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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » Specialisation (5 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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asif
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Hi friends, here's a question to discuss. Is it good to specialise on a particular branch of magic or to have a command in each and every category.
Cheers
Azreal
jimgerrish
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East Orange, NJ
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Yes.
danaruns
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The City of Angels
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I agree.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
Stanyon
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Landrum, S.C. by way of Chicago
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The possibilities are endless!

Cheers! Smile
Stanyon

aka Steve Taylor

"Every move a move!"

"If you've enjoyed my performance half as much as I've enjoyed performing for you, then you've enjoyed it twice as much as me!"
Mr. Woolery
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Do you want to be a Jack of all trades or a Master of one? Neither is truly a better path, but one may be more satisfying to you than the other. Some people only have interest in card magic. Not my scene, but there's nothing wrong with it at all. Some people like to do some of everything. This may mean rather eclectic shows, but that's okay, too.

My only real advice is that magic is a performance art. It is meant to entertain. Whatever your focus, try to figure out how to entertain people other than just yourself.

-Patrick
Vater Araignee
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MI
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What ever stile you need to get to your style.
"Good enough never is." - Vater Araignee
stevefaulkner
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I suggest to follow your passion. Though card magic is my preference, it’s helped my performing a great deal working on other areas. For example, the Cups and Balls taught me a great deal about misdirection.

If you’re planning on performing close-up professionally, I would suggest having some variety, as I meet people that just fall over them selves when they see the Crazy Man’s Handcuffs, but are less into card stuff. (How dare they!) Always good to have something for everyone, while still spending most of your time on the magic that really floats your boat.
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IBM UK Close-up champion 2013
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danaruns
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I'm a believer in having a broad base of knowledge, upon which specialization is built. In order to be a good magician, imho, one has to have a broad foundation in the art, and a functional understanding of the mechanics and art of all magic disciplines. Then, having a good foundation, one can specialize. Much like medical school, they teach a broad medical foundation, with specialization following. Magic should be learned the same way, imho, and then decide if you want to be a generalist or a specialist, and if specializing, in what area.

I also believe that if you are a generalist you will never be a special, unique individual, but will always remain a fungible commodity. Finding and carving out a niche is where identity and brand are made. No one would ever consider Mac King, Dan Sperry, Bebel, Penn & Teller, Juan Tamariz, Rob Zabrecky, Shimada, and Pop Haydn to be interchangeable. They have unique identities, formulated on a base of specialization and character. Now, Dan Sperry will never be hired for a kid's birthday party. But even though he loses that gig, he creates his own market and gets paid more than the generic magician. And people remember him as an individual, not as "that magician" at a particular event.

If you're a generalist, you're "just a magician," and you will forever be thought of as little more than a price point for generic entertainment, competing in a race to the bottom with those billing themselves as the least expensive alternative. Gig Salad is filled with generalists. They appeal to people looking for "a magician." IMHO, you don't want to be found by someone looking for "a magician," you want to be found by someone looking for YOU. And that means not only specializing in discipline, but also in character.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
Dr Rick
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Quote:
On Jul 15, 2018, danaruns wrote:
I'm a believer in having a broad base of knowledge, upon which specialization is built. In order to be a good magician, imho, one has to have a broad foundation in the art, and a functional understanding of the mechanics and art of all magic disciplines. Then, having a good foundation, one can specialize. Much like medical school, they teach a broad medical foundation, with specialization following. Magic should be learned the same way, imho, and then decide if you want to be a generalist or a specialist, and if specializing, in what area.

I also believe that if you are a generalist you will never be a special, unique individual, but will always remain a fungible commodity. Finding and carving out a niche is where identity and brand are made. No one would ever consider Mac King, Dan Sperry, Bebel, Penn & Teller, Juan Tamariz, Rob Zabrecky, Shimada, and Pop Haydn to be interchangeable. They have unique identities, formulated on a base of specialization and character. Now, Dan Sperry will never be hired for a kid's birthday party. But even though he loses that gig, he creates his own market and gets paid more than the generic magician. And people remember him as an individual, not as "that magician" at a particular event.

If you're a generalist, you're "just a magician," and you will forever be thought of as little more than a price point for generic entertainment, competing in a race to the bottom with those billing themselves as the least expensive alternative. Gig Salad is filled with generalists. They appeal to people looking for "a magician." IMHO, you don't want to be found by someone looking for "a magician," you want to be found by someone looking for YOU. And that means not only specializing in discipline, but also in character.



Hi Danaruns

Big fan of your posts. To dig deeper in your philosophy do you think the character is the specialisation? P&T do coins, cards, stage illusion, gross/out. Pop does the old school cons but also cards etc so I'd say he's a generilist but unique because of style.

I'll NEVER be a pro (just a hobbyist starting in my 40s for my own entertainment) but interested in your take

Rick
Cub Sines
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As a hobbyist I would say that is doesn't matter if you specialize or not, but then again I found myself being "specialized" at close up magic. Why? Because I think that magic is at it's strongest when performed with everyday objects at close range, where you "can't" hide anything...

