Welcome back to our series on magic, magicians, and the world of illusion!
Our next installment will cover a little bit of career advice, as it is.
What if you, or someone you know, wants to become a magician?
Is there a step-by-step process you can follow in order to become a magician?
So today, let’s take a look at how someone if they so desired, could learn to become a magician if you so aspire to do so.
How to become a magician? Here is a list of steps that you need to follow to become a magician:
- Learn How to Be an Entertainer
- Figure Out – What Kind Of Magician Do You Want to Be?
- Learn Some Basic Tricks And Practice Them
- Build On What You’ve Learned
- Market Yourself And Get Hired to Perform
Table of Contents
1. Learn How to Be an Entertainer
This one may seem like an interesting category to lead off with when the topic at hand is “how can I become a magician?” But hear me out on this one.
When you think about it if you want to be not only a magician but also a good magician that is successful (specifically in terms of making money off of being a magician and potentially turning it into a career), what is the most important part of magic performances?
Surely there are many people who practice magic, people who are good at the actual tricks themselves.
With enough practice, anyone can do a card trick, or learn to levitate or make a coin appear or disappear.
So why are some people who practice magic successful and famous (like a David Blaine or a Criss Angel) and some toil in obscurity?
The answer, of course, is theatricality and showmanship.
To be a successful magician, one must at heart be an entertainer.
As I have pointed out in previous articles, at heart, the stage (or close-up or parlor) magician is a performer and is putting on a show that in some ways no different from a play or musical performance.
Would you watch a play that is boring or go see a musical act that isn’t interesting or good?
Of course not.
And similarly, would you go see a magician who wasn’t an entertainer?
It’s highly unlikely.
As we’ve talked about before, one of the key elements of a successful magician who performs on stage is that of misdirection.
But really, at its heart, what is misdirection?
It’s being able to distract your audience by doing something else that holds their attention; in essence, you have to entertain your audience in some other way to keep them from noticing what you’re actually doing (which is at the core of the trick you may be performing)!
The article linked above notes that it’s actually better to keep your audience engaged (see: entertained) in the trick by actually having them focus more on what’s going on than on trying to move their attention elsewhere.
In other words, you have to be some engrossing and entertaining that your audience doesn’t actually know there’s a trick going on.
In addition, the article notes (in technique #5) that indeed, it’s not really as much about the trick being performed as it is about the people (the audience) you are performing it for; in other words, you have to entertain the audience to keep them engrossed in what you are doing.
Indeed, when it comes down it, one of the most important aspects of being a successful magician is that element of theatricality, the entertainment factor that will separate you from other magicians.
But there is, of course, more to it than that.
Even if you are the most entertaining and engaging performer on the planet, if you don’t know any magic tricks then no one is going to want to hire you as a magician.
So once you learn the entertainment aspect of things, you have to focus on your craft, which leads us to…
2. Figure Out – What Kind of Magician Do You Want to Be?
If you’re going to make it as a magician, you have to learn the tools of the trade.
You have to master magic tricks! But there are some things to consider.
One major thing to keep in mind when training to become a magician is to pick a specialty.
This is true of many fields: doctors, lawyers, teachers, and even magicians!
Indeed, even if you are someone who can perform a whole range of magic tricks across all the disciplines, when you’re looking to get hired to put on performances it’s generally frowned upon to be seen as someone without a strong suit; many people even actively shy away from magicians who are seen as a “jack of all trades, master of none.”
It’s actually a common theme in the larger history of famous magicians that you need a specific focus (or “gimmick” if you want to think about it that way) if you want to really make it.
Many of the famous magicians throughout history, including ones I’ve talked about in previous installments of this article series, were masters of countless types of magic tricks but really became famous for one or two aspects of magical performance that they became associated with overtime.
Robert-Houdin, for instance, was a master of many types of magic but was best known for Second Sight and The Ethereal Suspension.
Harry Houdini was originally known for his multiple card tricks, but he’s of course better known for being the first great escapologist. Criss Angel is best known for levitation and similar tricks, even though he has multiple in his arsenal.
