Cardistry as a Career?

Jan 3, 2012
Well, I have always wanted to start a little discussion on this topic. Do you think Cardistry or Card Flourishing can become more then just a hobby? Where do you guys see the future of the art form going? Do you see it being just a media based art/hobby where people only post videos and the occasional downloads? Or can you see lectures,decks of cards made specifically for cardistry, conventions, traveling, ect in the future?

In my own opinion, just like any type of skill based hobby, it seems as if sponsorships take place. Skateboarding, dance, yoyo-ing, or whatever eventually lead to people traveling, teaching and representing companies for that said art form. Maybe in the future, magic conventions will have more card flourishing or maybe the first cardistry convention? Who knows..

Whats your opinion?


Elite Member
Apr 7, 2012
Dan and Dave showed that Cardistry has some potential in advertising, with their work in a Toshiba commercial. Here's a link to that if anyone is curious.

The applications in the community itself are evident, considering that cardistry is largely esoteric and most of the money comes from DVDs and playing cards. Do I think that cardistry can potentially make money, of course. Do I think that cardistry is necessarily "career material", not so much. Success in the cardistry community is almost completely reliant on the cardist's image. Magicians don't necessarily need to worry about having a reputation in the magic community because they can get along just fine by themselves.

If you hire dancers for a party, it's because you want to liven up the event and/or show the people something entertaining/memorable. Plus, a party is a perfect time and location for a dancer. The closest thing I can think of to hiring a cardist for a party, would be hiring a juggler. Jugglers are better for larger events purely because the act is bigger. Cardistry is not only smaller, but a bit more abstract.

Say you don't want to be a commercially successful flourisher, in the sense that you don't want to get involved with spectators. I think that capitalizing your material through the community is obviously a possibility, but it has its limits. Conventions are definitely an idea, and I personally would love to see a dedicated flourishing convention. I think every flourisher wants to meet other flourishers, its an obvious thing to want. If one were to get the help from say Dan and Dave or Theory 11, then I think you'd have a fairly profitable, cardistry related idea. But again, this isn't "career material" in my mind, these are just ideas.

So in conclusion, I just don't know if flourishing is right for a career. I can't think of a place where it really "belongs" other than with other flourishers. Anywho those are just my thoughts, awesome question.


Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
There are definitely challenges to the idea of creating a career out of flourishing. It's esoteric. No one that isn't educated in flourishing will really understand what it takes to be a flourisher. Therefore, the budding flourisher has to create an interesting performance while keeping in mind that subtle differences won't be noticed.

I won't say this is impossible, but it will be challenging and I definitely wouldn't recommend trying to do this as your sole income right off the bat. What it will take is basically carving out a niche that only you can fill. It will take time and dedication. You will basically have to point out the niche, then convince people that they need you to fill it or their event/lives will be incomplete.

I've seen people make good money off some bizarre performances. Well, ok, they scrape by. But it's possible. It really comes down to, as I said, dedication and drive.
Sep 2, 2007
I imagine it's different depending on where you live in the world, but in the UK there's a fairly strong variety scene. I say "fairly strong" as I don't think there are many millionaire variety performers but there are certainly quite a few people who make a living out of juggling, burlesque, ventriloquism, clowning, mime, etc. So, if you created a strong, well-structured act that played big enough for audiences of around fifty people, there would be no barrier to trying to get on the variety circuit, maybe doing some festivals, cabaret nights and perhaps some corporate work. I don't really think it would be scalable much bigger than that, though. I can't imagine how a cardist would put together an hour-long show, or fill a thousand seat theatre as a headline act. Making a living from it, though, that's certainly possible.

Vinnie C.

cardistry moderator / t11
Aug 31, 2007
Los Angeles, CA
Short answer is yes, flourishing can absolutely be a career, but not in the same way magic would be.

More than likely a distinct minority of your income as a flourisher would come from performing - unless you had assembled a highly layperson-entertaining sort of act. Money would come primarily from others in the same community, looking to learn, perfect or participate, and you providing them with ways or outlets to do so.

