Often people will ask “how do I become a magician?” but not many people ever ask why.
Why become a magician? What is there to gain from it? What’s the point? Is it too difficult? Is it expensive to get in to? Where would you even start anyway? Magic is such a secretive art form, how would you even learn it in the first place if magicians never reveal their tricks?
Good questions! I’ll see if I can answer some of them.
Why become a magician in the first place?
So, why become a magician? Money? Well, firstly, there are a lot easier ways to make money than performing magic. Going out at evenings and weekends to perform at corporate events, parties and weddings can be fun, but certainly not the easiest way of making money. If money is your primary motive, I’d suggest you stop now.
Magic is an incredibly rewarding hobby. There are not many hobbies that you can take with you wherever you go and for it to get the attention and adoration. I can’t imagine taking along a scarf that you’ve knitted to a party and for everyone to be stood around clapping you can buying you drinks.
It’s also a hobby that is very satisfying to do just on your own (up to a point – more about that later) or to go to the Blackpool Magicians Convention and share your hobby with 5000 other amateur magicians (and a fair few professional magicians as well).
Learning magic, as well as being incredibly satisfying, can really help with confidence. At school, I used it as way to talk to other kids. If you are a bit shy, magic is a good way of communicating and making connections with others. You just have to learn to not make it the ONLY thing you have. Nowadays, I very rarely perform magic unless I’m booked in a professional capacity, but I certainly used it as a teenager as a way of mixing with others.
Many hobbyist magicians will not say anything until they can bring out their cards and then make the whole evening about them. I can see the temptation. You perform a trick and the reaction can be intoxicating. So you want it again. And again. Then, the reaction has warn off so you need another hit. It’s like drugs or drink and can be just as expensive eventually. And you certainly shouldn’t drive whilst performing magic either.
How do you learn magic?
Many magicians start with a magic kit they got given as a child. On the Magician’s Podcast (interviews with top magicians), most pro magicians said they got given a magic kit or a magic book as child.
When I started, I had to learn from books borrowed from the library. I would constantly take them out and learn everything I could. In the books, I learnt about places you could buy more books from and places you could buy magic tricks. I also learnt about The Magic Circle (a magic club for magicians to meet, swap tricks and generally talk about magic).
It then moved on to cassette tapes, VHS tapes, DVDs and then you could buy a trick and the instructions were password protected online.
Nowadays, there are plenty of place you can learn magic online without having to leave your house. YouTube full of people revealing tricks they shouldn’t and to be honest, so never know if they are teaching you the correct way in the first place. It can be a case of the blind leading the blind.
A really good course for a small amount of money per month is Steve Faulkner’s Online Magic. Steve is a professional magician and knows how to perform the moves correctly and knows how to teach well.
You can also buy magic tricks from lots of websites online. Often you are partly paying for the secret, and the secret can often be disappointing, so don’t be surprised if your money often doesn’t seem to get you very much.
Is it difficult to learn magic?
Yes and no. There are tons of tricks out there that are labelled as self working. That’s usually to say that there isn’t much sleight of hand involved. However, although these are a good place to start so you can get your dopamine hit of showing someone a magic trick and then asking “how did you do that?”, you’ll eventually want to move on to something more rewarding. Learning sleight of hand with cards, coins etc can be a bit more difficult. What’s even more difficult is finding a way to perform these tricks to people in your own style. A trick on it’s own will get you so far, but if you think of all the best magicians (or singers, comedians etc) they all perform in their own style that makes it unique.
The most rewarding type of magic is the type that took you a while to learn and know that no one else could simply just pick up the prop and make it happen. Once you’ve spent hours learn and perfecting a bit of sleight of hand, it really gives you an appreciation of the art of magic and makes you want to learn the next trick or sleight.
What are other benefits of learning magic?
Learning magic can have a variety of benefits, including:
- Improved hand-eye coordination: Performing magic tricks often requires precise hand movements, which can improve your coordination and dexterity.
- Boosted self-confidence: Successfully performing a magic trick in front of an audience can be a real confidence booster, especially if you’re someone who is naturally shy or introverted.
- Enhanced problem-solving skills: Magic often involves figuring out how to manipulate objects or deceive an audience, which can help improve your problem-solving skills. There are lots of times magic methods cross over in to real life skills.
- Increased creativity: Magic tricks require a lot of creativity and imagination, which can help you develop your own creative skills and spark new ideas. One of the exciting things to do in magic is to adapt existing tricks or make up brand new ones.
- Better public speaking skills: Performing magic tricks in front of an audience can also help improve your public speaking skills and reduce stage fright.
- Increased attention to detail: Performing magic tricks requires paying attention to small details, which can help you develop better attention to detail in other areas of your life.
Overall, learning magic can be a fun and rewarding hobby that offers a wide range of benefits beyond just the entertainment value of the tricks themselves.
Ultimately, magic is a performance art. It only really becomes magic once it shown to someone else. For instance, you can’t really say vanishing a coin is magic if you know where it really went. However, when someone watches it and they can’t see where it went and can’t explain how it went, it then, and only then, becomes magic.
Why become a professional magician?
A few people start out doing magic as a hobby and then start performing for family and friends socially. Then, it’s friends of friends. Then it’s strangers. Maybe you’re on holiday or at a work event and decide to show a few tricks to break the ice. People start telling you that you are amazing and you should charge money for it. Eventually, you decide to start picking up a few gigs on a semi professional level and you enjoy performing and enjoy the money. You then decide you would like to do it full time.
Becoming a professional magician is a huge leap. It can seem very appealing. Money for doing what you love. No boss. The freedom. And let me tell you, it is. Over the years I’ve performed on stage, close up at events and even on Zoom with my virtual magic show and absolutely love it.
But it’s not for everyone. In fact, for most professional magicians it can be quite a struggle. You spend most of your time chasing jobs, marketing etc. You then end up performing the same 10 tricks over and over again as you know they work best. Eventually, everything you loved about magic as a hobby has, ironically, disappeared.
I once heard of a young magician getting advice when asking an older magician on how he could be a professional magician. The older magician said don’t. The theory was that if the younger magician took that advice, he probably didn’t have the drive in the first place to make a living from magic. If he ignored the advice, then possibly, just possibly, he had enough drive and fire to make it work.
About The Author
Alan Hudson is a professional magician. He’s appeared on Britain’s Got Talent, The Next Great Magician and fooled Penn & Teller on their TV show Penn & Teller: Fool Us. He’s also performed at thousands of corporate events and parties all over the world.