Remember when you were a kid and went to a carnival or a school fair and there was a face-painting station? You looked at all the pictures and finally settled on the piece that you thought was the best. Well, if you sit down anywhere in the Joplin area to get a face-painting, you might run into Tabatha Carter, owner of Cheeky Fun Joplin. Tabatha has been running Cheeky Fun Joplin as a side career for 7 years with Jamie Kelly, a painter with Cheeky Fun, by her side for 3 years. 

Where might you find Cheeky Fun painting cheeks? “We paint at a lot of events: corporate events, birthday parties, company pictures, nonprofits. Sometimes we paint at events where we get to paint bigger designs and sometimes we have three minutes or less while having to paint kids’ faces,” Tabatha explains. 

“We paint at events for special needs and it’s one of our favorites, we do it every year.” 

Tabatha explained how for people who are body painters, it’s not as easy and running to the store to buy paint and a canvas. “We use a lot of different paints and techniques that are sensory friendly.” Jamie mentioned, “It’s not a cheap hobby or craft. It’s very expensive. Like anything artististic, the better the quality the higher the price.” 

Both artists go on to explain how things like allergies, heat and even animal products can affect people’s skin. Luckily, they make sure to use the best product for the best quality. Their concern? “We always have to know what cost is fair where people still have the opportunity to do it. But we don’t want to lose money. We also don’t want to feel like people are being steamrolled.” Tabatha has been looking at different pricing options, even making different options available for non-profits. But, the company still depends on corporate events to help support the growth. 

Some of their most exciting events are the Autism Speaks events and the events that serve people with special needs. “This little boy watched and never got painted. The next time he came closer and I let him paint my arm. Over time, he finally got something painted on him,” Tabatha said, explaining a story about a special needs boy getting painted at an event. “It was such a big deal his mom cried.” Tabatha explained how because of sensory issues, some kids won’t always get their face painted even though they really want to and said the non-profit events are very near and dear to their hearts. 

Although starting a face-painting business sounds like fun, the process can be grueling. Tabatha said, “I started Cheeky Fun Joplin many years ago as a parent fighting my way out of deep poverty. I didn’t know another way to get out of poverty. The system is against you.” She said the only thing that helped her fight her way out was to be extremely creative and work really hard, sometimes multiple jobs or whatever you need to do. “Because of that, we really do have a passion for it.” 

Tabatha and Jamie have been really inspired by how opening and supportive the art community is here in Joplin. Jamie said, “We are in a big enough town to support each other’s ideas. We are not in a big enough town to tear each other’s ideas down.” They both discuss how the art community here is unlike other communities, in a way that it’s more supportive and not so cutthroat. 

“I’ve worked in many different kinds of businesses before and it’s all cutthroat. One thing I’ve learned,” Tabatha says, “is that when businesses are hateful to each other, those businesses go under. Big or small.” 

The Joplin Arts community is always open and welcoming to artists. The support we have for each other here is incredibly inspiring. Check out the Joplin Arts District facebook page here:

Tabatha and Jamie also have another side gig, called Cheeky Buns Body Painting! Which is full body painting for parties, advertising events, photography projects, etc. Tabatha mentioned how a lot of places in bigger cities use this type of painting for advertisements, but around here, it’s mostly for photography or maternity shoots. Jamie said it’s hard to get people to stand around for 6 hours and be painted, but it’s usually done for projects or shoots. 

If you want to get more information on Cheeky Fun Joplin or Cheeky Buns Body Painting, follow the link below! 

So, just a reminder:

Cheeky Fun Joplin – Kid-Friendly face-painting 

Cheeky Buns Body Painting – Adult only body painting 

You can find Cheeky Fun Joplin on Facebook

And Cheeky Buns Body Painting on Facebook

Photos provided by Tabatha Carter

Photographer & Model: Jessi Webb

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