So, after learning how to be entertaining, the next thing you have to do if you want to become a successful magician is to pick a specialty and get good at it.
Do you want to be an illusionist?
Perhaps you want to be a mentalist and wow your audiences by “reading their minds”?
Maybe you want to be an escapologist in the vein of Harry Houdini or David Blaine?
Or maybe you want to be a kid’s magician who entertains at children’s birthday parties?
There are endless possibilities when it comes to choosing your specialty.
So how do you decide what kind of magician you want to be?
The first thing you can do, as noted in the article linked above, is to just try out different types of magic tricks and try them out.
You don’t have to know right away what you want to do as far as magic goes; instead, try some tricks from different fields, try performing them, and adjust your goals and decisions based on how well you do and how much you like doing certain types of tricks.
After all, if you’re going to be a magician, you’re likely going to have to commit to it as a full-time job; therefore, you’ll need to try out different styles of magic to determine what you’d want to do for a living!
3. Learn Some Basic Tricks and Practice Them
So as noted, one of the most important things to do when determining what kind of magician you want to be is to try out different types of magic and learn different tricks and perform them.
But that brings up another important issue: how exactly do you learn these tricks in order to try them out?
There are plenty of websites, schools, and other places to learn magic tricks so that you can try them out yourself.
I will list some online resources in the following paragraphs, and I’ll give you a list of the best magic tricks websites and YouTube channels at the very end of this article.
But in the end, it all comes down to practice!
You can read as many guides, look at as many websites as you want, but you have to take written learning and apply it if you’re going to actually be a good, effective practicing magician.
But you do have to learn using those websites, guides, and the like!
There are plenty of classes you can take with regards to learning magic if you’re willing to shell out the money needed to take them. For instance, Penn & Teller have a Masterclass in learning magic and mastering the kinds of tricks that they’ve used over the years (obviously, a subscription is required to access these classes, but if you’re serious about learning magic and maybe some other topics, Masterclass is worth the price tag).
There are also resources online to utilize as far as learning how to perform magic.
There are plenty of recommendations regarding DVD’s to purchase, as well as other resources such as Youtube videos that can teach you how to perform magic tricks (some of them are even by some of the more famous magicians).
Another thing that is highly recommended as far as learning tricks – see the link above – is to find a mentor who can help guide you along as you learn.
This magician may even let you shadow him or her while performing (possibly by acting as the “plant” in the audience) so that you can learn on the job.
One of the most important things to always keep in mind, though, is to keep practicing and refining your abilities as a magician and to follow directions from those who have come before you.
Take the advice of Tommy Wonder in this article when he talks about misdirection.
For instance, he mentions that many beginning magicians make errors when trying to get audiences to focus on certain things and not others (i.e. telling the audience “don’t look at my left hand” rather than the more effective “look at my right hand”) and to always keep your attention on what you want to get the audience to look at by looking at it yourself.
But it’s fair to say that, in the beginning, you may not do this correctly right away and your actions may not be as effective as you want it to be.
But don’t give up!
Becoming a practicing magician, like any job worth doing, takes time and effort to master.
You may not do everything right the first time, but the most important thing to remember is that you can always build on your mistakes, reflect on what you did wrong and how you can improve it, and use that knowledge to be more effective next time.
Becoming a practicing magician who makes a living (or at least a very good side wage) takes time and effort; you won’t become good at it overnight, so keep working at it and improving your abilities and you will get there!
4. Build On What You’ve Learned
To build on the ideas at the end of the last section: it’s all about time and the process in becoming an effective practicing magician that people want to see!
Part of that time and process includes building on what you already know and becoming more advanced in your performance.
Indeed, when you are on your journey to becoming a magician and you’ve started learning some of the more basic tricks and have even gotten pretty good at them, you can’t stop there.
The fact is, no one wants to necessarily see a magic show by a magician who doesn’t know how to do anything more than the most basic tricks.
No one wants to see you pull a coin from behind someone’s ear, or make it disappear, or keep asking if “this is your card” over and over again.
