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Old 06-30-11, 08:16 PM   #1
Irina
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Question Question to balloon twisters/face-painters/caricaturists and other "festival artists"

Hi, I am a professional face-painter, working mostly as street artist/party artist and festival vendor, but occasionally I get into BuskerFests, which let me in for 'mutually free" , but I only can work for tips...I am not really used to that, IMHO festival organisers have to pay me basic salary if they expect me to work for tips, but if I have nothing better on that weekend - I take these gigs too. I need some advice on how to let customers know that I will do large designs only if I get certain minimum in tips? (We are talking about situations where I can't post "suggested donation 5-20$" sign.) English is my second language, and I really need a good phrazing which will not annoy festival organisers, but save me from spending 5 minutes and expensive make-up and cosmetic grade glitter on a customer who will just give me some change or nothing. (When I "street perform on public property" without Big Brother watching, I just tell people how much it is - or negitiate, but I already got thrown out of Taste Of Chicago, so I am getting really causious about not annoying the management...Thanks for your suggestions!
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Old 06-30-11, 10:11 PM   #2
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I never used to give balloons away for tips.

people are used to buying tangible objects. just let them know how much the balloons cost, so everything is straight up. people like that. tell them what you can make, and for how much.
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Old 07-01-11, 05:54 AM   #3
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As you sit the kid down to get painted -

"Most people tip about X dollars, up to Y dollars, depending on how complicated the design is - are you looking for something quick and simple or would you like me to get fancy?"
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Old 07-25-11, 01:27 AM   #4
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For a festival I'd say post a very specific sign. If you're working the streets I'd suggest telling the customer that you are working only for tips.

In San Francisco (like a lot of places) if your skill becomes a product (such as balloon art, a sketch, etc) you can't put a price on it or even suggest a tip amount because that puts you into the street artist category. In SF there is a long waiting list for street artist spots, and there is also the matter of collecting state sales tax.

But for the festivals I'd say you need to be very specific about pricing. Personally, I don't work any venue (except the street) unless I get a stipend, and that includes farmers' markets.
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Old 07-25-11, 01:33 AM   #5
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By the way, festival organizers have GOT to learn that they can't just put on a festival and expect people to work long hours just for tips. You were thrown out of a festival for pricing your work. I feel that they did you a favor. They should be paying you a stipend of some sort. I won't work any venue without a stipend of at least $50, and preferably $75.

For me the streets are different. In a venue, I'm expected to be there X number of hours continuously. On the street I come and go as I please, or move around or do whatever suits my needs. That's a big difference.
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Old 08-12-11, 09:03 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Isabella View Post
As you sit the kid down to get painted -

"Most people tip about X dollars, up to Y dollars, depending on how complicated the design is - are you looking for something quick and simple or would you like me to get fancy?"
Wow...That is just a brilliant line. Simple yet effective.

To the OP- When I twist balloons for tips I never set a specific price. Yep, sometimes I get stiffed but it is almost always made up by someone else who overtipped (If there is such a thing as overtipping!). I know that on average I will make a certain amount per balloon and it is fairly consistent. Honestly I don't worry about it that much as I am quick and balloons are cheap.

My partner Sylver on the other hand- She does spray paint art. More materials, expenses and time. If we take that out the same way I do balloons it is a struggle to break even. I think that a line like Isabella's could really make a difference! We will be trying it very soon!

Gwyd
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Old 08-12-11, 09:45 AM   #7
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Thank you, guys! I also agree with David that festivals should pay a daily stipend, if they expect you to work for tips! (and housing and transportation if the festival is not in your home town) It is tricky with face-painters, because we are in the grey zone between entertainers and vendors, but if I work without price-list - that's clearly puts me into entertainers category, and I prefer festivals which treat me as a hired entertainer or street performer...I have different displays - some with full faces and some with simple arm/cheek designs, and I tell parents that they can pay whatever they wish for small stuff, but for the whole face I expect 5-10$ donation. When I work in Canada or Europe - I just say "paper money" as they have coins for 1 and 2 canadian dollars and euros. The most popular tip in Canada is 2 dollar coin, I end up with the bag of those, but stores and bars want them, so I can usually exchange it for paper...
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