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Conversations with the Inspiring Jamie Janett

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jamie Janett.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I want people to understand that I’m not your typical makeup artist, or party entertainer, but something in between. What I do for a living is considered uncommon, yet there’s a tight knit community of them in almost every major city who do this.  When I first tell people what I do, they sometimes assume I’m a clown, or that I do it only a couple times per year…but neither is true. What do I do? I am a professional facepainter for the last 12 years. I get hired to facepaint adults and kids at fancy parties, do Day of the Dead makeup at street festivals, do facepainting at corporate store openings, bodypaint models for photoshoots, and everything in between.  The main materials I use are cake makeup, sponges and brushes.

I’ll tell you the story of how I accepted a job as a facepainter at Disneyland, which was the start of everything…

While in college, I was studying to be a children’s book illustrator. I was working as an assistant art teacher at the time, but I needed a new job where I could work more hours. I was searching on CraigsList, and I found an ad said: “Become a Disney Artist.” That was my dream job, so I sent them samples of my work, and they liked it. A few weeks later I  showed up to the interview at Disneyland with my portfolio in hand.

At the interview, a bunch of other artists was there with their portfolios, too. The interviewer explained that they were looking to hire Caricature Artists to work inside Disneyland. I was a little upset that ad had been so deceiving. I thought I was going to become a real Disney Artist, but instead I was going to be drawing people as cartoons. But it got worse. I took a few days to respond, and in that time, the position had already been filled. But they told me if I was open to it, there was an opening in another department… Face painting.

At first, I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Face painting.  Did they mean painting smiley faces and butterflies on kids’ faces using greasy clown paint? More importantly….had all my dreams of being an artist led up to working as a face painter at Disneyland? Surely, I was more ambitious! Being a face painter certainly wasn’t the type of “Disney Artist” I envisioned. Iit was even worse than caricatures! I started to reason with myself. I needed a new job like bad. And at least I would be holding a paintbrush rather than just teaching. Plus, I had experience working with kids. I kinda sorta started to see a glimpse of potential.

Soon came the highly anticipated first day on the job. It was Memorial Day, and I was scheduled for my very first facepainting shift. I had been given a few hours of training in the days prior, but nothing could prepare me for what was to come next. All uniformed up as a “Cast Member,” , I stepped into the theme park ready to find my station. It was PACKED, and at the facepaint station there were about 40 families in line for the kids to get painted. There was a menu off to the side that people were supposed to choose from (I could barely see it out of the corner of my eye). The other face painters were whipping designs out at record speed… about 3 minutes for a full face. They had surely painted these designs a million times before!  The manager threw me in immediately, and the first child asked for a princess crown. My hand shook and trembled. After 8 minutes of struggle, I showed her the mirror to see the final outcome. The parents and child looked like they were about to cry. And I wanted to cry even more than them.

For the next few days, I had a decision to make. Did I want to find a new job in Illustration or film, or stay at Disneyland and be a face painter maybe until the caricature position opened up? I kept re-living the first day which was really hard where I fought back tears with my sloppy facepainting. BUT… I was starting to  see improvement in my work. There was one other face painter, who took the time to help me. She assured me that I would get better and that everyone goes through the same experience for their first time. She saw a spark in me. Later, she would be the first person to send me out on a private birthday party, which led to many more.

Six months went by of face painting at Disneyland, I was promoted to the Supervisor position, helping to train new face painters. I really enjoyed working at Disney but I knew many face painters who did private parties and had a lot more freedom. So, I made a big leap by moving from Huntington Beach to Hollywood. I got a day job as a receptionist and worked on creating my new face painting business from scratch. I started advertising on Craigslist, and I had business cards printed. From there, parties slowly started to trickle in. I would get inquiries every day off Craigslist, which led to a few birthday party gigs on the weekends. I was making an extra $200-$400 a weekend, in addition to my day job. It was awesome. Not to mention at that time (2007), I was considered one of only a few known face painters in the LA area doing parties. Later that year, I built my first website, and soon after, corporate companies started calling.

