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Tipping in Australia | Face Painting Blog

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Tipping in Australia : A Lesson

Many years ago I accepted many face painting jobs from lots of clients. One client hired me often at the shopping centre she managed. We got along well and she gave me a decent amount of work. She then moved to another shopping centre and asked me to come face paint for her there. I was thrilled! I gave her my normal quote, and looked forward to the day. Its important to know I was being paid to be there and the face painting was free for the public. 


A few days before the event I lost myself reading through various face painting forums and facebook groups. These were worldwide groups that consisted of members from all over the world, especially USA. Many members spoke about getting extra tips when they were booked for jobs. A questioned asked over and over again was 'How do I get tips too?'


Now in my face painting career, it wasn't unusual to receive tips on a booking. It doesn't happen that often, but every now and then a customer will offer me a few gold coins for painting something amazing or sometimes a hot/cold drink. A private client like a birthday party might pay me extra because I stayed later than expected or perhaps neither of us have change! On public bookings, customers have slipped me something as a thankyou. I always refuse but then give in. 

The advice given on these forums was to not only accept tips, but go after them! Do your job the absolute best you can and then make it clear you are accepting tips. This could be a tip jar, a sign or even just explaining you are happy to take tips. I thought this sounded great. I charged for my time at events but I wasn't excessive in price. I wouldn't turn down a few extra gold coins for a coffee. And it seemed that the public wanted to way to say thankyou. Who am I to say no? 

So i created a very simple sign. It said Tips are graciously accepted but not expected. I thought that was a lovely message that I would be fine if someone wanted to tip me, but I also wasn't pressuring. Well the day came and I set up my beautiful face painting kit. I set up my table and chair, and my tips accepted sign. Within minutes I had a little girl to face paint. I painted an amazing fairy using all Diamond FX professional face paints. When I finished, the little girl looked in the mirror and her whole face lit up with a huge smile. Her mother thanked me and offered me a few gold coins. My sign was working. 


Now this was new to me. So I did my polite act of thanking her and refused. She played back and insisted so I took the gold coins and popped them in my kit. From then on, most people offered me a few gold coins. I had enough to not just buy my cup of coffee, but my entire lunch. 


About an hour into my shift, the client came to check on me. She saw my tips accepted sign and questioned me. "Aren't we paying you to be here?" She asked. I explained she was but some customers like to say thankyou. I could tell she was not happy. I had made a very grave error. 


A few minutes later, she ripped down my sign and replaced it with a crudely designed print out of FREE FACE PAINTING. It was very clear she not only found my sign offensive but the idea I would request tips to be outright rude. 


At the time I found this to be over the top. Why should it matter if customers wanted to reward me? It didnt make any difference to her, and it showed customers were very happy with my work. Surely this is a win-win. Well I was never hired by that client again. '


I had made the very big error of forgetting the culture in Australia compared to other places in the world. In the forum I read, the members encouraging to go after tips are American where tipping is a normal part of their lives. We are lucky in Australia to be paid great wages compared to other parts of the world. 


A few months ago I was at a cafe and was presented with the eftpos machine to pay. There was very clearly an option to tip for service. How rude, I thought! They are being paid for their job already. That honestly feels money-grabbing. And suddenly I knew exactly how my client felt all those years ago. I was hired for set rate, and my little sign would have been perceived as very ungrateful. I also didn't ask her in advance, which probably would have saved a lot of problems. 


So learn from my mistake and remember that advice given is always country appropriate! 


- Anonymous


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