As mentioned above, there is also a market for doing commercials and the like, but it is also small.

Jan 11, 2013
As a career outside of the flourishing world, not impossible but very difficult. The reason Dan and Dave make good money out of it outside the world of flourishing, with things like adverts, tv appearances ect is because they were the ones who brought it into the spotlight first. Unfortunately (and im not talking about actual moves here) things haven't moved forward. When you see a flourishing video they are all the same, someone standing in front of a camera, with 'cool' music playing in the background and cards and hands flying all over the place. If there is no originality you will get lost in a crowd. Lay people don't care what moves your doing, after seeing a couple of flourishes presented the same way, they will get bored and lose interest, unless your doing something different to keep them interested and entertained. In any industry the people who are successful and have a good career, are those who are original, different and stand out.
Sep 1, 2007
Do you think Cardistry or Card Flourishing can become more then just a hobby? Where do you guys see the future of the art form going?

Honestly? I see it getting worse before it gets better. Too many guys just spin cards in their bedrooms to the same generic music, never once showing their faces or performing to a live person or audience. The art is extremely esoteric because very little effort is being expended to get it out in front of the public. Earlier this year, I put out feelers everywhere I could to recruit manipulation artists in the Pittsburgh area for a variety show and didn't get a single response. Not one. So either there are none living in Pennsylvania or not a single one of them has the slightest interest in getting in front of a crowd.

I'm not going to be the one to change this. It's all on you guys.
Sep 2, 2013
I think in order to make a career out of this, you need to be EXTRAORDINARILY creative enough to come up with complex moves that are both hard to figure out AND stylish AND original to sell. Even then, you have to overprice the move and no one would end up getting it. It was easier in the beginning for D&D (as slicksleights said) because they're some of the pioneers. As many people here said, cardistry is esoteric. The only people cardistry really impresses are us, not laymen. We're the only ones who care, really. They think it's cool but simple ribbon spreads and springs are what actually excite them.
Apr 26, 2013
A career in playing card manipulation (as I call it) can definitely be done. As far as I can tell, Jerry Cestkowski is a full-time performer and was even before his DVDs or book. On one DVD, there is some footage of him performing live on stage. Also, from what I know, De'vo does or did make money performing - though he seems to have been focusing on creating comic book decks now. The difficulty for anyone new wanting to make a career is partly due to how few examples there are. I've never seen an actual card manipulation show by anyone live or in video. There seems to be a great deal of secrecy around original ideas. I'm also a juggler, and the juggling community is much more open. Nobody claims ownership of a trick even if they do it first. But if you do someone's routine...that's another story.

A playing card manipulation show would probably be similar to a juggling show. The easiest and less skill-dependent version of which would be to do a lot of talking (often comedy) and build up to tricks. Also, audience participation. I.E. showmanship. On the other hand, my favorite juggler - Wes Peden - will do an hour long show to music with a slew of completely original tricks.

I currently live in Bellingham, WA where there is a strong circus community. After doing card manipulation for the better part of 10 years, I finally performed live on stage about 5 times now in the last few months. Most of these were at a monthly variety show where I did 5 minutes of manipulation to music. However, my first ever paid performance was at a very small local school (35 kids) where I did about 15 minutes. This included a few minutes in the beginning where I talked and introduced the concept of card manipulation...then several minutes of manipulation set to music that climaxed with juggling cards...and then the organizer allowed a brief Q&A with the audience. My next goal is to perform at Farmer's Markets much like magicians or jugglers might.
Jul 24, 2014
There are only two ways I can imagine that you could make an average living off of cardistry. The first is if you had your own website/company that created cards for flourishing (much like Dan and Dave have done). The second is if you were to be hired by a large part of the magic community, such as Theory11 or Ellusionist, specifically to create cardistry and release it on their platform.
{[{ searchResultsCount }]} Results