I’ll never forget the first “big” corporate gig that I did. It was for the NBA “Allstar Jam.” They wanted 12 face painters to work for 12 hours straight to paint kids and families all day with pro basketball team logos. Luckily, I had my friends who worked alongside me at Disney, and I also reached out to other face painters in the area. It gave me the confidence to work with many more corporate companies and organizations over the next decade. Some of those companies were Target, MTV, Yogurtland, Hasbro, the LA Zoo, Hyundai, and celebrity clients. I’ll never forget when Beyonce was in attendance at one of those high profile events. Never did I think face painting would take me to so many unique places and events in L.A. and beyond.

In the summer of 2011, I had the opportunity to travel to Kyrgyzstan where I face painted kids in rural areas and organized the project “Painting Kyrgyzstan,” in collaboration with the Peace Corps with the help of generous donors from my Indiegogo campaign.

In 2012, I face painted local children in Piste Pueblo, Chichen Itza, Mexico during the celebration of the end of the Mayan calendar. I also participated in the Envision Festival in Costa Rica as the official children’s face-painter.

I’ve participated in Breast Cancer Awareness bodypainting, helped raise money for non-profits and communities, face painted kids on Skid Row, face painted at suicide prevention walks, and for low-income housing communities. I’ve been brought to tears at how much joy the art of facepainting has brought to kids and families. It often gave me a purpose. My feelings about facepainting came a looong way from the way I first felt about it when the job opened up at Disneyland.

Later facepainting inspired me to create other party services and business ventures, like the Bright People Photobooth, and DiscoEyes Glitter. In October 2018, I bought a vintage 1983 fiberglass camper to convert into a colorful Art Mobile for events and parties, so I could roll up to my gigs in style.

It’s been an adventure, to say the least, and I’m so happy that I stuck with it, even though it was challenging and hard at first. I never thought that something like facepainting would bring so much joy into my life and the lives of others.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has been very rewarding but it hasn’t always been a smooth road. It has taught me a lot about standing in my truth as an artist, and to see myself as an artist even when others didn’t. Some advice I have for young women is that if you are passionate about something, don’t let others get you down, even if you feel they are judging you. And most importantly, don’t judge yourself. Sometimes, society has an ingrained belief about an art form, activity, or project you feel passionate about. Keep doing what you do, to the best of your ability, and soon they will be inspired, and it will shift their perception. Even if they aren’t receptive, and can’t see beyond their limited beliefs, pay them no mind and keep moving on and do you.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Paint On Your Face story. Tell us more about the business.
Ok, so I explained about my business, Paint On Your Face, a little bit in the beginning, but I’ll go into it more here.

So when I started Paint On Your Face, I just did it because I needed another name to go by instead of “Art by Jamie” or something similar. I remember listing all the words I could think of on paper that reminded me of facepainting, and circling the ones that seemed to go together. I also recall going to Barnes and Nobles on a Friday night, and buying a book called “16 Weeks to Your Dream Business; A Weekly Planner for Entrepreneurial Women,” which I followed step by step. It was a really exciting time. The planning stages of creating a little business for myself was something I truly enjoyed.

I think part of the excitement of working in a service industry is networking and creating your tribe of artists. These are people who you can relate to, practice with, and share business with. A few years into Paint On Your Face, I was getting booked up on the weekends, so I decided to start reaching out to other artists who would represent my company and take on gigs when I wasn’t available. It led to meeting some great friends who I still work with today. We all share similar ideals in values and business, and have a high expectation in ourselves and in the artwork we execute at events.

It would be great to hear about any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve used and would recommend to others.
My favorite YouTube channels that I listen to on an almost daily basis are Ralph Smart Infinite Waters, Rissa Vibes, the Awakening YOU channel, DNA Activation, and Meditations by Rasa.

My favorite books on the Audible and Audiobooks apps are You Are the Placebo by Dr. Joe Dispenza, Change Your Thinking Change Your Life by Brian Tracy, Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins and Ask and it is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks.

Some programs apps that I use are Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, Wix for my website, Canva for design, Snapseed and Facetune for photo editing on my cell phone, and Facebook and Instagram to promote my business.

Pricing:

  • Facepainting for events is $250 for 2 hours
  • Bodypainting is $175+
  • Day of the Dead faces are $85+ for private appointments

Pricing:

  • Facepainting is $125 per hour
  • Blacklight Airbrush Tattoos are $150 per hour
  • The Bright People Photobooth starts at $150 per hour
  • DiscoEyes Glitter eco-friendly glitter is $5.95 for a 5 gram jar

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Lizzie Rose Media (beach photo), Sammy Trauben (skull photo)

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