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What a great week this has been so far!

We had several events on Tuesday (National Night Out)!  The experiences shared by my artists and me made me realize that there are some myths surrounding how face paint is applied.

So, here is a test.

Below you will see 4 photos of butterfly face painting, one of the most requested options. Your job is to put them in order by how long you think it took for each version to be painted. To help you identify them in their current order, we’ll label them 1. “cheek pink/blue butterfly”, 2. “full butterfly mask”, 3. “half butterfly mask” and 4. “arm blue butterfly”.

Ready, Set, Paint! How long does it take for GOOD Face Painting? 

1. A Touch of Magic Face Painting 2. Face Painting by A Touch of Magic Entertainment 3. Face Painter at A Touch of Magic Entertainment 4. A Touch of Magic Entertainment Face Paintiers

Here is the order from the fastest to the slowest:

#2 “full butterfly mask” (2 min 10 sec)

#3 “half butterfly mask” (2 min 28 sec)

#1 “cheek pink/blue butterfly” (2 min 30 sec)

#4 “arm blue butterfly” (3 min 10 sec)

How did you do? (We’d love to hear your initial responses in our comments, if you’re willing to share…)

Okay, here’s another commonly requested option… Spiderman!

Which version do you think takes the longest?

1. Spiderman Face Paint by A Touch of Magic Entertainment 2. Spidey Face Painting by A Touch of Magic Entertainment

By now, you’re probably guessing where I’m headed, so yes, the half-face Spidey (2 min 55 sec.) took less time than the smaller design on the arm (3 min 26 sec).

Here’s why I am writing about this today. It is really common for customers to say to me, “We have a lot of kids, so we only want small designs.” or “We don’t need much… just a little something on their arms or cheeks.” or “We don’t have much time, so we don’t want any big designs.”

In all cases, the event planners are trying to communicate that they want us to reach as many people as possible. The problem is that their solution of sticking to “small” designs is based on faulty thinking.

At our recent events, we had adults approach us to see if we could do smaller designs in order to reach more people. They hadn’t actually timed our work. They just saw the product and assumed that if there was that much makeup on the face, it must have taken a long time, and smaller versions would be faster. Here is why this assumption is incorrect, explained brilliantly by a fellow artist I know:

Have you ever taken on a home improvement project where you have to paint the rooms in your house?

Which room took the longest?  The living room with broad, open walls and plenty of space to move, where you could use a paint roller which was dipped once to cover a large area before dipping again? Or the kitchen, where you had to tape around the cabinets, the window sill and any other fixtures, and use smaller brushes and carefully work around the fine edges for the details?

Face Painting MythBuster

Consider the two Spiderman designs once again.

For the experienced, Professional Face Painter, painting all that red on the full face canvas with large brushes & sponges allows most of us to move quickly. If a child moves or flinches, we can easily recover, and our lines can be smooth & clean. Also, when a child reaches up to his face & smudges the design, it is fixed within seconds.

But for that little Spidey design, it’s a different story. The control and precision required for such a small design slow us down, because even the smallest movement can give Spiderman’s oval-shaped head a sharp right angle. (If you look closely at the photo, you’ll see where the outline is too thick, because he moved.)  Likewise, when that little boy reached over to touch the red, his finger print smeared the webbing. Thank goodness he didn’t touch the white! It’s hard to restore a white spidey-eye once it’s been contaminated with red. And I haven’t found any little boys who want their Spiderman to have Pink-eye! :o)

In terms of control and precision, the same is true for the butterflies. For me, painting something tiny on the cheek of a small child who is joyful and giggly (which I love), requires greater concentration and stillness than the bigger designs.

The half-mask butterfly (#3) and cheek pink/blue (#1) took roughly the same amount of time, and the full mask was faster than them both! But that’s probably not how you voted! If given a choice, most children want the bigger design! And, I’ll be honest… I love the oohs and ahhs of folks when they see the final product of the bigger designs… especially when it’s followed by, “I can’t believe how fast she did it!”

Yes, at your school carnival, when parents and 5th graders are volunteering to face paint for the very first time, it’s a good idea to have them stick to the simple and small designs.  But when you hire a professional, please trust that we are always giving you our best and fastest work, to stick within the coverage parameters that we’ve promised in our contract!  What takes a long time isn’t actually the artistry itself… it’s all of the variables out of our control.  (For more information on speed and proper coverage, check out my post on “Good, Fast & Cheap”.)  It might be worth it to note here that there are parents who approach us to “go faster” with other children, but when it’s their own child’s turn, they’d like us to take our time. :o)

Face Painting – Ready, Set, Paint!

It is true that we could just simplify designs in general. However, today’s kids are accustomed to GOOD face painting! Having us over-simplify our designs is like adding too much water to Kool-Aid to make it go farther. At a certain point no one will want it if it’s too diluted. Kid’s LOVE Face Painting! It is so popular, in fact, that at many events, kids start lining up the moment we arrive to set up! They know what they want, and they have become quite Face Painting savvy, thanks to the talented artists in the Twin Cities!

So… the next time you want FAST Face Painting, please remember that when it comes to speed, there’s more than meets the eye.