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 even performing someone else’s routine. 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 lack depth. 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? Or do you look to some of the great magicians of the past? Many magicians fail to seek other sources of inspiration to set them apart from other magicians.
One way to do this is to 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 creative effort to achieve. In my opinion, one thing that cannot be taught is creativity. But perhaps I can help put creative thinking into perspective for you. Most of us consider magic to be an art form. 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 photography. I personally watch a lot of movies. I love the way movies convey a story or message through words and images. I love the way movies can alter my emotional state. There are many movies that, by the end, make me reflect the same way I want my audiences to 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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