So you really have to think how would you like to specialize: street, stage, table hopping, TV/YouTube etc. Or would you like to specialize specifically on cards, coins, soap bubbles, mentalism etc. And if you want to combine or not...

I do magic with cards, coins, cans, bills, sunglasses, post-it notes etc. but I never specialized any of those, I specialized in close-up/street magic.
WitchDocChris
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I agree with what Danaruns said.

I think one should study as much as possible, to have as wide a base as possible of general knowledge, and use that knowledge to create performances and presentations that suit the character one has developed.

To that end, I also think that yes, it is the character that is the specialization.

All of the successful magicians I can think of had distinct characters. Many of them perform the same tricks, but they each have their own presentations, defined by the characters they present. That character is who people hire (as Danaruns already stated).

So really, I'm just agreeing with others here - define your character, personalize your presentations - that should be your specialization.
Christopher
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asif
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Talking about the character here, I have been seriously into magic for only 1.5 years, still am confused the character I'm portraying. Like pulling from different directions.Does it take time,and is there something off stage I can do?
Azreal
WitchDocChris
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Yes it does take time. Character development is an ongoing process in my opinion.

The short version is deciding what powers you want to portray, and working on your presentations until you are accurately portraying those powers. Chances are the character you start with will not at all be the character you are portraying within a fairly short period once you get on stage and start working out the kinks. I did write a humble offering to this subject, called Boffo, available in PDF format on Ellusionist.com.
Christopher
Witch Doctor

Psycho Seance book: https://tinyurl.com/y873bbr4
DaveGripenwaldt
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I second Dana's excellent answer. For me the process has been played out that way...wide knowledge base to areas of magic I prefer to a persona I can work within.

And the knowledge base part is is so key because the magic's general principles, fekes and gaffs are applicable across wildly divergent areas of magic. A Square Circle production teaches you about the Black Art principle and later on you are going, "How can I make it look like there is a hole punched in this dollar bill? Hmmmmm...what if the bill was sitting on a black wallet....".

Thinking outside the box is easier when that box full of a lot of tools in the first place.
funsway
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old things in new ways - new things in old ways
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If you desire to make a living from performing "mystic arts" then you need something to market. To that end, some specialization is essential -
be it character, presentation or restricted audience. Rarely is focusing on a restrictive set of props a good idea. Cardini did not just do cards.
So, there is a difference between what you market yourself as, and your ability to entertain/amaze diverse audiences - and adapt to new expectations.
Dick Osland specialized in school performances, but is certainly a generalist within this discussion. McBride is all over the place in effect selection.

Thus, I can agree with what Danaruns offers above, while noting that it applies to those desiring to market themselves as entertainers. There are other options.

If one desires to be able to astonish and leave a memory of "must be magic" for a whole world of possible settings and conditions, then
one must be a generalist. The ability to perform with found objects and adapt the effect and story to a new setting is a fine goal also. Using magic effects in a classroom does not work if you are attempting to entertain kids. or even if you announce you are a magician. If you do desire to perform in any setting, no one will want to hear, "I am a coin specialist and did not bring my stuff."

The catch is that one should only perform effects one has mastered (whatever that means to you). Generalist should not be measured by the size of your suitcase or garage. Knowing a huge number of "tricks" just means you are not specializing in magic at all.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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debjit
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Yes I agree with everyone saying that you need to specialize. It's great to know a lot of tricks if you're a hobbyist and perform mainly for friends and family as you have to keep performing fresh material for them.
But if you perform professionally, a spectator will get to see your magic only a few times so you need to show them your BEST stuff. And to show your best stuff, you need to specialize in them. Cheers!
asif
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Thanks Debjit, will keep your comments in mind.
Vitas White
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It really depends on where you want to go with your magic. If you are simply a hobbyist, it's always fun to learn all sorts of tricks from all different branches. However, professional performing artists often specialize in one branch, which lets you stand out amongst other new magicians. Magic is a beautiful and dying art form, but it requires a ton of practice. Sometimes trying to learn different branches at once can be overwhelming, and it can be hard to solidify your techniques. In the end, it's up to you and how confident you feel about your practice!
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it now. Boldness has genius, power, and magic at its core.
magicianbrady
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Quote:
On Aug 17, 2018, Vitas White wrote:
Magic is a beautiful and dying art form.


Why do you think magic is a dying art form? Nowadays there's always magic shows airing on TV, magic videos going viral on the internet, magicians selling out big theaters... I think magic is more alive than its ever been.
Vitas White
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Quote:
On Aug 19, 2018, magicianbrady wrote:
Quote:
On Aug 17, 2018, Vitas White wrote:
Magic is a beautiful and dying art form.


Why do you think magic is a dying art form? Nowadays there's always magic shows airing on TV, magic videos going viral on the internet, magicians selling out big theaters... I think magic is more alive than its ever been.


I agree, Magic is definitely not in a spot. To me it just feels like more of a fad with people, plenty of people uploading tutorials to YouTube, Instagram vids, etc. I miss the days where seeing a good magic effect was awe inspiring and relatively rare. Don’t get me wrong, I love the way things are going. It’s just a new age of magic.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it now. Boldness has genius, power, and magic at its core.
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