No, the next step is to build on what you’ve learned and start increasing your repertoire of magical abilities to make a more engaging show when you perform. Indeed, there are many ways to increase your “bag of tricks” (pun intended) when you want to become more advanced, and many of them are piggybacking off of the ideas in the last section.
Buy books on practicing magic, attend shows – and if you can’t, as noted in the link above there are many YouTube video resources where you can watch magicians performing – and read up on how to take your magic game to the next level.
When it comes to becoming a more advanced magician, you have to also keep in mind Step #2 that I outlined earlier: you really have to pick one specific type of magic (mentalism, conjuring, escapology, etc.) if you want to get more advanced as a magician.
Not saying that you can only pick one style of magic to practice, but you have to have one area in which you are most proficient.
Nobody can become an expert at all the areas of magic, and even if you can, when you are looking to book shows (we’ll get to that in a bit) people aren’t really going to look for someone who does everything, because then how will they know exactly what you can do?
Again, there are many resources online that you can look at if you want to become more advanced at practicing magic, and all of them are helpful in their own way.
But again, it’s not enough to learn them by reading or watching videos; you have to actively practice them, whether as part of a show or with a mentor or with friends/family if you want to become a master at your chosen field of magic.
5. Market Yourself And Get Hired to Perform
So, you’ve picked a field, learned to entertain and become extremely proficient in your chosen area of magic.
There are many tricks you can now do, but there is one trick that no magician, no matter how good they are, can pull off via magic alone: getting people to book you to perform without networking!
Once you’ve mastered your abilities as a magician, you have to look for jobs, and in doing so you have to promote yourself and get your name out there.
There are websites you can look at that can help you get booked as a magician (the first link I provided also has recommendations for training schools and programs that can help you increase your skills and visibility).
As noted earlier, you can also look for a mentor that can help you get booked more by working with him or her and going from there.
You also have to realize that, at first, you’re not going to jump from amateur magician to someone like David Blaine, Derren Brown, or Criss Angel and start getting TV specials and making tons of money.
You have to start small and work your way up: you may have to start as a magician at kids’ birthday parties, weddings (I honestly had no idea before searching for magician jobs that wedding magicians were such a hot commodity!), or even business parties or retreats.
It’s not necessarily a glamorous way to start your career, but no one jumps directly into the limelight when practicing magic; it takes time to “make it” as a magician.
Indeed, even the most famous magicians take time to get their name out there and work their way up in the magic business.
David Blaine started by watching street performers and trying his hand at magic while also going to school and working as an actor.
He worked many smaller gigs before working his way up to ones where he could perform for celebrities such as Mike Tyson and Al Pacino; off the back of these performances, he was able to get his televised act going.
Similarly, Criss Angel started performing very young, working acts throughout his time in high school, but still had to tour constantly for years – and also, as I noted earlier, read all the books he could about how to perform magic – before finally making it to where he is today.
In essence, the best way to get booked is just to keep grinding, keep trying, and performing wherever you can in order to improve your craft, get noticed, and build your name up so that other people will try to book you and you can advance in your career.
While some people do “get lucky” and “make it” like so many actors and celebrities claim to do, the fact that is that these lucky “overnight successes” take years of work and trying to make themselves known before they really do “make it” in any field.
Magic is no different: had Criss Angel give up after high school, or had David Blaine given up on magic after his mother died, they likely would never be known.
They had to keep plugging away, and if you want to become a magician, so do you.
Where To Learn Magic Tricks?
I already mentioned several online resources where you can start learning magic.
There are some many websites and YouTube channels that I put together separate articles with the best online channels and sites you can learn magic tricks:
Make sure to check these lists to find the best online resources!
Learning magic and becoming a magician is an individual journey.
I put together this article with the intention to share my experiences and some of the best practices you can follow.
I hope that this guide will help you to understand how to become a magician; you don’t need to follow it word for word, just check the steps and decide what’s best for you!
Thanks for reading and good luck on your journey!