How to become an illusionist?
Do you dream of the career of a professional magician? That’s the right place for you! In this article, I’m describing how to become an illusionist. Here, I advise you what to begin from, what to pay attention to and what to avoid. I really hope my tips will turn out to be helpful.
Magic for beginners
The history of illusion goes back to ancient times. As it’s already known from available sources, illusion was used for religious purposes by priests. Clergymen were using knowledge from different fields such as mathematics or astrology in order to create various delusions which were supposed to give a mystical character to religious ceremonies. Also prophets used similar techniques while making their prophecies. Basing on the knowledge unavailable to ordinary people, prophets were able to make sceptics believe in their visions.
The art of illusion, as we know it currently, developed in the 19th century. Back then, also professional magicians appeared who started to use mechanical devices in their art. We owe them many innovative tricks that involve manipulating different objects.
In the meantime, numerous forms of the art of illusion have developed such as: great illusion, close up magic, comedy illusion, mentalism and others. Over the years, shows given by magicians have become more and more popular and today they are an integral part of culture.
Magicians aren’t associated with street theatre anymore. On the contrary, they have become appreciated artists creating and taking part in high budget projects like tv shows or stage performances. No wonder, more and more young people are getting interested in magic. It’s a wonderful passion that may turn into your way of life and on which you may build your artistic career.
So how to become a magician? Above all, PRACTICE
Practice is a key element on your way to professionalism. At the beginning, start from some easy tricks that you can learn from the Internet (I recommend Chris Ramsay’s channels and 52 cards on YouTube – you can find there a lot of worthwhile content). You can also reach for professional literature – there are many books for magicians available on Polish book market.
Next, you should check out other, more advanced sources: read publications written by prominent illusionists or watch videos recorded by them. These materials include a lot of precious tips. What is more, they are ready guides explaining how to do certain tricks.
Remember that you won’t find any impressive knowledge in free resources. You should look for it either in Polish shops for illusionists or in stores abroad. Also, you can try to find it directly at the creators of magic. A lot of professional illusionists sell their original effects via internet websites.
Study consistently and keep improving techniques you have learnt. Focus on the tiniest details of every effect so that you can reach perfection in every trick you do. Practise and repeat a trick as long as it’s necessary to do it naturally, fluently and without thinking about it. When you master a technical part of your trick, add something from yourself. Create an interesting and original narration around your tricks. Fill them with fun and intriguing content.
Try out various solutions, change elements of your show, don’t hesitate to do so until you’re satisfied with the results. Following this way, you will create an extraordinary and an unique repertoire.
Be aware of the fact that becoming a professional illusionist is not only a time-consuming but also a demanding and laborious task. If you just start your adventure with magic, let me just tell you that it’s gonna take you a few years to do it professionally. And I can assure you that these few years will be filled with hard work.
Meet other illusionists
Observe your favourite magicians. If you have a chance, watch them performing live. See what exactly and how they present it on stage. Pay attention to how they make contact with their audience and how they build their routines. Get familiar with schemes and structures of a professional show and to do it you can simply search the Internet. The Internet is an extremely helpful resource – you will find there plenty of excellent magicians. Watch their performances.
Sign up for the workshops conducted by other, more experienced artists. There, you will meet people who share your passion. Although it might be a competitive environment, most professional magicians usually help the beginners. There are a few conventions for illusionists organized here in Poland. I personally recommend Cracow Magic Session. You will come face to face with renowned magicians there.
You can also make contact with other magicians via Internet. For instance, through Internet forums or other special groups which gather people interested in stage illusion. You will discover many intriguing issues there. However remember to verify the knowledge gained from such sources. You may ask me: why? The answer is simple: because you can sometimes find there a false piece of information which may confuse or mislead you.
I warn you not to observe other magicians too much. I agree that at the beginning of your adventure with illusion it’s really useful, but you have to be aware that after some time it may be rather misleading. Instead of developing your own creativity, there is a risk you will simply copy others. So don’t limit yourself. Find your own way…
Find your place
First of all, consider and decide what kind of illusion you would like to perform. Which form suits you best? Ask yourself whether you’d prefer to be a street artist or make a comedy show. Or maybe you are rather into classic illusion or something else?
While practising, you will for sure discover magic tricks that will suit you more than others. Concentrate on them and build your routine around them. Thanks to that you have a chance to stand out from the crowd. Select the effects which viewers won’t see anywhere else. Remember: in this profession creativity is a key to success. Don’t copy others.
Find your niche. I’ve found myself in comedy illusion. I’ve created a character of a drunk illusionist whom you may know from TV comedy shows. At the same time, I keep working on my other magic skills, which I may or may not present to the public in the future.
When you’re finally ready with your first artistic show, start performing. Have the courage to present your material to the audience different than only your family and friends. This kind of experience will teach you more than practising only in front of the mirror.
Practising at home and performing in front of a group of people are totally two different things. Even if, at the beginning, you will be too nervous and scared to perform in public, you you’ll learn to control it. What’s more, stage fright can become your actual “friend”.
Perform as often as possible and every time you do it, do it as well as you can. Take notes after every show. Write down what has been good in your opinion and what you should still improve. Even if something goes wrong remember that everybody learns from their mistakes. I record every new routine I present on stage. Later, I analyze it and draw conclusions, which I try to use during my next show.
You may wonder where you could present your skills in the first place. You can start from charity events. It’s a great opportunity to learn and get used to stage performances. It’s also a good idea to perform in local pubs or restaurants. At the beginning, focus on close up magic.
With every performance you give, you will feel more confident as an artist. You will gain precious experience and make new contacts, which can help you to develop your professional career. It often happens that a performer unexpectedly benefits from those first shows he or she gives. I personally had such a situation: I did magic tricks in a pub in Tricity several years ago and one of the viewers of my show contacted me after a few years to offer me a job. He hired me to perform during some corporate event.
Another great way of getting more practice is street performance, so called busking. There is no better way to prepare you for interaction with the audience than street show. I know it from my own experience: this is how I started. What’s more, during street shows I met a lot of my future clients.
To sum up, I’ve got two pieces of advice for you.
Firstly, remember that before you start introduce yourself as a professional magician and before you decide to give your business cards to people or send your offer to potential clients, prepare a really good show. A good show means the best you’re able to create.
There are a lot of people who try to turn their hobby into business too fast. Bear in mind that no matter how complicated and advanced tricks you manage to do, you won’t become a professional magician if you don’t build certain effects around your tricks, if you don’t create a spectacular show which people would like to watch and also if you don’t feel comfortable on stage (you must feel confident on it).
You need to put a lot of effort and hard work in order to create a professional illusion show. Nobody becomes an expert within a week.
Believe that when you have ready and checked repertoire, job offers will appear for sure. I have to tell you that so far I’ve had most of my gigs thanks to recommendations. One client simply recommends me to another and that’s how it works.
Secondly: Never lose what’s the most important: your passion. Thanks to your passion you will become an authentic and a complete artist… And one day you may become a legend…