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Profile of Hood
I am a close up worker looking to go into large illusions where is a good place to start books dvd?
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Profile of ClintonMagus
First do a Café search, or browse the "Grand Illusion" topic. There are a lot of threads here that are exactly what you are looking for. Also, there are several books not about illusions, per se, but about the illusion "business". One is "Illusion Show Know-How" by Ken and Roberta Griffin. Another is "The Event Illusionist" by J.C. Sum. There are several others. Once you get an idea of what you are about to get into, check out Jim Steinmeyer's books first. They have many good illusion AND performance ideas. A good starting place for plans would be the Paul Osborne plans and books.

Many of the members of the Café are long-time illusionists, and I'm sure they can give you lots of sage advice.
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Jay Mahon
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Profile of Jay Mahon
The Event Illusionist is THE first must buy book.

Don't look at anything else.



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Profile of SpellbinderEntertainment
Start small,
If you're a close-up magician,
try moving to parlor, then stage, then illusions.
While linked, these areas of magic are all a different breed.
And before you invest in a lot of props you can't afford or use,
start easy with Creative Illusions pieces to see if they work for you.
If you find the venues, audiences, and use for these,
you can grow into the more heavy, labor intensive, assistant driven illusions.

My thoughts,
Ray Pierce
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Los Angeles, CA
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Profile of Ray Pierce
Wow... Walt had GREAT comments!

I don't believe that you start out doing illusions but rather evolve into them if that is your ultimate direction. The skills you learn in close-up, parlor, platform and stage will develop into the skills necessary to transcend the props as they get bigger. Otherwise you will be yet another box pusher with way too much money in props and no skills to support them.

I worked for years including performing professionally and even working in Vegas, Reno & Tahoe revue shows with a smaller act before adding one illusion. After that I would add an illusion only if it moved the act forward. I did years at 15-17 minutes with two illusions, then gradually moved up to a 25-30 minute spot when I could sustain that time.

I built up to an "illusion show" after 15 years of methodical growth and learning to sustain the smaller sets without the boxes. I'm so thankful I didn't have the money to just "buy" a show. I see that so many times now and it's typically awful. People without adequately developed skills trying things that are too big for them to handle.

Take your time and master the steps leading to illusions. Master controlling the audience, staging, movement and style on a larger stage before even thinking about adding larger props or you will follow the path of so many and have huge illusions sitting in storage and no where to use them.
Ray Pierce
Bill Hegbli
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Eternal Order
Fort Wayne, Indiana
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Profile of Bill Hegbli
On 2009-09-03 12:30, Ray Pierce wrote:
Master controlling the audience, staging, movement and style on a larger stage before even thinking about adding larger props or you will follow the path of so many and have huge illusions sitting in storage and no where to use them.

Ray, you are a very knowledgeable professional and I believe you have mentioned the what is the main components of an Illusionist. More then the previously stated comments. It takes the qualities of a showman to pull off an Illusion show. I do not think it is mandatory to start with the smaller tricks/equipment of an act. If you have the personality to capture an audience, this will make one more successful.

So much depends on the other assistants making you look like a miracle maker. That is one element, I cannot get around, and I can probably boil it down to one word, 'Control'. I have for years performed my banquet act with smaller props and I handle the props. With illusions, it is all up to the people I have entrusted to make it work for me. So I have found that transition to be very difficult if not possible at all.
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Eternal Order
Philadelphia, PA
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Profile of magic4u02
I agree that you need to first take baby steps before you run a marathon. as walt suggested, take smaller steps and start working parlor magic and then gradually build up to larger venues. this will start to give you the education you need. It will also help you to learn through not only trial and error but also through failure as well. I feel strongly that through failure one can and does find success.

When it is time to jump to getting an illusion, first ask yourself questions such as transportation, storing, rehearsing and venue and markets you work. All of these play into what to get. To many magicians buy and illusion and then realize they can;t transport it, they have no place to rehearse, it needs an assistant they do not have and they do not have venues they can perform it in. research it first.

Then stick first with the classics. The classic illusions are classics for a reason. They WORK well. Some classic style illusions would be Sub Trunk or Sword basket etc. These will help you to learn the craft and art of illusion performing.

Hope this helps.

Kyle Peron


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Sam Sandler
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Profile of Sam Sandler
Although Kyle makes soem great points as well as ray and walt I msut point out that the performer alsp makes a big portion of what is done on stage.

meaning if they have the understanding of "control" then let them get an illusion and yes you need to think through all aspects of getting an illusion before purchase as kyle mentioned transport etc, but I do not agree that you need to stick to the classics. Ihave seen many magicians butcher the classics therefore its not a matter of starting there but rather thinking through the routine and then the willingness to rehearse until it becomes second nature.

you should be able to do the illusion with out any thought this requires hours upon hours of practice and then perfecting it through dozens if not hundreds of performances. the point here is if you are going to get an illusion you need to be willing to put the time in to present it correctly and in a way that will be entertaining to an audience. don't jsut buy an illusion and perform it the way so and so does work up a rotine that is yours.

sub trunk and sword basket are great but there are many options out there these days and althought I love my subtrunk and will never stop performing it I do nto think it has to be your first ilusion. as mentioned above read books on ilusions and staging and look around at all the ilusions available and decide what fits your style and your show as well as your budget.

as ray pointed out it rreally should "move" your show forward. I like that illustration.

good luck

sam sandler- America's only full-time DEAF Illusionist
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New Jersey
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Profile of ERIC
I can't believe that nobody here has suggested that you get a job with an established local illusionist. Learn while doing. Play the grunt FIRST and see if this is really what you want to do.

