It’s Not All Sexy Times in the Face-Painting Biz

Tips and prices of some San Diego face-painters.

‘Face painting gets a bad rap,” said Megan Norgan of the Rosy Glow Paint Co. (858-633-ROSY; “People think it has that carny feel or that it’s cookie-cutter. But my aim is to show it from the artist’s perspective. I try to personalize the experience for whoever I’m painting. I look at the person’s face or body structure, and I try to be primal with it. I’ll see how the nose is shaped, figure out what would look good on that particular face. It’s very intuitive.”

Of course, if you’re after a theme, she can do that, too. “I can be really abstract or I can do identifiable features like Avatar or superheroes.” She does bodies as well as faces. “Body painting in particular has a lot of sex appeal. I’ve done several gigs where we were making live body art. I was down at Quality Social downtown; they have this really great wine cellar that is encased in glass. I was working behind the glass with a nude model — well, she had a bikini bottom — and I covered her with paint. When I was finished, she looked like a framed piece of living art. People got a kick out of that.”

It’s not all sexy times, though. Norgan has also painted the bellies of expectant mothers. “Women are totally enamored of their pregnancies, because babies are the ultimate culmination of so many different things for a woman. And some of them want to commemorate that with art.”

Norgan uses Wolf Brothers paints for her creations. “It’s water-based. The pigments dry very quickly, and they don’t smudge or smear once they’re dry unless you get them wet again. The colors are really bright and vivid. I also use metallic powders that are suspended in liquid. They’re like liquid gold or silver, and when you put them on, it really looks like your skin is made of gold or silver.”

Rates are $115 per hour for faces and $95 per hour for bodies. “If you’re having a party with ten or more people, it’s good to book me for two hours, depending on the designs you want. And it’s good to have the face-painter come later on in the party. Sometimes, if I’m there at the beginning, I’ll wait for half an hour before anyone comes over to me.”

Monica Noriega, owner of Dragonfly Boog Art (619-804-2533;, got started in body art at a convention. “I just fell in love with it. I used to do graphic design — car wraps and logo designs. I know that when I paint a body, it will be there for only a day and then get washed away, but to me, these pictures are forever. I don’t think of them as temporary.”

It’s a long way from logos and car wraps. “For this year’s Comic-Con, I [painted] a woman to look like Poison Ivy from Batman. Last year, I did Catwoman and Wonder Woman at Club Deco — they had the models there, and I painted them while people watched.”

Again, it’s not all sexy times. “I’ve also painted partygoers for a glo-night. And UCSD has an annual Spirit of the Masters event, where students pick out famous paintings by people like Picasso and create life-sized renderings. They’ll paint the background, and then I’ll paint the students as if they were part of the painting. And when people want custom body art done, I’ll consult with them, sketch some designs.”

At parties, “I can work with a theme or just do whatever comes to mind. If someone wanted a seahorse, I would look at their outfit, decide what would look nice with what they’re wearing, and maybe do something on their arm or leg. If someone wants something on their body, I’ll pay attention to them and to their surroundings.” Rates are $135 an hour for faces and $80 an hour for full-body art. Prices decrease after the initial hour.

Damaris Mawarixa of Face & Body Painting by Damaris (619-727-3445; has been painting bodies and faces for ten years. “I do kids and adults, and I’ll do parties and clubs. I can do full face paint or just images on the face. I like to use jewels and also metallic paint. Adults usually leave it up to me to design an accent for the face, but I’ll bring a catalog of my original designs for people to choose from. Or if they show me an image — say, on their phone — I can do that. And while most face painters can do 12 to 15 faces an hour, I can do 17 to 22.” Rates are $105 an hour, with a two-hour minimum for body art. “If I have to travel further than 20 miles from downtown, I’ll charge $20 extra.”

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