by Heather Green
One of the most common questions I am asked while painting is this your full time job?” When I answer yes, people are always amazed that being an artists can actually pay the bills. As with any industry, the amount of time invested in your business, usually determines the return on your investment.
I have had the pleasure of meeting SO many talented artists over the years. Many of them have invited me to work with them at their events, and I have learned so much along the way. This weekend had the pleasure of working with an amazingly talented business woman and artist Melissa Munn of Face Art by Melissa. She is one of the hardest working painters I know and her business is booming with GREAT clients. Melissa’s accounts include the NYC football club, the NY Rangers, Yankees, and Islanders. That evening while watching the NBA playoffs, I also noticed several fans with the Trailblazers logo painted on their faces and dedicated Warrior fans supporting their team with Gold and Blue. The growing popularity and mainstream interest in face paint inspired this blog and hopefully will inspire you to seek out sporting event contracts.
Sporting events are often overlooked, largely in part because people don’t know where, how or who to contact to offer their services. I picked the brains and asked for advice to share from friends that have worked hard to acquire Sports contracts and have had success with them. A special thank you to Melissa Munn, Elisa Griffith, Maddy Wayne, Susy Amaro, and Sonny Banks for your words of wisdom.
So Where do you start if you want to seek out Sporting Event contracts?
Make a collage of your best sports designs, catering to a specific team. Include their logo if it’s not too complicated and make sure the shade of the paint in your designs matches their team colors exactly! This is very important as both fans and clients will notice and not be happy if the shade is off! Laminate your collage and think about ways to get it into the hands of that team’s decision makers Call the main office and see if you can get an email address for the events planner. Do you know anyone who may know someone in the office for that team? Ask around! Even if you just go over to the box office where tickets are sold, all painted up (and don’t forget to be super friendly so that they will want to help you) that might get your collage into the right hands, either via email or a physical copy, that of course, has your name, phone number, website and logo on it!
Its important to remember that not everyone knows about face painting, and that most of the decision makers for sporting teams have a million things going on. Chances are they are thinking of ideas, but its always better when YOU plant the seed. YES! It will require time on your part to paint and take pics of the designs, layout a promo page, and spend time researching whom to send it to. If the end result is a full season contract, it was time well spent!
Do your research to find Marketing agencies that are already working with sports teams. I knew someone at a marketing agency and I was fortunate enough to have been able to give them my contact information first hand. After the first event, it was such a success that they started asking me for other events, and other cities. Luckily I have access to an amazing group of painters and am able to fill jobs nationwide.
I search (google) marketing agencies and send them my promo material with business card. I find that they love that I can give them ideas so they don’t have to think of them.
Advice from Sonny CEO of All Star Events:
Professional sports teams are a tight knit club. If you are able to secure one team you are in a position to book several others. They rely heavily on referrals and will continue to use your services as long as you are performing to their expectations. We have been providing amazing event services for several South Florida teams for over 20 years. We started off by partnering with team charities, (Heat Cares) and networked our way to meeting the higher up decision makers. One year we purchased season tickets, in order to be able to attend the “special” events and meet the planners. That was one of our best investments, because the team appreciated the support and we were able to land full season accounts. Remember teams have hundreds of millions of dollars, they don’t always shop on price, but rather reliability, professionalism, insurance and recommendations.
Advice from Susy Amaro of Funny Cheeks:
Both of my large sorts contracted came in through event planning agencies.
I did not contact them. They found me through google search. My advice is
- First, set the stage. Meaning have a professional looking website. Also, if you have previously served big clients, display their logos on the home page of your website.
- Invest on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) If you want to be found by the big guys, this is the way to go.
- Play the part. Act and talk like a professional, and like you know what you are talking about. These people have no time to waist, they have many other things to take care of in addition to a face painter. Make it as easy as possible for them to book you.
The good, bad and ugly of Sports contracts:
While sports contracts are impressive resume boosters, and can lead to nice profits its also important to consider some of the following:
I had the awesome pleasure of painting for the Miami Dolphins for many years. The team hired 6-10 painters per home game for 3 hours prior to kick off. I was not the agent for the account, but I did see her spending countless hours organizing painters, adjusting set up locations, making changes as per the clients, and coordinating parking passes. If you are interested in acquiring a sports contract make sure to consider the time and effort that goes into executing an entire season of perfect events.
Melissa Munn, created “sports kits” for each painter that included everything needed to recreate the designs on the design board. The kits are uniform and help keep time spent per client under 4 minutes. The teams appreciate her professionalism and she is able to manage her painters and costs using that system. I have painted for several Miami Heat events and even though they did not ask me to create a menu board, I took it upon myself to have their logo cut ( with permission) and create a menu board to take with me to games. It helps me minimize my kit and maximize productivity. At the end of the day, the teams want as many people painted as possible, and our goal is to grow our accounts and increase business.
Rules, Extra time and Security:
Long gone are the days of simple check ins and lax rules. 5 years ago, I would be able to show up to Heat events 20 minutes prior to start time and be set up with time to spare. Now I have to budget in an extra 45 minutes to an hour for parking, check in, security and clearance. Most sporting events have strict rules about set ups, security, they have sniffing dogs and many times hold your license until you finish the event. Be prepared to address this with your painters to avoid being late.
Advice from Maddy Wayne:
Parking and Weather
Parking and shelter must be included. Parking is costly and hard to find, so this is a requirement. And depending on location, you may be painting in extreme heat or extreme cold, so be sure that your shade and fans or protection from cold is included in the contract.