Plus you will also learn what it means to be an assistant that is counted on, and that in turn will teach you what to look for if and when you get your own show, and trust me, NOBODY does illusion shows by themselves. It will also give you an appreciation for your assistants when you get them.

Many think it is so cool to be THE GUY, but have absolutely no idea of what this type of show really involves. Both financially and physically. Run a couple of tons of equipment in and out for a few months and you look at things differently.

There are many here who I know will agree with what I am saying.

After you have done this for a while and developed some knowledge, then you can decide if you want to make the investments of time and monies or just stick to a deck of cards.

You don't buy a large company and walk into the president's office and expect it to do good unless you have first worked IN THAT COMPANY or one like it, and KNOW what is needed. Start at the bottom and work up. Learn all you can along the way.

I do not want to discourage you, just make you think about this and maybe make you into a real showman instead of a box pusher. Too many who have been able to spend the money think they can just go out and do it.

I hope you take these ramblings to heart and I also hope that some of you here would add to these thoughts and maybe make it a little clearer than I.
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Profile of jcsum
Great advice here!

There are really two aspects of getting started into illusions. The first is the development/ choice of your first illusions and the logistical factors that come with adding illusions into your show (transport, crew, stage size, etc)

The other is the business of doing illusions commercially. Of course, if you are intending to do this for fun or non profit, this does not apply. You have to decide if you are doing this at a commerical or non commercial level.

For the former, my suggestion would be:

Basic and practical considerations when choosing your first illusion include:

- The illusion must complement your performing style and character
- Your performing venue & conditions - Angles, sightlines, audience distance
- Your mode of transportation - car, MPV, van, lorry, public transport
- Your illusion budget
- Your support crew - availability of illusion assistant(s), stage hands, secret assistants

Here are some of the most common first illusions that many contemporary illusionists launched their careers with:

- The Sword Basket
- Sub Trunk
- Zig Zag Girl
- Broom Suspension

It is no surprise why these illusions are so common because they are relatively inexpensive, play well and all can pack flat and are reasonably lightweight. While more expensive than the four illusions listed, Gunther Puchinger's 'Mini Kube Zag' and Jim Steinmeyer's 'Modern Art' are probably the most commonly performed modern illusions.

If you do intend to purchase or build any one of these illusions I suggest doing so only if you have a radically different and enhanced presentation or variation. Because of their commonality and the fact that they are featured in over hundreds, if not thousands, of illusionist's acts, many in your audience may have seen the illusion before. Though it is not crucial to the development of your magic career, since this is after all your first illusion, it will not hurt to present the illusion differently.

Here are some other first-illusion tips and resources to consider:

Paul Osborne's books are a great place to start with illusions that you can build or have built. Although, the designs may be a bit dated, they offer a decent foundation for building illusions.

Andrew Mayne's 'Solo X' details several practical illusions for the one-person illusion. Some of Mayne's illusion booklets and other books are also popular as well as his new DVD.

If you are performing in a theater-type setting, you might have some luck with Black Art illusions. Check out Gary Darwin's book 'Inexpensive Illusions' for tons of ideas on Black Art routines and other inexpensive illusions. While good illusions can be created by Black Art, you have to have strict control of lighting and the staging to create a deceptive illusion. Also, checkout Don Drake's 'Black Art Breakthroughs' for more info on this subject.

Some inexpensive illusions on the market include, the ‘Chair Suspension’ and the ‘Tube & Spear’ Illusion. The ‘Ring Illusion’ is quite uncommon and packs small. It is a substitution effect and quite unique. Paul Daniels performed it as an escape of the girl (instead of an exchange) and the girl had changed her costume when the curtain dropped.

Don't get short (in terms of performance time duration) illusions as your first and only illusion. If you are performing your first illusion, it will likely be the closer for your show so it has to have a substantial effect in content and duration.

Appearance illusions of your assistant who has been helping you throughout your show also does not make ideal illusions. Quick productions like a 'Flash Appearance', 'Fire Cage' or 'Shadow Box' are not good starting illusions as well.

Though not major illusions, illusionettes like ‘Dagger Head Chest’, 'Head Twister', 'Arm/ Head Chopper' are time-tested favourites that are affordable.

Hope this helps!

J C Sum

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