Finding Inspiration Outside of Magic

It is no secret that many of us have too often seen multiple magic shows with performers reciting the same jokes with the same cliché lines or (the dreaded) performing a piece with someone else’s routine.  We know that this exists today in magic. We often make mention of how troublesome it is to go to a magic convention and see every act in the competition perform another card manipulation act or another linking ring act the same way as it is currently being performed by so many other magicians. Many of us out there become so enthralled in magic, and the magic community, that we often forget that there are other great sources to find inspiration for things like our “magical premises” and our style.  It is very easy to become so wrapped up in our “magical” way of thinking that our shows and performances often suffer. So my question to you is what are your sources of inspiration?  What is it that inspires you?

Are you only modeling your style after the contemporary stars in magic? If so, you should consider that this is not going to advance your career.

I will admit that I, in my younger and more vulnerable years, was heavily inspired by no one other than David Copperfield. His name alone possessed magic and I could recite any piece from his show. But there comes a time when we must outgrow that phase and find a style that is unique to us. For those of you out there who have heard this mentioned before and are wondering how to achieve this, it is to you I speak.

First, take things you do that are non-magic related. Maybe you play an instrument or read books or like to fish. It can be any number of things but finding other interests that you have will allow you to draw from those sources and develop a framework for your magic.


For example I enjoy traveling so I wrote a story for Richard Sanders’ Extreme Burn about going to foreign countries, I tell this all while turning magazine papers into foreign money. But had I not drawn from my experiences of traveling, then the story would have almost certainly been about how amazing I am that “with a wave of the hand” I can turn one dollar bills into $20’s and $100’s.

It is not quite this simple however. This is something that will take conscious effort to achieve.  In my opinion, one thing that cannot be taught is creativity. But perhaps I can help put thinking creatively into perspective for you. We all consider magic to be an art form, right?  One of the best ways to inspire your art is to have other mediums of art as your creative sources.  Perhaps you enjoy movies or books or plays.  I personally watch a lot of movies.  I love the way movies convey a story or message through words and images. There are many movies that, by the end, make me reflect on the exact message I want my audience’s to have after they see me perform. As a result, I am constantly drawing on elements and themes from movies, both current and old, to bring into my magic routines. Sometimes some of the best ideas for a routine exist in sources that are not referenced in today’s culture. I never would have expected to get an idea for a rope routine from a 1945 silent film that I only saw because of my interest in surrealism.  But it is these two interests, film and surrealist art, that have inspired almost all of my routines now.  So if you want to begin finding your own original style, first consider looking for inspiration in your interests outside of magic.

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