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‘You want to be a … leprechaun???’

The most confident, unique, original and imaginative young lad sat in my chair recently. He wanted to be a leprechaun with a potion on his chest! Cauldron, flames and green bubbles – it was so refreshing to hear – and thankfully his Dad just stayed quietly smiling!

Face painters are used to unusual requests from children – but what do you do if you’re asked for something you’ve never even heard of?  Maybe the latest superhero or character in a cartoon – or maybe an unusual animal.  I understand there may be situations where time is of the essence, but…

1.  However you handle these requests, the most important thing to remember is – focus on the child in the chair – he/she/they is the No.1.  We need to maintain respect for that individual – give them the time to explain their wishes, acknowledge their dreams, don’t talk over them.  Most of all – listen!    Every child is a fresh new event – like an actor at each and every performance on the stage, however many months you have repeated the scene, the audience deserves your best performance!


2.  Children have amazing imaginations given half a chance and a few minutes to think. Let them run wild with their ideas, and whenever possible don’t squash their creativity by making them stick to your design board. (Better still don’t have a design board!) Open up your mind and go with it – you’ll have a lot more fun than if you churn out the same old butterfly or tiger.  This is how you will expand your repertoire, gig by gig.


3.  Children have their own likes and dislikes, just like grown-ups. So, before you start painting, chat with them a bit, ask about their favourite colours. (Try to avoid the parents’ suggestions!)  If they want to be a superhero, find out what their super-power is.  Where does the fairy live? What does the monster like to eat?  Involving them in the decision-making not only makes them happy but also shows them that their ideas count and that their voice is validated!


4.  If you’re asked for something you’ve never heard of, don’t panic! Google is your friend! Do a quick search (not for a face paint version, but the actual thing) and keep chatting to the child while you work out how to turn that cartoon character or animal into an unusual and brilliant face paint design.  If you feel pressured, then suggest they step to the side and do their own search while you do the next quick tiger.  Then have a look and see if it is possible – it nearly always is!  The more you try to do new things the better you get at finding the ‘essence’ of the character/object.


Always remember – you might have painted 25 children already today, but for the child in the chair, this is their one experience of face painting today – so make it one they’ll remember for all the right reasons!