So, you want to become a magician? Welcome to the club!
Magic, real magic, is a concept humans have been chasing down for thousands of years. Unfortunately, we’re still reliant on quick hands and misdirection to perform modern day miracles, but in my opinion, that’s even more impressive. If all it took was a snap of your fingers to make a car vanish, where would be the skill and joy in that? But having the sheer cojones to make a car vanish, using only tactics most frequently used by the common criminal, that is magic.
I’m going to break down becoming a magician into 5 steps, so feel free to jump around to wherever is most relevant to you.
1. Make sure you’ve done your research before you spend any money!
I could have started this list by telling you what equipment and props to buy, but what would be the point in that if, after a week, you decide you aren’t actually interested in this hobby, or even career path? Make sure you do a bit of reading up on the topic first; listen to interviews with professional magicians to find out what the job is really like, watch videos of magicians performing to see if you could imagine yourself in their shoes, and ask yourself if you have the dedication to get there. Magic is not an easy, but it can be immensely satisfying and exciting.
If you decide you really do want to be a magician, and you’re willing to put time and effort into achieving that goal, read on! If you would rather learn a few tricks to show your friends at the pub, or to impress your aunt at that family get together, check out my Quick And Easy Card Tricks article!
2. Buy only what you need to start with.
For a beginner magician, it can be very difficult to stop yourself splashing cash all over the latest tricks you see advertised.
But take this advice: spend the very minimum on props, and then give them your full attention until you master them. For a card magician, this may mean just buying a Bicycle deck of cards, or for a mentalist, buying 13 Steps To Mentalism (the ‘Bible’ of mentalism).
There are thousands of different tricks you can accomplish with just a deck of cards, and I would recommend that you start by learning 5 good card tricks inside out. Once you have this ‘base’ established, you could begin drifting out into other channels. If you can’t decide which field of magic to pursue, I recommend you take a look at Learn Easy Magic, a set of books that cover the basics of tricks with money, cards, mind-reading and everyday objects. Read more about this course here.
3. Create a persona.
I cannot emphasize this step enough! The very best magicians on the planet, past or present, are all very different from each other in style. Think about David Blaine’s monotonous but captivating drawl in his street magic specials, contrasted with a performer like David Williamson’s flamboyant and eccentric nature. If you want to succeed as a magician, you need to come up with a character that is instantly recognizable and unique. Instead of copying the greats, draw different aspects from different magicians, but make sure you combine them in a way that hasn’t been done before.
If this seems like an intimidating concept, try letting a personal style develop naturally. Go out and perform for people, and before long, you might find that a particular joke you tell as you ask them to pick a card always seems to get more laughs, or a particular flourish you make as you produce their card always gets a better reaction. Some things work best for certain people, and you will definitely naturally put together a script to go with each trick you perform.
If you can’t pick a style of magic, and nothing seems to be developing naturally, you could even consider performing silently! The point is, everyone is unique, and that is something that should be represented by even the way we do our magic.
Once you have a persona- practice, practice, practice! Get your act fine tuned until you can do it in your sleep.
4. Start small; restaurants, pubs, even the streets!
Like any career ladder, you’re going to have to start at the bottom. The good news is that this isn’t actually a bad thing; it will give you a lot of chance to refine your act on much more forgiving audiences, and give you priceless experience in audience management and showmanship! Plus, you can earn a tidy sum of money from some venues, like restaurants to support your journey.
Getting booked for things like parties and corporate events isn’t easy- but there is plenty of advice online on how to do this. Do some research!
If you don’t feel ready for pubs and restaurants, consider performing magic for people on the street.
While this may seem even more intimidating, it is generally much more personal and can reduce the pressure you feel from a crowd. If an effect is not going the way it should, it is much better- you’re not being paid for the magic, and therefore there is less responsibility to do well.
If the idea of performing for strangers is still too much, practice your magic in front of friends and family. They are, on one hand, much less daunting a prospect, but on the other, they can be more critical of your magic as they won’t be as worried about offending you. Try to learn from their critique though, and you will have won anyway.
5. Work your way up- be patient.
Now that you’re getting gigs at restaurants, perhaps birthday parties or corporate events, continue building a reputable reputation and increasing your skill. As you entertain more people, they might in turn recommend you to others. The more contacts you build, the more likely you are to be booked for bigger events. Let the ladder naturally carry you upwards, and never stop learning.
Other ways of increasing your standing could involve creating a YouTube account, posting in magician forums like The Magic Cafe, and applying for magic competitions. They might not feel momentous, but everything adds up!
I hope this guide has helped you gain an idea of what becoming a magician might involve, and if you have anything to add, ask or disagree with me on, feel free to post a comment letting me know and I will reply!