We all get into magic for different reasons. Magic doesn't have to be something you take seriously; it could be as simple as learning a trick or two to show friends and family, an interesting hobby, or it could be a lifelong passion-filled career.
For the purpose of this blog, this advice is geared towards young magicians who want to take their magic to the next level beyond just a casual hobby. If you want to be taken seriously for your craft by spectators and customers, absorbing these principles will be crucial.
1. Perform Often
“When people don't respond to what you do, they're telling you something loud and clear. You're just not listening". ~ Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent, author of "The 50th Law"
In order to listen to your audience, you have to perform….a lot. This means performing for people outside of your friends and family. There is no “magic” unless someone is on the other end to receive what you’re offering. Magic is a collaborative sport. You might know a ton of sleights or effects, but performing for a live audience is crucial to your progress and development as an entertainer.
2. Sleights & Secrets Aren’t That Important
When I first started, like any young magician, I thought that the core of magic was sleights and secrets. Those factors are obviously important to magic, but they’re only a vehicle to deliver astonishment just like CGI is used to deliver the message of the Director. True magic happens in the minds of the spectators.
Knowing the secret or how to do a move is akin to knowing your lines in a play, but without proper presentations, voice inflections, body language, timing, and delivery your audience won’t feel the emotions you would like them to experience.
In that regard, working on your social IQ, your conversation skills, and your improv ability is mandatory in having your audience care about what you're showing them. This determines whether people just remember the tricks or if they remember YOU.
3. Practice More Than 100%
What happens during show time has very little to do with whether your performance is successful or not. The success and failure of your show has already been determined weeks and months before. In any entertainment art form, practice and rehearsals are vital to how well you'll execute when you get in front of your audience. If you don't take your practice sessions seriously, then you'll turn in a sub-par performance. The harder you work prior to the show, the more effortless it will be in front of your audience.
Justin Timberlake is a 9-time Grammy award winner, one of the biggest music superstars on the planet, and this is what he had to say about doing the work behind the scenes: Put In More Than 100%
4) Have Other Interests Outside Of Magic
"Have heroes outside of magic.
Love something besides magic, in the arts. Get inspired by a particular poet, film-maker, sculptor, composer. I should be a film editor. I'm a magician. And if I'm good, it's because I should be a film editor. Bach should have written opera or plays. But instead, he worked in eighteenth-century counterpoint. That's why his counterpoints have so much more point than other contrapuntalists. They have passion and plot. Shakespeare, on the other hand, should have been a musician, writing counterpoint. That's why his plays stand out from the others through their plot and music." ~ Teller, of the legendary duo, Penn & Teller
It is no coincidence that David Copperfield's heroes were entertainers such as Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Francis Ford Coppola, Orson Wells, and Walt Disney - dancers, singers, directors, and creators - not magicians. Thanks to Copperfield's love and admiration for other art forms, he was able to bring those principles into his shows and transformed magic for mainstream audiences in such a way that had never been done before.
If you want your magic to be unique to you, then expand your horizons; seek out knowledge and interests in other areas of life. It doesn't matter what it is so long as it is something that you're truly interested in. This will make you a better magician simply due to the fact that you’ll just be a more well-rounded individual.
5) Don't Just Hang Out With Magicians
It is very natural to want to be around those who share our passions. We learn a lot from spending time with other magicians and I've certainly gained a vast amount of knowledge, skills, and ideas from other conjurers. This only becomes an issue when you have no other influences outside of the magic community. When you only hang out with magicians, you end up using the same lines, the same jokes, and the same presentations; you get trapped in the same limitations or worse….an echo chamber!
So be sure that you also surround yourself with people who have different professions and hobbies than you do. Learn to listen to other people's passions and be interested in what they're about. Not only do you gain a valuable network, but you'll be able to fuse a lot of original principles into your presentations that other magicians haven't considered.