Creating New Magic

Posted by Jonathan Bayme on 20 May 2013

Guys like Daniel Garcia, Paul Harris, and Bizzaro think up amazing new tricks faster than the rest of us can even learn ‘em.

Calen Morelli invented a new trick every single day, for 177 days in a row.  How is that possible? How do magic inventors think up new illusions?

There are 3 different ways.

1) Start with the effect, worry about method later. Let’s say you’re working on a TV commercial for an exotic pet store. You decide that you want to make a chameleon appear in a shoebox. Boom—that’s your trick: The Appearing Chameleon. Now you just have to figure out how to make it happen. There are only so many ways. You can secretly load the chameleon into the box or you can begin with the chameleon inside the box, obscured in some manner—perhaps by an extra cardboard flap. So figure out how to secretly remove the flap and go from there.

2) Start with the method, build the effect around it. Stare at the chameleon and ask yourself, “What traits does this thing have that could be exploited for magical purposes?” Before long, it’ll come to you: If given enough time, a chameleon changes color. So put the chameleon in the shoebox with, say, an orange piece of paper on the bottom. Give the lizard time to adjust. When you open the lid, the chameleon will blend into the orange background. Invisible. Close the box, crack open the lid, reach inside and remove the paper. Then open the box again, before the chameleon has time to adjust from orange to beige.

3) Start with a trick you already know, adapt it to your specific need. You don’t know how to make a chameleon appear in a box, but you do know how to make a rabbit appear in a hat: A table load steal. Simply substitute the hat for the box and the rabbit for the chameleon, and you’ll be in business.

If you tried to create magic in the past and you failed, I bet you only used one of these three techniques. Why not go ahead and give the other two a chance?

Oh, and if you can think of a fourth way to think up a new trick, I’d love to hear about it. Tell me all about it in the comments below.

Rick Lax is a theory11 artist and creator of VertigoDetachHighRiseReCord, and Filter. Check out his work on theory11 and on The Wire, with his latest release Soul Paper.