How Do You Get That Gig?

Tom Cruise & Children Face PaintedWhen I browse the pages of celebrity tabloids occasionally I run across face painting on famous children. I am always amazed how there is rarely ever a picture of the artist, as I’m also curious to know who the lucky painter was. I have been fortunate enough to paint for several celebrities and it certainly has helped me get more business, but when I tell people that I have painted for Lebron James and Dan Marino, they always ask, “How did you get that gig?”.

When investing your money, an advisor will tell you it’s all about diversification. The same principles apply to business and getting bigger gigs. Typically, very wealthy clients or celebrity clients do not plan their own parties. They have assistants that hire event planners. So, when you are marketing your business, it’s equally important to seek out exclusive event planners and do some networking. High end event planners want to know you are professional, respect the privacy of the client, and use etiquette when working high end events.

How do I let the event planners know I’m a good candidate and how do I meet high end event planners?

One of the best ways to meet event planners is by attending or searching event planning networking events. ISES,the International Special Events Society, hosts several events across the US and the organization is made up of party planners, advertising companies, and event planners. Searching their events and offering your services to their meeting planners is a good way to exhibit your skills and make excellent contacts. Biz Bash is another special events show that happens around the country and they cater to larger budget event planners as well. Five years ago I volunteered to body paint at the special events show. I was able to network with several event planners that now use us religiously for special events, concerts, sporting events, and jobs I would have never had access to. I was able to show that I was professional, courteous, and explained to each planner the benefits of working together. Most planners want one less headache to deal with, and if you can be a no hassle addition to their services they are happy!

Face Painting with the NFLAnother way to diversify, is to reach out to the cities. If you are incorporated and carry insurance you can register with your local city to be able to bid for city jobs. I registered with the City of Miami as a business that offers event planning, face painting, balloons, and decor. Part of the process of hiring for city events, includes going through the procurement process. Procurement involves sending out a bid for the event and the city is required to accept a certain amount of proposals. If you submit a proposal and get the contract you are officially in with the city, and lots of business can be produced from it. City contracts are usually for multiple events, which also works in your favor.

Check out your local government or city website and find out how to become Small Business certified and see how you can get in on the procurement action.

My last advice tip to get the aww inspiring gigs is to contact larger and local event planning companies. Typically, they get hired to do large scale events because they can be full service companies. They also carry large amounts of insurance so they are an easy hire for bigger events. I frequently work with All Star Events located in South Florida. They are a full service event planning company that has done events for the Miami Dolphins, Miami Heat, Florida Panthers, Julio Iglesias, many of the Heat and Dolphin players and several other high profile clients. They love working with me because they know I won’t take pictures or embarrass them, so when they book a package they like to include my services. Chances are those clients would never go looking for just a face painter. They have so many other factors to consider, they look for a company that can do it all. Getting in good with the “Do it all” companies is a great way to create steady work.

Keegan Hitchcock for DASH

I’m all about promoting my fellow painters, I get so excited to see them grow and accomplish great things. The Dash body painting was done by my great friend Keegan Hitchcock. When I asked her about it she was so non-chalant and didn’t even seem nervous. Below are a few more images of Keegan’s work. You can find her on facebook at KeeganBodyArt.

Belvedere Body Art by KeeganJameson Body Painting by Keegan

A similar experience happened with another great artist, friend of mine, and FABAtv instructor Heather Aguilera. She got a call on her way home from shooting her FABAtv classes, and was asked to paint the famous sculptor and pop artist, Romero Britto.

Share your stories with us on how you got the gig, and if you have any pictures you can share, please do!

Happy Painting!


Contracts, Cancellations, and Common Courtesy

The birthday and event business is consistently inconsistent. No matter what day of the year it is, someone will always be celebrating a birthday, a company will always be hosting an event, and our services will always be in demand. The inconsistent part is that; children will always get sick, people will always stay on the hunt for the best price, and the weather doesn’t always cooperate.

How do you handle the bustle and boom?
awesome business

Whenever someone calls to book me, I have my agent write up a contract once they agree to the price and time. We then email them a contract and require a deposit that holds their spot and balance due on day of event. The deposit is refundable if the gig is cancelled 1 week prior to event. Having this contract and deposit in order, is a safety net for me so I don’t miss possible gigs and guarantees me at least the deposit in the event someone cancels.
Cancellations stink, but they are part of life and making the customer feel bad is unprofessional and will almost certainly cost you more business. When a customer calls to cancel, I try to start off by creating and suggesting a positive outcome.

Scenario 1:
Me: I’m sorry to hear that Holly isn’t feeling well, I hope she feels better so that we can make her birthday bigger and better soon.
Birthday mom: I don’t know when I will be able to reschedule, there is so much going on and I have to call everyone to cancel the party…
Me: It’s OK, I am here to make things easy, may I suggest a class party at Holly’s school or I can look at my schedule and see if next weekend is open if you want to reschedule. Don’t worry about me today, just worry about making Holly feel better and call me if any plans change.
When you set the tone of the conversation, you can almost always diffuse and salvage the event. If someone is calling to negotiate price and dangle a cancellation because they found someone cheaper here is another scenario to help you keep calm and not slap them through the phone.

Scenario 2
Client: I spoke to Jingles and she only charges $35 per hour so why do you charge $125 per hour.

Me: An educated consumer is the best client. I am sorry that I do not know Jingles. I can tell you that my prices are set because I pride myself on being professional and giving the best experience to guests at your party. I am on time, I carry insurance, I ONLY use kid friendly paints, and I am a great face painter. If price is a major factor in booking this event, I understand. I would love the opportunity to show you how having me at your party is well worth my fee.

Client: Well can you give me a little break?

Me: What I can do is include an extra half hour at no charge, or I can include glitter tattoos. (Only offer this if you are comfortable with and can afford to extend these offerings)

As a rule of thumb, I don’t rely on basic common courtesy in business. Steve Jobs’s biography pretty much confirmed my rule of thumb. Everyone they interviewed said Steve Jobs was crude, narcissistic, and would step over you if you were lying on the side of the street. Common courtesy is a dying form, because business is about you. So, don’t rely on your customers to think of you first or to consider your schedule when they are going through something. I always call a day before the event, to confirm any details and ensure I am still on. I don’t wait for the customer to call me in panic mode day of, if something happens to arise. As a birthday mom myself, the last thing on your mind is calling the entertainer especially if something chaotic is going on.
Protect yourself, your business, and have peace of mind when booking events. Send a contract, don’t fight over price or cancellations, and plan ahead. Be proactive and call the customer, ask if there is anything you can do to make the event the best it can be. Business isn’t easy, but planning and putting procedures into place will improve the outcome.

Happy Painting! -Silly Heather