Meet Marissa Kaplan-Dobbs (she/her), founder of Happy Faces Face Painting, Balloons, and Glitter, and Brooklyn parent of two, and find out about her life in Brooklyn and what it’s like to get to play with paint, glitter, and balloons as a job.
Your job title: Bringer of sparkling, colorful joy to parties, events, fairs, and more (technically, professional face painter, balloon twister, and glitter artist).
Your work in one sentence: I’m a professional face and body artist, and balloon twister. My company, Happy Faces Face Painting, Glitter, and Balloons, offers face painting, balloon sculptures and wearables, glitter tattoos, festival-style glitter eye designs for children and grown-ups at parties, corporate events, b’nai mitzvahs, festivals, proms, weddings, clubs and the like throughout the five boroughs and in the Catskills for parts of the summer. I also do individual sessions for folks who want special Halloween or costume party makeup, bespoke glitter body art, or balloon gifts (like bouquets of balloon flowers or balloon caricatures).
Your children: I have a 7-year old and a 9-year old
Where do your kids go to school: Both kids go to Compass Charter School, in Fort Greene. It’s really amazing, a bit of a hidden gem! It’s intentionally racially, culturally, and socio-economically diverse, with an inquiry-based curriculum rooted in social justice, sustainability, and the arts. The kids have thrived there, and I’m basically obsessed with how fantastic the teachers and school leadership are.
Which neighborhood do you live in: Downtown Brooklyn
What do you love about living in Brooklyn: The people! It’s a magnet for passionate, creative, thoughtful people who care about each other and the world around us. Honestly, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
More information about your business: I feel incredibly lucky to do this work, and to be welcomed into different families’ and communities’ celebrations. Kids are so creative, and always have the best and most hilarious ideas. Recently, one child wanted me to paint a garden hose on their cheek, and another one asked for the Hindenburg! Working with adults is also wonderful – I recently did these elaborate balloon fairy wings with coordinating fancy eye glitter and crystals for a couple going to a costume party.
I only use FDA-approved, cosmetic grade face paints and glitter, and biodegradable balloons. As a parent, I used to dread trying to coax my kids into washing their faces before bed if they had face paint on, AND the process of actually removing it. But, after years of doing this (and practicing on my kids), I’ve become very savvy with easy ways to get face paint off skin, and a couple of tricks of how to preserve special designs (as well as only using paints that are the easiest to remove) – there are videos for both of these on my website, happyfacesnyc.com.
Another outstanding thing about being a face painter and balloon artist is the warm community of fellow face painters and balloon artists in NYC! I’ve learned so much from many of them, and love it when we have opportunities to work together and collaborate – Sharon Enlow at brooklynfacepainter.com and Onalee Rivera at onaleerivera.com have been wonderful mentors and the best to work with.