Face painting artists are often hired for all types of parties and celebrations, from weddings to birthday events, to the launch of a new company or product. These parties will often have their own theme, set out beforehand and reflected in the decorations, dress code, menu and yes, in the face painting. So, as an artist, it’s good to have a general familiarity with some popular themes as well as keeping a few secret weapons up your sleeve for when you’re given creative free rein. Here we lay out some of the best loved themes for events in the 2020s that might help you in perfecting your own face painting practice or spark ideas for taking your creativity further.
Pick a Retro Decade
A big trend at the moment is taking fashion elements from decades like the 70s or 90s and then updating them for the present day. For example, a 70s party might see everyone wearing big hair, bell bottom jeans, psychedelic patterns and platform boots. Alternatively, a 90s event could include a lot of oversized plaid and denim, bucket hats, sports labels, chunky trainers and crop tops. So – how do you reflect these well-defined decades in your face painting? For some classic 70s patterns, look to the bold rainbow coloured stripes and squiggles of the graphic design prints from that period; these can easily be transferred to a face, incorporating the natural curves and planes of nose, cheek and mouth. For a more 90s or Y2K type style, you can incorporate recognisable sports branding, football team colours, or go for the brightly coloured, widely spaced geometric designs often found on fabrics and upholstery during that period.
Casino or Las Vegas Glam
Another popular trend that is continuing to take the world by storm is the glitz of the casino, whether in the kitsch Las Vegas tradition or the glamourous Riviera style. Casino nights are a successful party theme for all sorts of events, and the world of casinos, table games and slots is rich inspiration for the facepainting artist. To get an idea of shape and colour, look to famous interiors, like those of the Casino de Monte Carlo or the MGM Grand. But don’t forget that the most influential shake-up of this world in the 21st century has been the move to online casino sites. Enthusiasts can access their favourite games through PokerStars Casino, which have replicated all the glitter of the traditional brick-and-mortar casino floor for their online users. It’s a good idea to perfect the shapes of the four card suits – hearts, spades, clubs and diamonds – as well as patterns like the black and red roulette wheel, or the flashing lights of the slots.
Carnevale Style or a Masked Ball
Whilst Carnival is celebrated all over the world, it looks different in different countries and even varies amongst different cities. In Venice, Carnevale has its own unique style, exemplified by Venetian masks, gowns and headwear. Said to have started in the 12th century, the Carnevale di Venezia has become a globally recognised phenomenon which millions of people travel thousands of miles to experience every year. The classic styles of some of the masks – such as the blank bauta, the elaborate columbina, and the famous volto – can easily be transferred over to the human face via facepainting. Elements to incorporate include a completely blank face, either using the porcelain white of the bauta or the deep black of the moretta, or incredibly detailed designs like the gilded feather patterns of the volto. However, there’s no need to stick to the rigidly traditional motifs; feel free to experiment and get creative with colours, designs and decoration.
As we saw in 2018 with the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and again in 2020 with Netflix’s hit show, Bridgerton, the world is still interested in royal style from every era. This can be both real or imagined, it doesn’t matter, but people love to delight at the extravagance of monarchs and aristocrats. Therefore, it is a good idea to have a few regal designs at hand when attending an event, as they will usually go down well with everyone. Whether you draw from the 17th century pomp and luxury of Louis XIV or the slightly spooky muted style of Queen Victoria, there is so much scope to play with and get creative. After all, everybody likes to feel as though they are king or queen for the day, and even just a touch of golden glitter, or the positioning of a well-placed ‘beauty spot’ can add to the overall effect. If you have the opportunity to really go to town with your craft, then you could include exotic feathers, highly stylised rouge on cheeks and lips, and even the application of fake jewels to complete the look.