Wow!  So hopefully you now have your perfect festival coming up. ( If you’re interested in getting a festival, please refer to this blog post. )  Now what are you supposed to do?!  Do you just buy a bunch of stuff?  Do you show up and hope for the best?  Do you take a table and chairs and maybe an umbrella and call it a day?

Don’t fret my darlings!  We are going to figure this out together.  Mama Bird is here, and I am going to tell you everything that you need to think about when it comes to gathering your stuff for a festival!

So!  There are a few things that you probably need to have for festival work.

1.  A tent! 

Unless your festival is inside, you’ll need some kind of shelter from the elements.  There are lots of tents available on the market, but the one that I recommend (from experience) is the EZ Up brand tent.  It’s 10 foot by 10 foot, and has a white canopy(this is super important, more on that in a bit.)  It comes with side walls(perfect for blocking people, sun, bugs, and light breezes,) and simple tie downs.  It’s easy to set up with two people(though it is possible with 1, it just requires some muscle) and won’t break the bank.

Now, why is a white canopy important?  Let me explain this with a story… The first fest I did, I borrowed a tent.  I was 18 and broke, and I was thankful for the help.  HOWEVER, the canopy was pink (which was cute) and when the sun shined in, it made the colors of my paints look different!  My greens looked brown, my reds and pinks all looked the same… To say the least it was a total pain.  I bought my own tent eventually and made sure it was white.  Also, it’s important to note that some fancier fairs require tents to be white, and some specialty fairs(think renaissance) require them to look hand built.  You’ll have to pick the tent that best suits your needs.

2. Tent Security!

You’va got a tent, great!  Now let’s get the other tent things you’ll need.  The tie downs that came with your tent are probably thin rope and a long nail.  Those are practically useless in wind.  You’ll want something much more substantial.  Buckets of sand/water are good, PVC filled with concrete, intimidatingly large metal stakes and straps that can ratchet down are good….  The point is that you want something that SECURES your tent to the ground.  Before I learned this, I had a tent fly away(took the crappy stakes with it) and busted in half in the process…  What a waste!  I also had a tent blow away at night in between festival days(super fun to show up to on a Saturday morning!! )  Check out these pics of tent ties:

3.  Light!

If your event is indoors, I would recommend trying to find out before hand if it’s dark in your booth area, sometimes you’ll need lights and sometimes you won’t, but it’s better to be over prepared right?

If your event is outside and goes on past sunset(a lot of fests do) then you’ll need some lighting!  Good lighting could be ropes lights that you wrap around the tent frame, LED lamps that you hang up, or just good old fashioned clamp lights and bulbs.  I use clamp lights because I can put them where I want and point them in the direction that I like.  I also like to point one directly at the canopy, because the light hits the white roof(see, the white roof is handy!) and disperses the light all around.  The best places to find lights are at the hardware store and the internet.. I found all of mine at Home Depot(because it’s 5 minutes from my house…)  Just remember, if you get lighting you will also need a power source, so get extension cords, power strips, batteries, etc.  Remember to check the color of the lights!  You don’t want a weird color that will make your paints look off.
Some fests will charge for access to power, so keep that in mind when adding up your costs.

Good lighting examples: 

4. Tent Signage! 

Good signage is super important!!!!  People need to be able to find you, they need to be able to look around and go “there’s the face painter!”  I recommend putting a sign in front and high up on your tent if possible.  It would look like this:

In fact, you can buy that actual sign from The Art Factory!

It’s also a good idea to get signs for the side of the tent as well, so that people can see you from any side.
To make the sign holder frame, I just bought conduit pipes and made a frame to fit my tent.  The pipes are nice because they fit together like tinker toys and can be cut by hand with a conduit cutter.

5. Choice Signage!

Typically, having actual photographs of faces for your choice board will bring in better business than just words or drawings.  The absolute easiest ways to do this are to:

  •  Buy Face Cards, pick the designs you want and stick them on the board( I recommend the Festival Faces set, the Park Favorites set, Mystical Girls set, and the All Boys set.)  If your fest is outside, it’s best to laminate your Face Cards so that they won’t be affected by the weather.
  • OR- Take the NICE pictures from your phone that you have painted(make sure they are well lit, show the face, and are all about the same size of face in the pic) and get them printed.  I would have them printed at least post card size, or bigger.  Then laminate them to make them stiff and use those on your board.  You can even use a free pic editing app to add the name of the design to the pic before having it printed.  I use the Walgreen’s app on my phone to upload them directly to Walgreen’s and then pick them up an hour later, ready to go.
Here is what an all Face Cards board looks like… I KNOW IT’S AWESOME!

Pic courtesy of Lacey Bailey of Daydreamer Body Art, Kansas

 Choice boards should also show VERY CLEARLY how much a design costs.  I use a color system like Lacey(see above photo) where I have a color with a price and then a colored dot on the picture to show what price category it falls into.

6. Work Area!

Okay, we have our tent, lights, signs, and now we need… pretty much the most important stuff.  This will include tables, chairs, paint kit, and tablecloths.  Bring everything that you would normally need for a gig, and make sure it’s heavy enough/secure enough that it won’t blow away in the wind.  I don’t think that I can really explain this section too much, just bring what you will need to be able to paint the designs on your board.

7. Tent Accessories!

These are the fun things, like flags, decorations, rugs, etc.  I like to bring a polka dot rug(from Ikea) and put a foam mat under it so that it’s super comfy to stand on all day.  Feel free to personalize your booth however you want, but just remember wind and weight.  Wind because it shouldn’t be able to blow away, and weight because you have to carry it out and there and carry it home.

8. Everything Else!  

Yes, believe it or not there is still more to bring(it’s never ending….)

YES, and this stuff is SUPER IMPORTANT so pay attention!!!!


  • cash box
  • credit card reader
  • cash
  • zip ties
  • something to cut zip ties(I like wire cutters)
  • a pen
  • paper
  • a marker
  • tape
  • bungee cords
  • a wagon or dolly cart to move everything with
  • a hammer
  • some rope
  • scissors
  • sun lotion(if outside)
  • bug spray(if outside)
  • antacids/ibuprofen
  • food to snack on
  • water to drink and use 
  • a broom(to sweep the booth clean and to push water off of the canopy in case it rains)
  • a step ladder(if you’re short like me)
  • phone charger
  • sunglasses
  • night glasses(if you’re blind like me)
  • paper towels
  • trash bags
  • tip jar(make it noticeable!!!)
  • festival paperwork
  • business cards
  • tickets(for keeping track of your face numbers.)
  • anything else you can think of that I can’t remember right now!!!  Believe me, you want to be over prepared, always.  It SUCKS to get to an event and not have [insert item here.]

Well peeps, that’s your packing list!  Aren’t you glad I did that for you?  Now print it, link it, save it, share it!

  Did I miss anything?  Let me know if the comments!

Next post: Setting up your booth for Success!