Prep Time, displays, and negotiation:
When negotiating a seasonal contract its important to cover all the bases to make sure the season flows smoothly. Remember the ultimate goal is to make the team a life long client. I live in an area, where 99% of the population drives and its standard that we (face painters) always bring a table and chair. Where in NYC it is rare that painters drive to their events and almost always request a table and chair for their services.
If you are the booking agent and organizer for your team, you will want to take into account the prep time, expenses, and organizational components of servicing this type of account. Melissa organizes, and provides kits for each painter. Elisa staffs events around the country but requires artists to use their own set ups. The Miami Heat has very few restrictions and does not require a display board, but the Miami Dolphins limit us to paint ONLY Dolphin fan art and has to pre-approve designs. It is important to accommodate the needs of your client without complicating the service.
Prepare a proposal with everything included. But keep it simple. Bullet points with what you will do and what you will need for example
- Professional face painters will provide amazing Fan face painting from 12-3 on game days
- Fans will choose from a menu display created by face painting team
- Client will provide table and 2 chairs per artist
- Professional face painters will dress in team colors (unless otherwise instructed)
- Painters will arrive 1 hour early for security clearance and set up
Include an image of your menu display and do not forget to include an image of you with your set up. Sports teams spend millions to promote their brand and if you want a piece of the action you have to be prepared and professional.
It’s also important to get written permission if you will be cutting any professional team sports logos. Trendy Tribals and Ruby Red cut custom stencils and require written permission before they will produce a trademarked team logo. You do not want to find yourself in a hairy position if you didn’t get written permission.
Advice from Maddy Wayne:
Lastly, your primary contact will most likely be an overworked, overwhelmed marketing intern, and you are not high on their priority list. The way to have your name passed on to next years’ intern? Be their best problem solver. Ask for as little as possible, solve as much as you can on your own, and smile!
Understanding your clients budget is an important part in securing the contract. Two different event planning companies contacted me for an NFL gig (talk about SEO working its magic)… The first company asked for a quote which I gave and did not hear back from her for like a week. Right after I followed up with her, another event planning company contacted me asking for a quote on the same event. At this point I followed my gut feeling and specifically asked what is her client’s budget. Once she gave me the budget, I worked to match it. Another incentive I include in the quote is, one free custom stencil (which costs me $4. For custom stencils look for Eric Stiles on Facebook), That freebie usually seals the deal
An important contingency to consider when securing sports contracts is payment terms. Many times events and promotions departments submit invoices for payment on a Net 30 basis. Are you prepared to pre pay artists until you receive full payment? Or are your painters OK with waiting up to 30 days to be paid for events? If you are being hired for family day or indidvual sporting events, the payment terms can be negotiated but in most cases for seasonal contracts their can be up to 30 days between billing periods.
Advice from Maddy Wayne:
Assuming that you are being hired for the season, plus at least a few pre-season games, don’t be offended when you finally learn what their budget is. A regular season of football will have an average of 10 homes games, so it is nice to know that when you are signed up, you are guaranteed 10+ gigs. Baseball is even better, but be fore-warned, it may be the only gig you are able to perform that day. Between parking and security check points, you are on location almost double the time you are performing, and that can suck up your time and energy to prevent other gigs that entire day.
During my time as a painter for the Miami Dolphins we were allowed to paint any and all fans. They were very flexible and gave us artistic freedom. 4 years later the new marketing team made a decision to restrict designs to Dolphin colors and dolphins fans. You have to be willing to be flexible and accommodate your clients without hesitation.
How to write and create the perfect “pitch” for sports teams:
Go the extra mile to look professional. Take good pictures, have all your paper work in order, and have your prices ready to go. Remember professional sports teams have larger budgets than most companies so if you want to charge more you need to show them why.
Make sure the colors are accurate. Nothing makes teams happier than team pride. If you can capture an awesome image with the perfect colors you will grab their eye and more than likely their business.
Do your research to find the name of the person in charge. Or at least a point of contact. When you address a business proposal to “Whom it May Concern” it shows lack of effort. It may take 2-5 times too find the right person’s info but once you do you can tailor your letter to them.
I recommend starting any business proposal with an enthusiastic compliment and idea.
Here’s a sample of a proposal I created while in College for my University’s Marketing Department (LOL)
As the president of the FSU Pride Fan Club I wanted to reach out to you about the exciting upcoming season. My name is Heather Banks and I am loyal FSU fan and professional face painter. My team of painters and I would love to make game days fun, festive, and all about FSU!
Attached are some game day faces and design ideas that we would offer to Seminole fans and encourage them to take part in supporting the team through visual art. Face painting is a great activity for the all ages and great for TV appearances.
I would love the opportunity to share more information with you about our services, pricing, and how we can paint game day a success!
I look forward to hearing from you and hope you are having a great day.
EVERY business has the potential to make money and grow beyond expectations. When we travel outside of our comfort zone we can embrace new opportunities. Adding large sports or corporate accounts to your bookings also adds a new level of responsibility. First ask yourself if you want your face and body art business to be your main business, if the answer is yes this blog will serve as a road map to help you increase your bottom line.
I hope you found this blog helpful and if you have any personal experiences or advice you would like to share send it over to firstname.lastname@example.org. Together we can build an amazing industry, where art pays our bills and gives us tremendous job satisfaction.
Happy painting friends xoxoxox Your Paint Pal – Heather