Picture This

Silly Heather GreenI am fortunate to have gigs coming in from all angles. I work with several agents in the south Florida area and they bring me great work. The only downside to it, is that every agency requires a little something different. One agency emails me a gig sheet with directions and more event info than i’ll ever need. While other agencies send me on blind parties and I hold my breathe until the event ends.

About 5 years ago, an agent booked me and it seemed business as usual. Two days prior to the party, I came down with strep throat. Up to that point I had never missed a gig. I pride myself on doing a great job and never letting anyone down, so knowing I had to give my job away was difficult. I called my BFF to cover for me. I called the agency and spoke the the assistant planner and she made the switch. The day of the event I get a call from the birthday mom livid with me. She was upset because the agency had sent her my picture with her contract and she wanted to know why I didn’t show up and why they sent a replacement without notifying her.

I did my best to keep cool and not be reactive, but I didn’t know what shocked me more; The fact the lady had my picture, or the fact that she called to scream at me about it. Long story short, I calmed the lady down, explained my strep throat and told her I would find out from the agency why she wasn’t notified.

The next day I called the agent and told them the story. They told me that they email every client the picture of the entertainer coming to their event so there are no surprises. The owner of the agency told me that because she was sending performers into the homes of high end clients, she wanted the customer to feel safe prior to the event. Her idea made sense to me, surely I’d be more relaxed if I knew that the painter I hired for my kids birthday party wouldn’t show up covered in tattoos and piercings.

The downside to sending a picture in advance is that pictures speak a thousand words. If you send a picture ahead of time and the clients doesn’t like your look it can cost you the job. It is still very common to judge a book by its cover. So if you send a picture of yourself, they will base your talent on your appearance. And you have to be willing to defend your look. The other problem with sending a picture is that you can not change artists at the last minute because the party parents know what you look like. The mom that screamed at me, felt I was trying to scam her. I explained that my BFF was amazing and just as good, and luckily the woman agreed to let her stay. In the end it worked out and it opened my mind.

Sending a picture ahead of time is good customer service. If you have a website with your profile picture or about us page, send the link to your customers. It will allow them to put a face with a name and set their minds at ease. Playing guess who and what will show up at the door is not a fun game. Preparing my customers means happy customers, and I’m all about that.

If you are being booked from an advert or referral and the client has never seen you, giving them a glimpse of what they will get is not only helpful, it can mean building a loyal customer.

If you are going to send a picture, make sure it is event appropriate and that it conveys a professional, accurate portrayal of you. Planning makes perfect and picture perfect can be your way to get noticed!

Happy painting! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! :)

Heather is the CEO of Silly Farm Supplies, a face and body art supplies company located in Davie, Florida.

5 thoughts

  1. My Picture is on all my promotional pictures and on my website, and I have created an additional page on my website for painters who regularly work with me, so should we need to switch jobs around we can and everyone is happy, just a quick call a day or two before to confirm and say which artist will be with you is always appreciated. We have lots of repeat customers very loyal corporate and great word of mouth referral bookings. Giving great customer service is sometimes more appreciated than the level that you paint at.

  2. I understand the woman’s surprise, but she was incredibly wrong to contact you directly if she booked through an agency. If there was an issue with someone else showing up, she should have contacted the agency, not you. The agency is also at fault as they should have contacted her IMMEDIATELY and notified her of the situation with a brief, professional explanation as to why there was a change.

    Also, you should have been informed from the very beginning that they were giving clients your photo and telephone number and required your consent. I agree, it is a good idea, but you should have been told first. I hope you dropped that agency. They seem to have been very lax in their administrative procedures.

    Definitely a good heads up for anyone who uses agents to make sure they know the policies of the agencies with whom they’re working so there are no surprises. 😉

  3. I have always put my photo on my website and sometimes on my business cards too – when it comes to young children I’m certain people just want reassurance. They’re not concerned with how beautiful I am (or am not) but it helps them to know that their face painter isn’t going to turn up in crumpled clothes or (for a man) unshaven. People can read much into a scruffy look. That could be embarrassing to the host in front of their friends and a quick glance at a picture reassures that they will get professionalism.

  4. Hello Heather,

    I am sorry to hear this story. I imagine your BFF was uncomfortable as well. :-(

    Here is my take…For every negative experience in LIFE, create a new approach to avoid the same snag…For every positive experience in LIFE, make it a practice, share it and keep it ALIVE.

    In this case, create a new approach: Confirm ALL final expectations with both the agency AND event contact person for every event. This will at least minimize the horror of disappointment for the agent, client and performer.

    Thank you for sharing. I now have a new approach thanks to you.

    Until we chat again…Keep it pawsitive,

  5. I agree with the idea of having your picture out there for clients, and looking professional is key… I would say that tattoos and piercings don’t have to be a negative thing–I’m a young, artistic professional, and I’m tattooed. Visibly tattooed; in fact I even have (small) hand and neck tattoos, as well as a half sleeve. BUT my tattoos are feminine, delicate, and pretty, and I’ve never had anyone say anything but “wow, that’s gorgeous”. I work at a day care centre for my “day job”, and it’s not even an issue there. Tattoos aren’t just for big, bearded bikers. I would definitely agree with the statement if it said ‘scary tattoos’–nobody wants to see zombie/blood-and-guts/skeleton tattoos on their face painter! I know what the article was trying to say, and what was meant by that sentence, I just want to clarify that there are exceptions to the rule.
    And it probably depends on the area where you live and work–I live near Toronto, Canada, and I guess public opinion may be different in more rural, conservative areas.
    Just my two cents…

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