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Real Story about a face painting gig - That Time I Forgot My Brushes

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I opened my face painting kit and there was a empty spot where my brushes should sit.

My brushes.

My perfectly clean brushes.

Still. At. Home

Real Story about a face painting gig. 

When I first started in entertainment many many years ago, I worked a lot of birthday parties. There are so many parties that wanted entertainment and I was happy to fill that need. One party in particular stands out in my memory.


This client was very forceful from the start. She probably found my details online somewhere and wanted characters, face painting, balloons, magic, and anything else she could possibly have for the lowest possible cost. This was all for her sons first birthday. I have never quite understood the premise behind such huge parties when kids are too young to remember. These parties are absolutely about the parents more than the kids! I worked out a deal for this client for two entertainers who would dress in character. One would face paint, one would make simple balloons, and then we would run a simple karaoke session. I also threw in some fairy floss as I just bought a fairy floss machine and wanted to try it out!5 Ways to Deal With Misbehaving Kids at a Kid's Party - Kids Party Ideas


Soon the warning signs began. The client then began calling me daily, sometimes multiple times a day, to confirm details that were already confirmed. She would call to check the exact colour of the costume I would wear so it didn't clash in photos. She would call to have her husband/sister/neighbor to talk to me as well to make sure they were happy. She even called to request me to find a costume for her one year old son to wear. I began to dread her phone calls and we hadn't even got to the party yet!


In preparation I cleaned all my equipment perfectly, and ensured I had all materials ready to go. I cleaned all my brushes and sponges and left them drying overnight. On the day, myself and the other entertainer drove to the other side of the city dressed in our costumes. When we arrived at her home, the client met us out the front and apologised for being so pedantic. I gave her a big hug as I could see how much she wanted this party to be perfect. Walking into the backyard, we witnessed the biggest display of going all out possible. Decorations could have been at home at a 5 star hotel. Different types of music blasted from a professional set up DJ. And the food spread! Three giant animals of some sort on spit roasts as well as tables and tables of catered salads and sides. Her beautiful one year one son was in a tuxedo, which was actually adorable, but shows how overboard this party was.

5 Ways to Deal With Misbehaving Kids at a Kid's Party - Kids Party IdeasWe greeted all the kids with our big entertainers smiles, and got to work setting up equipment. This was when I had the biggest shock possible.

I opened my face painting kit and there was a empty spot where my brushes should sit.

My brushes.

My perfectly clean brushes.

Still. At. Home

I had nothing I could use. I didn't have cue tips or back up brushes, or literally anything I could somehow fashion into a brush. I frantically googled the nearest spotlight and it was 5min down the road. I let my fellow entertainer know the situation, and asked her to begin making balloons. I quickly and quietly ducked out to the car, rushed in spotlight in my clown costume, grabbed some rather overpriced brushes, and speed back to the party. I was lucky, it seemed none of the kids had noticed and they were happily waiting for their balloons. So I set up my face paints and began painting. Soon I had a line of kids getting transformed into butterflies and tigers.

Here is where the party got difficult. I was only about halfway through face painting, when the client decided it was time for karaoke to start. She told me to stop painting and run the karaoke with the other entertainer. I used my best kids entertainer voice to explain I would just finish painting so no children missed out. "No!". She screamed. "They want karaoke NOW!". The kids quietly waiting in line looked baffled as they had no idea what was happening. I could clearly see there was no use arguing, and I packed up my face painting equipment enough that it wouldn't be touched. I helped gather the kids into another room for karaoke. The kids sung on our microphones and generally had a great time, except for the kids not face painted yet. "Excuse me clown, but can I have my face painted?" Eventually the kids naturally moved on from karaoke and drifted around the house until only a few kids remained in the karaoke room. It felt very disorganised.


We were towards the end of the time we were hired for, and thanks to this client, I still hadn't finished painting all the kids. So I quickly set back up my kit again, and had to go find all the kids. Again. Rather than the nice line I had, kids were all over the place and I had to constantly get up from my face painting area to go find the next child. Understandably, they were confused, and this manner was very time consuming. Around this point the client decided to serve cake. Now I like the cake time to be the time I spend packing up while kids are distracted. No such luck here, and this lady ordered me to 'KEEP PAINTING' as the kids are gathered round the table singing Happy Birthday. Completely shocked, I walked back and forth with my paints trying to paint faces as they shoved cake in their mouths.


5 Ways to Deal With Misbehaving Kids at a Kid's Party - Kids Party Ideas

I had finally finished painting, and the karaoke was all packed up. I remembered my freebie, and I warmed up my new fairy floss machine and whipped a large platter of fairy floss for anyone who wanted it. Which was no one.


Overtime by a lot, and a very stressful and disorganised party, we were finally done. I found the client and let her know were were finished. She gathered myself, the other entertainer and another party guest in a bedroom. I was confused but assumed she was uncomfortable handing out cash in front of her guest. Nope, I was wrong. She was VERY unhappy with the way the party had gone. She wanted to not pay us, or at least a massive discount. Her reasons? I wasn't quick enough face painting the line of kids, and had to go back and finish it later. She also stated that my designs were too detailed which slowed me down. Now, I'm a very quick painter and I was painting very basic split cake designs simply to get through all the kids. Explaining split cakes look more detailed than they are wasn't exactly a discussion worth having! Furthermore there wasn't enough free fairy floss that she wasn't charged for. That no one wanted.

Not to mention, and I quote, "there was 15 min that I wasn't on her property." This was the 15 min I took to go buy the brushes I needed. Now, we both worked 30 min overtime, but that's rarely the point!

I stood my ground. It was an hour drive there, the party was exhausting, and she had been a nightmare to deal with. After some minor arguments, she THREW the cash in my face. My fellow entertainer counted it, we thanked her and left.

It was the worst party I ever worked.


Now that I am years and years later in the game, I do things very differently.

I could say I would double check I had all my materials including brushes, but we are all human and sometimes make mistakes. How I would handle it now is communication. I would let my agent/whoever booked me know. As an agent myself now, we need to know. You are not going to get in trouble for admitting a mistake, but it means we have a heads up for a potential issue and can handle it ahead of time. With this party, I was hired directly so I had no agent to tell. In that circumstance, I would have let the client know in a very calm way that I needed some more materials and that my fellow entertainer would make balloon animals first. I would also reassure her that I would make up any time missed, the kids would not be the wiser. Now, most reasonable clients would understand that and wouldn't have any concerns. This client however was going to find something wrong no matter what we did. She was so stressed, she was always going to complain. To reduce this happening now, I would ensure everything is written in a well worded contract explaining what I would be doing on the day, and in what order.


I am also better at picking up warning signs from the first phone call, and can decline worrisome bookings. Warning signs like repeatedly calling, making continuous demands, and pushing price down are all signs to look out for. With events and parties offering multiple entertainment skills, I give a written timetable to stick to. Now granted, I was following a timetable on the day of face painting and balloons first, finishing with karaoke. However the timetable was decided between the entertainer and I, and was only verbally communicated to the client. It wasn't written down in a contract and given to the client. So when she panicked from wanting to do karaoke before I had finished face painting, I could have calmly handed her the written timetable and reassured her we still have plenty of time to finish activities before moving onto a different one.

Ultimately, this was a nightmare event but absolutely something to learn from. Want to hear more face painting stories? Tell us in the comments below!



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