I have gleefully painted windows for a couple of decades. Learn about my technique and decorate your windows this holiday season!
Window Painting as a Business
If you paint Christmas designs and other images on a consistent basis you should think about starting a window painting business. You'll just need a few supplies and little creative thinking.
Selling window art is like any other sales gig. You may have to take a lot of rejection before you make your first sale, but don't give up. If you are prepared correctly you will find clients who will welcome your services.
Knocking on doors in your area may turn this artistic skill into a seasonal side job—earning you a few bucks during the holidays. This is how I took my art to the streets. I picked up a paint box, a window cleaning bucket, and started pounding the sidewalk. It turned into an amazing opportunity. I've added some of my paintings and sketches throughout the article as examples.
For a budding, young artist it is the gateway to sign painting. For others, it is a seasonal hobby.
Here, I will help you learn how to:
- start a portfolio
- market yourself
- price your time and your paintings
- do a thorough job (including cleaning!)
- earn long-term clients
They will call you back or greet you kindly when you contact them before the season starts and set your appointments. Window painting at Christmas generally starts the day after Thanksgiving, but you might want to start checking out window clients as soon as you think you are ready to paint.
The first place to start is with a sketchbook.
Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art.
Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.
— Andy Warhol
1. Sketchbook Portfolio
Assemble a sketchbook full of traditional holiday designs in your style. The sketch above is an outline of the painting for the painted image in the introduction.
This sketchbook becomes your window art portfolio. Don't forget to bring a camera when you paint so you may eventually include photographs of your work. You want to collect full-color demonstrations of your work and what you have to offer clients.
Read More From Toughnickel
Your Window Art Portfolio
Sketches help you see what details to include in a design. Each artist has a unique style and using a pre-planned drawing or sketch helps demonstrate that. Collect designs you want to paint. Show these sketches to potential clients when you are ready to sell window painting. With a sketchbook in hand, clients can see your talent and art design mastery.
Images can be personalized for themes based on the businesses you are working with. If you have a pizza restaurant, for example, you can draw and paint Santa or elves tossing the dough or have them sharing a pizza pie.
Start with Christmas designs then move on to other holidays and themes such as Thanksgiving and Fall, Valentine's Day, St. Paddy's Day, Easter, and Fourth Of July.
Sketchbooks and Sketching Sets
Bring along plenty of sketch paper when you start selling window paintings. You will need it to draw out your designs after you have discussed what your client would like on their windows. Having these materials handy is a great way to cut time and show your talent to your prospective clientele.
Design a new theme each year using your favorite elements. Make sure you sketch out each one of your ideas so you have a base of designs to work from and you have a future portfolio to show. You can go back later and see which elements are your favorites and which ones your clients liked the best. Make notes for each of your designs to keep track of their popularity.
Keep Your Sketches Organized
Keeping your design sketches organized is easier when you can keep them all in one place. Portfolio cases are attractive and durable and they keep your artwork organized in a professional manner. They will protect your drawings and sketches and prevent the edges from being tattered and torn. They will also save you the heartache of having your precious art damaged. Keep your images cataloged and you will be able to find them quickly to show your potential customer.
2. Make Your Own Cards and Fliers
You will need business cards to leave with stores and businesses where the owner or the decision-maker is not available. You will also need them to leave with current clients so they can refer you to other business owners. Make sure you give a card to everyone you talk to about your window painting business. They may not want the decorating today, but they may call you if they do decide they want your services or have a friend in need.
Pick a unique title for your business and design an attractive simple card for printing. Print up a few dozen. When your business grows you can have fancy ones printed!
You may also want to print out a flier with your services included on it. A half-page flier is generally a good size. Make sure you include window cleaning and paint removal with your services. The clean-up before painting should be a free service. The paint removal afterward is a fee you charge when services are rendered. The general charge for paint removal is $10 for a couple of small windows up to $30 or more for businesses that have a zillion windows. I recommend checking out the job before you charge and potentially charging per window. This will depend on the cost of your cleaning supplies and transportation, etc.
3. Price Your Time and Work
I would recommend you set your pricing before you start selling window painting designs. Add price tags to your design sketches in your sketch portfolio. When people ask to look, they'll know what each costs!
When a customer knows upfront what your designs will cost them, it will be easier to come to an agreement on the price of the window painting. They might not be so quick as to ask you to draw and paint Uncle Harry's fuzzy mug in a funky design if they know that unique designs cost more.
Make sure they see a blank page that says that you charge extra for special images. If they want to put up the cash for that painting—by all means, paint it! Don't sell yourself short and do charge accordingly for it. It's your art, what is your time worth? There are sign painters that charge $1 a minute, so you can base what you want to charge using that as a guideline.
