.
When should you raise your rates?
You improve your services:
Improving your services can come about in a number of ways. Here are a few:
- Get Professional training and certification — You can read how this has impacted the lives of other Face Painters like you around the world here.
- Use better products for better designs
- Offer additional services such as Festival Glitter, bling, or SFX Halloween makeup
- Improve your speed by learning techniques and designs for fast and impressive work
You can read more about this topic in our article, How to Work Fewer Hours and Make More Money in Face Painting!
High demand seasons:
At certain times of the year, face painting is in greater demand than usual. These include Halloween, Easter, some public holidays, and big local events.
One simple rule here is that higher demand means that you can lift your rates, and your clients will still be happy to pay them. It’s a common practice to double (some artists even triple) your rates during Halloween.
Your calendar is overbooked all year!
Another situation is when you’ve become a professional, and built a wide base of permanent clients until you are overbooked during the entire year. Congratulations! That means that you can charge more for your work! You may lose some of your clients after that, but you will work less and still earn the same (or more ).
Your line is too long for PPF:
If you are offering face painting for, let’s say, $5 and the waiting time in line is 30 minutes or more, lift your price! Change the price tag on your board to $7 (don’t forget to tell people standing in the line that they will still get their face painting for the previous price). Your line will shorten, but you will be surprised how many people will still be willing to get their faces painted!
How to raise your rates?
Maybe you’ve realized now that you have some pricing adjustments to make. How can you do that when you’ve posted your prices and have returning clients who won’t want to pay more?
I would recommend that you announce in advance that you’ll be raising your rates and why (to keep up with inflation, because you’ve invested in higher quality products, added services, taken on professional training, etc.) and give your current customers a chance to book you at your current rate before the new rates take effect!
It may look something like this:
If you’re changing your rates dramatically, you likely won’t convince your old clients to pay your new rates. You will need to market yourself to the clients who will pay your higher rates, which may involve dressing more professionally and creating better marketing (like higher quality pictures, a good business name and logo, and a website if you don’t have one).
It’s very much worth the investment in yourself to improve in these areas. These are all ways to show yourself and others that you are something special and worth what you charge. ✨️
Face Painter Pricing Strategies:
There are some common and some less common pricing strategies that go beyond a simple price per hour and per face that may work well for you! Here are a few examples of how face painters around the world are pricing their services:
- The first hour is more — many painters include travel in the first hour rate or charge more for the first hour as an incentive to book additional hours. We have noticed a 25% or more increase is not uncommon for the first hour. If you want to try this, we don’t recommend starting with more than a 50% increase on your hourly rate for the first hour.
- Two-hour minimum — A very common practice in many countries worldwide. This helps ensure that the party was worth the drive and also that you don’t end up with more kids to paint in 1 hour than you can comfortably handle.This may not work well if you frequently do small parties (10 kids or less) in your own town (not a long drive) as you may deter your customers who only need a 1-hour booking.
- Additional hours at a discounted rate — This is commonly done for 3+ hours, though not by any means something you need to do. Having one hourly rate is also very common. Don’t discount your additional hours so much that they’re under the market value for face painting in your area.You may even find that those who are willing to book you with the discount are also willing to book you without it if you can sell them on why additional time for their party will be beneficial to their event.
- Agent rate — If you are working for another artist’s business rather than finding the customers yourself, you will be offered an agent or contracting rate. Those shared with us, we included in the chart of rates above. It’s a good idea to ask around and find out what is typically paid for contracted work in your area. It may be on the low end, but shouldn’t be below the range for your area in most cases though.Working for an agent can be a great way to get your calendar full while you are just starting out, but keep in mind that you will be providing all the supplies, your time, your skill, and your own insurance. Most contracts also specify that you cannot promote your own business and will need to hand out only the agent’s business cards. So, I would recommend that if your business is well established you work to build up your own clientele rather than relying on others.
- Additional artists at a discounted rate — Because many pay their helpers, employees, trainees, and contracting artists a discounted rate, it can work to charge the client a discounted rate for additional artists. This can incentivize clients to hire more artists which can make the events more enjoyable for attendees and for you as a painter! It also reflects well on your business if you can get through a line more quickly because you are well-staffed for the event.It also may be necessary if your helpers and trainees are not up to par on their skills, though we discourage using anyone for your events who will not reflect well on your business. Better to spend additional time training before sending them out if they are not up to your company standards.
If, however, you are hiring other artists at their full rate (which may be necessary if you need to hire contracted workers around large holidays), you should not feel obligated to offer the client a discount for multiple artists
- Charging more for Corporate Events— Corporations often host larger events, have larger budgets, and also require more paperwork than private parties such as birthday parties. You may need to feel out tax documentation, wait for a company check to be cut, pay credit card fees, spend additional time invoicing, and more. Some artists charge more for these events to account for the additional time and potential fees.
- Discounted weekdays — This can mean discounting your rate for birthday parties or events held on a Thursday instead of Saturday.Also, you may want to consider this if you can find a venue to market at regularly (weekly or biweekly), it may be worth discounting your rate and accepting tips in order to promote yourself on a night you normally wouldn’t have events. This will depend on your marketing needs and if you can find a venue that’s a good fit for your services (able to guarantee traffic of clients who could pay your full rate and are likely to hire you).
- Speed Painting at a higher rate — Speed painting can be stressful and also uses more product. It requires a different set of skills, which can make it a valuable asset if that’s the market you want to serve. If you can paint 25+ faces per hour, you can charge more for that service as a “speed painting” rate.
- Charity/fundraiser rate — Many who choose to do charities and fundraising events at a discounted rate will have a set hourly that they will come down to for a licensed charity or nonprofit. This is not at all essential for you to do. Many businesses do not discount rates even for charities as filling up weekends with discounted work means turning down full-paying events.I recommend only discounting for a charity if you are willing to donate money to the organization and can afford to turn down full-priced events to be there. It is okay to say, “No, this event is not a good fit for my business.”
- Discounting with a Tip Jar — Some painters choose to discount their rate for high-traffic events and try to make up the difference by putting out a tip jar. This is a risk that you can choose to take on or not. You will find what works for you, but it will depend largely on your area, quality of service, and the specific event on whether tips could make up the difference.From my personal experience, I am likely to receive large tips at a fully-paid event as a discounted one. In fact, often more likely because the customers who can pay my full rate are more likely to have guests who are able to tip (guests who pay entrance fees expect to spend more money than those who don’t, etc.).Also, I’ve noticed that free-to-the-public events with long waits are much less profitable in tips. So if you anticipate the event will be very busy with long wait times and you will not be able to do your best work, I would not count on a tip jar making up for a low hourly rate.
What about belly painting?
Most artists have a set price for belly painting, no matter how big and elaborate the design is. You may also want to take into consideration:
- how big is the design; is it just the belly or the face, arms, decolletage etc. as well
- do you have to drive to the client, and how far is the venue, or is the client coming to you
I have painted about 60 bellies throughout all my experience as a face painter and body artist. I noticed that most designs took me 1-2 hours to create, so I just set a fixed price, which was equal to my 1,5 hour rate.
Check out my blog post “Secrets for Perfect Belly Painting”.
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I hope this post was useful and will help you come up with your own rates easier now.
How much do you charge for your services? 🤔 Let’s help the new face painters come up with fair prices by sharing ours here in the comments 👇 👇 👇