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Going off the board

Bored with the board?  If I am working with another painter who has a board of designs, I secretly groan.  Having to paint the same few ideas all day bores me… even if I do change them up.   I love being asked for Dennis the Menace or a hedgehog!  And I don’t like refusing a child’s wishes – they have the imagination and I want to encourage it.

Free yourself from the board and unlock your creativity!

It may be a scary thought to leave the comfort zone of your board.  It’s so safe and manageable to stick to the same few designs and it’s possibly quicker (for now)

You may be thinking…

  • What would I do if they ask for a Transformer?
  • I don’t know how to paint a wildebeest…
  • What if they ask for an astronaut!


Step out of your comfort zone

If you are planning on painting for the long haul, and making this your business, then the benefits of being brave will repay you big time!   Sticking to a small repertoire can actually stifle your growth and limit your potential. Embracing a broader range of requests, even those that seem challenging, can be incredibly rewarding. So this is why stepping out of your comfort zone and accepting various design requests can elevate your face painting skills and experience.


Expand Your Skills and Creativity

When you challenge yourself with different designs, you naturally and gradually expand your artistic skills. Each new crazy request pushes you to think creatively and problem-solve on the spot. This continuous learning process enhances your techniques and broadens your understanding of different styles and patterns. Over time, you’ll notice huge improvements in your painting abilities, making you a more versatile and proficient face painter.



Boost your confidence

Taking on new and challenging designs can be intimidating, but each successful attempt boosts your confidence, and you will feel braver the next bizarre request you get!  The more you step outside your comfort zone, the more you’ll realize your potential and capability.


Increase your business appeal

When you expand your repertoire and show willing to paint anything, you will soon see how potential clients appreciate your versatility.  If I am looking for a face painter, I will search out those who have a broad range of designs, preferably with originality in their designs and those who are prepared to have a go at the more unusual requests.  If you ever want to paint within a team at a festival, you need to get off the board!  Build your reputation as a brave face painter who will go with pretty much any request.


Make their wishes come true!

I like to support, encourage and give approval to the wild child for being brave enough to ask for a wild cat rather than a tiger, or a Persian cat rather than a kitty, or Skater Man rather than Spiderman… just picture the smile and happiness of that child who now looks like her favourite cuddly toy or his favourite animal (a warthog?!)



How to Handle Difficult Requests

There will inevitably be times when a child asks for something really complex or unfamiliar. Here’s how to manage such situations:

  1. Stay Positive and Engaged: Always show enthusiasm and interest in the child’s request. This helps in building a connection and makes the child feel valued.  “Oooh a big fierce dragon breathing fire – won’t that be lovely!” Join in with their enthusiasm.
  2. Google it:  Search for the real thing first.  Assess how you could simplify it – pinpoint the essential features, what really matters to that child.  Big teeth, horns, fire – break it down in to shapes, squares, ovals etc.  Which are the main colours?  All this will become quicker the more you do it.  Have a go – they will be thrilled!
  3. Suggest Alternatives: If a design is beyond your current skill level or is truly complicated, suggest something similar that you’re confident in painting. For example, if a child requests a detailed dragon and you’re unsure, offer to paint a simpler, yet equally exciting, dragon or a fierce dinosaur.
  4. Practice Makes Progress: Use difficult requests as motivation to practice and improve. Spend time outside of your events to practice those designs that you may have refused.  Possibly it’s something that comes up fairly regularly – like Thomas the Tank Engine, or a Green Man.  You may not have one for another month, but it’ll be in your repertoire for next time.
  5. Communicate Transparently: If you need to decline a request, do so with kindness and transparency. Explain that while the specific design might be too complex right now, you’re excited to try something similar that you can do really well and that next time you see them you’ll do that design even better!


Limiting yourself to a handful of designs might seem like the safe route, but embracing a broader range of requests can be far more beneficial. Not only will you improve your skills and increase your confidence, but you’ll also become a more sought-after face painter. By taking on new challenges and expanding your repertoire, you’ll unlock your full potential and enjoy a more rewarding face painting journey. So, the next time a child asks for a unique design, say yes and watch your creativity soar.

Reporting to your peers that you painted a Penny Farthing for the first time will make you smile and reaffirm that you are in the right job!