The Infinite Road To Mastering Magic

There is no end to the work required to put on your best magic performance.

You rocked the house!

As the enthusiastically sustained applause finally slows you nod your head in acknowledgment, and a genuine smile spreads across your lips. You did it! You just achieved a personal best performance of your new magic routine.

The audience witnessed you on stage presenting this theatrical miracle with a grace that made it all seem so effortlessly spontaneous. That is the greatest illusion of it all, hiding the amount of work which goes into a single performance. If only they knew!

Like an iceberg poking above the ocean, the bulk of the effort remains out of sight. How much work did it take? Let’s rewind the timeline.

The Performance

To step in front of a live audience with poise and confidence does not come naturally. It’s the sum total of a lifetime of on-stage experience which allows you to be calm, focused, and work at your best.

Your props were carefully set, and you arrived early to familiarize yourself with the performance space, making a few tweaks, based on your experience, to suit the situation.

The Production

The sound system was tuned-up for the audience can hear you clearly, with no risk of feedback issues which would torpedo your show. The lighting was hung and focused so the audience can see your every move.

The venue must be chosen with care, and prepared for the audience to be happy, comfortable, and ready to see a great show.

The Promotion

Your performance relies on a live audience to show up in numbers, which only happens through effective promotion. Either selling a whole lot of tickets to a show, or getting booked into a sold-out event. This requires a lot of hustle.

The opportunity to perform is based on a foundation of promotion and marketing to position yourself as a qualified, competent professional. The booker and the audience will be primed to expect a high quality show, and their response will be amplified.

The Practice

Your reputation, and the ability to fulfill those expectations, is based on repetition. You have performed, rehearsed, and practiced to achieve a level of unconscious competence.

Every rehearsal, workshop, and performance has been used as an opportunity to grow through experience and seeking feedback. Working with directors, or other trusted collaborators, to gain perspective from beyond yourself.

The Props

Your props have been built/acquired to be a tailored match for your style and aesthetic image.

Before the final show-ready prop was built, there were multiple prototypes and iterations along the way, fixing little problems and improving with each performance.

The Preparation

Before investing in props, your presentation was scripted, or at least sketched out, to make it a presentable piece with a core idea to connect with your audience.

Your words are paired with the physical actions, which means figuring out a practical working method to achieve the desired effect. You may need to train for new physical skills, or engineer new mechanical contraptions.

Plenty of research helps you to understand what the magical literature has to offer around your idea, seeking out variations and existing solutions.

The Plan

None of this happens until you express your intent or set a goal to accomplish what you have in mind. This critical choice separates the dreamers from the doers.

Focused intent begins by recognizing an idea which is worthy of all your investment and effort, and inspires you to take action on it.

The Provenance

Magic routines do not form in a vacuum. You spend a large amount of time reading magic books, watching videos, and live performances scouring for new inspiration and ideas. Your original idea comes because you are paying attention to the world around you.

All this had to happen before your shining moment on stage. Which brings me to…

The Point

Magic is hard. Magic is complicated. There is a lot involved in a single performance, and I didn’t even get into the details. Some people call themselves a “master magician” with a straight face*, as if they have single-handedly conquered this mountain.

I will forever identify as a “magician in progress” because I look at this list as an infinite fractal. Each section, upon closer study, reveals ever more to be learned. The further you go, the deeper it gets. You can never master everything about the performance of magic.

Infinite fractal

Every magician with a desire to perform is working their way through the process. It’s a heckuva lot of work, and it takes a long time. We tend to compare ourselves, and other magicians, as if we’re all on the same playing field. However, with this many variables, even a small difference in access to resources are amplified in our ability to make progress. I respect the effort, regardless of the result.

I admit to being a stubborn do-it-yourselfer in most of my life, and I try to tackle far more of these things alone than I ought to. I’d be farther along my journey if I sought out help in more of these areas to balance my weakness. Personally, I love the opportunity to share my own lessons learned along the way. At the same time, when I see others succeeding where I struggle, I curse my own weakness instead of asking for help. Maybe, just maybe, It might make more sense for us to be trading our strengths and helping each other along the way.

I say success is found in the journey, not the destination. That performance where you rock the house is not really a singular event which does or does not happen. Personally, a successful performance for me is one in which I find fewer faults than normal. It’s all shades of gray, and the degree to which you rock will generally increase as you go and grow as a magician.

* I understand “Master Magician" is sometimes used as a catchy marketing tagline, but some folks seemed to have forgotten; “never believe your own press.”

Published: August 2, 2021

Access: Public



Ryan, in my eyes you are a winner. Maybe not in the accepted way of being the top, but in your very modest approach to all you do and share. You are MY gold medalist.


Thanks Bernie... there is NOBODY better than ME at being MODEST! :) I appreciate your note of encouragement, and I'm happy to hear I'm not the only one who appreciates a little modesty in the show-biz world.


Great wisdom, Ryan! I was wondering if you could speak to what local rings could do to help their members. Our ring exists to just waste time talking about peripheral things and doing tricks with no feedback. I’ve brought this up a number of times, but the older members don’t seem to want to hear it. Any ideas?


I know the feeling of a club meeting like this. I'm not sure what to do about individuals reluctant to change. My thinking is "be the change you wish to see in the world." While it can be exhausting, the keeners need to bring EXTRA energy and enthusiasm to the meetings, and it might start to warm up the room. Cultural change in an organization is a slow process. It sounds like a club where no potential new member would want to stick around.

Skip Way writes a regular article in the Linking Ring magazine and is a wealth of ideas for adding interest to Ring meetings. I also have a project idea on the backburner which aims to inspire individual magicians on a path to personal growth.

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