The Business of Body Painting

It took Davinci 4 years to complete the Mona Lisa, which is about 30 inches by 15 inches. An average body painting, which is more than double in size of the Mona Lisa, usually takes 3-5 hours. Body Painting is still relatively new in the US, and knowing what to charge is still a very grey area for most painters. I get a lot of calls about what to charge, what you can expect to charge, and what the artists is supposed to include in their fee.

In my professional opinion, body painting has yet to become a profitable business unless you charge a nominal fee, or you have an endless supply of free paint. I have a very dear friend who is a professional body painter in Costa Rica, and an extraordinary businessman.

Rodrigo Piedra has mastered the art of booking body painting, and he has learned how to price his work and seek out clientele that can afford it. His fee is high, his work is quality, and he doesn’t compromise on the price. When he plans a body painting he includes the design fees, costs of materials, pre and post production, his team, and professional results. Because his fees are higher than average, he does less volume than some artists body painting at nightclubs and festivals. His approach to body painting is realistic and should be considered if you want to enter the body painting industry.
Body Painting by Rodrigo Piedra

Cost Vs. Time:
It takes about 3 oz to cover a full body with airbrush make up and 3 oz of paint ranges from $15-$35 depending on the brand. If you add nipple and bottom covers, adhesive, gems, other embellishments, and time to paint the actual design you could easily spend over $100 in just materials. If it takes you 3 -4 hours to paint the model, then you would need to charge over $500 to just cover your materials and time. Not many companies or agents have the budget to pay over $500 per model.

There are other ways to offer affordable body painting. Our great friend Nix Herrera, who was just recently on the Syfy channel series Face Off, is an amazing body painter and is regularly booked at nightclubs, resorts, and private functions. He is comfortable with his designs, incorporates his airbrush for faster base work, and in many cases does not cover the entire body. This speeds up his work, and allows his the time to be more detailed on other areas. Nix has also built up a closet of paint that he can expense over several jobs. If you have to purchase specific paint per job, this is where the costly part comes into consideration.

Body Art by Nix Herrera

The best way to start gauging your body painting earning potential is to make a list of designs you are comfortable with offering, how long it takes you to create that design, and doing an inventory on your face and body art supplies. Then you can lay out a plan of what you are selling and the cost associated. Otherwise you will be spinning your wheels and stressing over spilled paint and empty pockets!

Take classes from the professionals themselves! Rodrigo Piedra and Nix Herrera are on Face and Body Art Television! Visit Rodrigo’s profile page or Nix’s profile page and learn body art from the professionals!

Chin Up | Syfy’s Face Off Premiere

Last night Season 2 of the SyFy show Face Off premiered. It was extremely awesome because two of our talented friends were featured. I have had the pleasure of working with Nix Herrera and Athena Zhe over the past 10 years, at the Face and Body Art International Convention and other industry events. I have witnessed Athena and Nix blossom into creative forces to be reckoned with. Kudos to both of them for having the courage to enter the competition, and to be open to criticism of their hard work.

Many of us avoid being judged by all means possible. We avoid the scale because of fear of seeing what we don’t want to see, we avoid posting pictures of our artwork out of fear that someone might say something we don’t like. Nix and Athena took that plunge and from that, we can all learn a lot.

Athena Zhe - Face Off ContestantNicholas 'Nix' Herrera - Face Off Contestant

If you are experiencing a slow month on bookings, pick up the phone and fight the fear of hearing no. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Call your local library and ask to speak to the activities director, offer discounted or free face painting so that you can pass out your business cards. Contact other painters in your area and organize a jam, make new friends and network with other outlets that might be able to bring you business. Join the chamber of commerce and get involved in the community.

All of these are great ways to drive in sales and get your name out there. You might hear a few no’s before a yes comes your way, but just as Athena and Nix bite their nails each challenge, they don’t give up. They push on with their chins up and know that giving up is not an option.


Catch new episodes of Face Off on the Syfy Network, Wednesdays at 10/9c.