How do you stand out among 20 million people? You throw the best events, of course. And when you’re a NYC event planner, putting on the best shindigs is all about booking the right artists to entertain your guests.
The Big Apple is chock-full of performers. But sometimes, New York events call for artists who are a little different than the standard DJ or cover band performers. Here, we’ve put together a list of the best of the best—from the tried-and-true, like face painters, to the who-would-have-thought, like visual note-takers.
1. Caricature Artists
There’s nothing quite like the joy of seeing your own mug overhauled in a hand-drawn caricature portrait, complete with an elongated nose, buck teeth, and receding hairline. Finally, someone to appreciate all of your best features.
Caricature artists have a knack for making us feel like a kid again while poking gentle fun at some of our more ordinary features. And no one does it quite as well as Joe Vissichelli of Caricature Dreams. Boasting big clients like American Express, Samsung, and BMW, Vissichelli’s artwork was even featured in an SNL skit.
2. Body and Face Painters
Walk into a corporate event as a drab Chief Information Officer; come out with a glow-in-the-dark tiger face.
Whether your New York event is for a Bat Mitzvah or a corporate team-building event, face painting breaks the ice. Imagine your guests dancing under strobing club lights with glow-in-the-dark body art. Or imagine your client’s company logo turned into dazzling airbrushed tattoos. With body painters at your New York event, the possibilities are endless.
For all of these ideas and more, go to Illuminated Faces. Voted Best Kids’ Party Entertainers of 2023 by New York Magazine, Tommi May of Illuminated Faces elevates ho-hum face painting to high art. May’s work isn’t the caked-on Coney Island face painting of your childhood.
3. Henna Art
NYC event planners looking for something glamorous and alluring can book a henna artist for their next NYC event. Henna art originated in ancient Egypt but grew into a fully realized art form in India. Today, henna art has spread to the West, with the likes of Madonna and Liv Tyler sporting the art form’s intricate and beautiful designs.
Book Mehndi NYC to create stunning henna art at your New York event. Downtown Magazine called Mehndi NYC “the place for henna” in New York. Mehndi NYC stands out not only for its remarkable and authentic designs but also for its henna paste. Made of natural ingredients and essential oils, the henna paste is made in-house.
4. Visual Note Taker
Kelly Kingman is working to make the corporate conference a safer place for everyone. Alarmed by the risk of “death by PowerPoint” inherent at such conferences, Kelly founded Kingman Ink, a team of visual note-takers who create colorful, hand-drawn visuals in real-time to simplify ideas and keep the audience engaged.
Presentations at your clients’ New York events have a bigger impact when you incorporate creative and colorful visual aids. Using graphic artists to create visual notes for your events reinforces and simplifies the information presented. And watching those visuals being drawn in real-time keeps your audience entertained and engaged.
5. Balloon Sculptures
Sure, sculptures cast of bronze or chiseled from marble impress some. But a picnic scene sculpted entirely of balloons? Now, that’s high art worthy of a New York event.
Like any worthy New Yorker, NYC artists who work with balloons take it up a notch. They go beyond simple swans and instead create pieces that are both sophisticated and whimsical. And you can hire them to bring their playful creations to your NYC events.
New York event planners can contact Janice Spagnola of Air Sculpture for fun, intricate balloon sculptures that are sure to bring smiles. Janice also offers performance installations, in which she entertains while creating charming, big-scale balloon sculptures. Whether you want small party favors for your guests or a large installation to wow them, balloon artists are a versatile, delightful entertainment option.
6. Live Painting Event
As a NYC event planner, you already have a shortlist of the best photographers to capture the special moments. Why not also capture the mood and energy with a live painting event?
New York event planners can hire artists to create a one-of-a-kind memento while entertaining guests at the same time. Your guests will be overcome with awe as they watch the artist paint and create the perfect keepsake.
Give Event Painting By Katherine a call to hire an artist with the know-how about the dual aims of live event painting. Katherine can create a unique masterpiece while interacting with and entertaining your guests. With awards from WeddingWire and The Knot, Katherine has the talent and background to create an experience your guests will remember and a masterpiece your clients will admire for years to come.
7. Performance Painting
Everyone has that wild uncle who arrives at the family holiday party riding their hog and spiking Grandma’s eggnog with a little something extra. Performance painting is that wild child.
Whereas a typical live event painting will leave your evening gown unscathed by errant paint, everyone stands back when a performance painter takes up his oversized brushes. With an emphasis on performance, a performance painter will rouse the crowd and move to the music while creating a speed-painting marvel. Rather than being merely a friendly observer, a performance painter steals the show.
When your larger-than-life NYC events call for an artistic personality to match its scale, call in Dan Dunn of PaintJam. As featured on Jimmy Fallon and the Super Bowl, this YouTube sensation in coveralls will pump up the crowd while painting on a massive, rotating canvas. The result is a dynamic piece of art greater than the sum of its paint strokes, splashes, and splatter.
When your New York events call for classic entertainment with a twist, hire a celebrity impersonator. New York’s Unique Entertainment Corp. can hook you up with Lucille Ball, Freddie Mercury, or any number of other convincing impersonators. Whether you want celebrities working the room and providing photo ops, or you want a full-on performance, a celebrity impersonator is a surefire way to tap into your guests' nostalgia and use the aura of fame to put on an unforgettable event.
9. Real, Big-Name Celebrities
Sometimes, even New York isn’t big enough to find the artist who will put on a truly show-stopping, epic performance. When you want them starstruck and screaming, go to Booking Entertainment. There, you can find big names that make your clients’ Bar Mitzvahs, corporate events, or birthday parties the talk of the city.
And we’re not talking about B-rated celebrities from decades ago. Gig work is big business for today’s A-listers. Even Beyoncé and J-Lo are playing to private crowds. So, if your clients have the funds and want to put on a party that will be the envy of their set, look into hiring big-name artists to entertain your NYC events.
FAQs About NYC Artists and Events
How do you book an artist for an event?
You can book any artist, big or small, for your New York event. First, consider your budget and the type of event you’re hosting. Then, create a shortlist of suitable artists using the list above or by doing your own research. Try to think outside the box for a truly memorable event. Then, reach out to the artist you choose through their website or agent.
How do you entertain a crowd at an event?
To entertain a crowd at a NYC event, you have to understand your audience. Go beyond the obvious. Even a buttoned-up exec was 20-something once. Consider your guests’ average age, income, and background. Then, match the information you learned with the type of event you’re hosting. Finally, find an artist who connects with your audience while still maintaining the event’s atmosphere.
How do you elevate corporate events?
The first step to elevating corporate events is to consider the event’s main purpose. Is the corporate event a celebration, an educational conference, or a client mixer? Then, look at what others are doing. Finally, find entertainment in keeping with the event’s purpose while still being bigger than what the competition is doing.
Level-Up Your New York Events with These Incredible NYC Artists
When your clients need to stand out in a city of 20 million people, you need to think outside the box and book artists who know how to bring it. Whether you’re going with the tried-and-true, like caricature artists, or going all-in with famous names, look for incredible NYC artists who are in a class all by themselves.
And when you’re aiming to be a NYC event planner in a class all by yourself, attend The Event Planner Expo 2024. You’ll find all of the top industry professionals and the best vendors for NYC events at the expo. You’ll also see keynote speakers who are thought leaders in their fields. Now’s your chance to reserve your booth and showcase your services to thousands of top event professionals and decision makers, too. Spaces are booking already for October 2024 - secure your spot!