A holly leaf design is a simple design. I would charge $5 to $7 for each holly leaf I paint. It is a simple image to complete so the pricing is lower. A candy cane would be $10. I charge more for a candy cane than I do for the holly because of the detailed work in this design.
A scene such as a fully detailed Santa Claus Sled and Reindeer would be at least $45. The amount of detail work involved, the paint and supplies used, and the time it takes to complete a Santa scene are more extensive. The same rule of thumb applies to painting a snowman. The more detailed a window painting design is the more work you put into it. And this means you will charge more for them.
Rules of Thumb
The overarching rule for pricing out your services is the following:
- Add up the cost of your materials
- Figure out how much of your materials (paint) you use per job
- Charge double to triple the price of what it costs you. For example, if you use $3.50 worth of paint on a holly leaf, charge at least $7 to pay for the paint and your time. Don't price gouge, but make sure you are profiting and covering your costs!
- Figure out how much each ounce of paint costs by dividing the volume of the full container by the price.
- Don't forget to factor in other costs (gas, bus tickets, food for a long job).
4. Be Thorough!
Cleaning off window paint after the holiday is over can add a few more dollars to your pocket. It is also required if you are going to paint for the next upcoming holiday and generate business every single season. Take the time to do it right and will win long-time clients for your business.
Take care to remove all the paint spatters from the frames and panes and leave a shiny impression behind you!
Never charge for window cleaning after the season is over until you actually complete the service. Make sure the business owner knows this and it is clear to them you will be back when the holiday is past to do the cleaning. Be neat in your painting and when you clean the paintings off. Good business in window painting means leaving behind NO MESSES!
Pricing Cleaning and Selling Your Services to Generate Regulars
If you are cleaning off a window and are commissioned to paint for the next round as well, work the price of cleaning into your overall price. This gives the perception that you are giving your returning clients a deal. Offer this to one-time clients, but let them know to clean the windows alone with no second design there is a flat fee.
5. Offer Professional Invoices and Receipts to Clients
Whenever I do a window painting job I write up a receipt for myself and for the client's records.
- Fill out the date and the work completed on the receipt.
- Add your phone number on the receipt because business cards get lost or tossed out.
- I usually write: Holiday Painting $X and indicate on the receipt that the windows were cleaned PRIOR to painting and that service was free.
- Make sure you write on the receipt that paint removal is not billed and will be charged at the time services are rendered unless you work it into a price package for a regular.
Small Business Ordinances With Your City
The window painting business can be a lot of fun and the money you make from it can be really good. If you decide you do want to go into business for yourself, make sure you check the ordinances where you live for the proper licensing you will need to run your business.
A simple business license will be needed and you will need to keep good records for tax purposes. Make sure you save your receipts and all invoices. You will need to file a tax form for itemizing your deductions and for claiming and paying your taxes. You may choose to use this as a hobby for profit or it can qualify for a small business. These factors depend on if you have made over $600 or more when painting windows.
Use a Contract or Contact Sheet
The easiest way to keep your records organized and build clients is with a contract or a contact sheet. This way, you can refer to what the clients' needs are in a document and keep things organized for end-of-year taxes. I have one embedded below as an example.
Make that green but keep it honest!
Whether you paint for yourself on your home windows or you choose to venture out and sell window paintings, I hope you found these directions and tips easy to follow and apply.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Maria Burgess
Guestbook Comments - And Review
KS-Kat on January 02, 2017:
Is there a basic pricing list i.e. $/hr that you charge or just for basic designs?
Maria Burgess (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on November 15, 2014:
You are welcome, Evelyn!
evelyn on November 07, 2014:
This info. Was the bomb. The. Whole. Bomb. And. Nothing. But. The. Bomb. Blessesings. For. Sure. Gratitude. For ur. Teachings. N. Wisdom
Maria Burgess (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on August 20, 2013:
@RuthieDenise: Thank you for stopping by!
RuthieDenise on August 20, 2013:
What a great business idea. I wish I was artistic. Great Lens.
idealshedplans on August 04, 2013:
Window painting is an art form, do like your lens topic, I am not an artist myself but do like good work
Maria Burgess (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on February 17, 2013:
@lesliesinclair: Thank you! =) Appreciate your comment!
lesliesinclair on February 16, 2013:
Occasionally I did paint on our home windows. Yes, you did a nice job of presenting concise tips.
Maria Burgess (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on January 21, 2013:
@Scotties-Rock: Thanks for your visit!
Clairissa from OREFIELD, PA on January 20, 2013:
Sounds like a great idea! I wish I was more artistic.
Maria Burgess (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on January 18, 2013:
@Jo-Jackson: Thanks for the comment and visit! =)
Jo-Jackson on January 17, 2013:
I'm not artistic enough to do this but it looks like a great idea.