Magic and Intelligence

Recently a close adult friend saw me constantly fiddling with cards. Its a natural instinct for me at this point and it helps me retain focus. She said, "your smarter than those cards. You shouldn't waste your time with cards. You really dont want to pursue this. You can do something more constructive in building a career." I take card magic with passion. To have someone imply that cards and intelligence is an antonym, struck me. Do cards have a bad reputation? How do you think cards and intelligence correlate? Why do you think cards are often referred to mischief, and corruption? Thanks.


Hey Barustien,
Just before I start, your mum is right on one point, it is very hard to be a full time magician that is why I also advise to take magic as a passion. Paranthesis closed.
Cards have a bad reputation because they are associated to gambling games. This comes from Poker, Black Jack, Baccara... Those games destroyed entire lifes and still are destroying entire lives.
To show that card and "intelligence" correlate, I can advise you to write a kind of diary with all your new ideas of sleights and tricks every week or day. Also, you can read books (books make you look smart). Your mother will then see how much you are involved in what you do.
Oct 20, 2008
Austin, TX area
As an adult, almost every performer I know still has a day job.

Be ready to do both. If you are passionate about magic then stick with it. Just be ready to have one way to support yourself while you have the magic to chase after. Even some of my "recognized" performing friends, across all kinds of performances, still have to pay their bills through other means. This is especially so in their early days.

So, be ready to do both. That's all.

As far as miscreants? Throwing lives away? For whatever reason, the magicians I know of landed much better day jobs than the other performers. To be fair, they did better at being "normal" people than most of the laymen I grew up with. Don't get me wrong: I know a lot of very happy people who get on stage to perform a lot of very different material. It's just that the magicians are more prone to have a comfortable chair in a climate-controlled workplace with regular office hours, while the drummer is praying every week that his job in retail won't conflict with his gig next Saturday night.


Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
There's more to magic than cards.

The first thing I would say is that having a hobby will often help one excel in, for lack of a better term, 'normal' life. People who focus 100% on school or work are not healthy and generally not very happy. They also have a tendency to be overly focused an unable to innovate. Whereas those with hobbies have other things to occupy their mind, which allows their brain to process things differently and approach problems differently, which allows them to succeed in more general terms. Not to mention that if you do have a day job, then any money you get through performance is just a bonus.

Also, having unusual hobbies makes you stand out to employers, which can help you get a job if your qualifications are similar to someone else who is also applying. My girlfriend loves to talk about a friend of hers who got a job because he's really good at whistling.

Performances, by necessity, teaches one to be calm under pressure and handle large crowds with ease. Like meetings and presentations.

I think what's really going on here is that she cannot see how you could make a living with those cards, so she assumes you can't. So either show her how you plan to do so, or show her that it won't interfere with your ability to do so.

This also kind of depends on where you are in life. If you're broke, unemployed, and not really making any progress toward making a living from performance, then she's right in a way. Something needs to change.

I think there is an association between cards and gambling, and criminals are often seen as stupid (unless they are the mastermind). However, the association she may be making may be entirely different. That would be that magic is stupid, which is one that is held by many. This association stems from how many truly bad magicians there are in the world, forcing their terrible performances on unwilling audiences.
Feb 4, 2008
That is really a funny perception. I suppose anyone who gets obsessed with a hobby could be accused of wasting their potential. Ironically though, of all the hobbies I can think of, magic has by far the highest proportion of practitioners who leverage their hobby into making money. My step mom, Quilter, thousands of dollars spent on machines, fancy fabrics, and books on quilting patterns. Never made a dime off of it. My Dad, model railroader. He is seriously(and I don't say this because he is my dad) one of the best model railroaders still alive. He never made a dime off of it. In college I loved Rock and Ice climbing and of the hundreds of climbers I knew personally not one of them was good enough to go pro or dedicated enough to guide. I used to live in Cody Wyoming, a town obsessed with back country big game hunting. Less than 200 people made money as hunting guides, cooks, and packers and probably fewer than 10 made their sole income from hunting.

In magic, I don't consider myself a pro and yet I have made about $500.00 this year alone. Well over 1/2 of my magic buddies are part time or fully employed in the industry. Those jobs range from creating their own effects, booking gigs part and full time, and working for various magic retailers. It is the most employable and profitable hobby in the world.
Sep 1, 2007
In magic, I don't consider myself a pro and yet I have made about $500.00 this year alone. Well over 1/2 of my magic buddies are part time or fully employed in the industry. Those jobs range from creating their own effects, booking gigs part and full time, and working for various magic retailers. It is the most employable and profitable hobby in the world.

Take it a step further and consider sports fans. People who pay for season tickets, who tailgate, buy all this memorabilia. Let's not even insult the numbers by talking about how many sports fanatics ever become professional athletes.

Money is only part of the perception however. I maintain that any hobby, passion or pursuit is a negative if it doesn't enrich your life in some way. Even sports fans can say that a tailgating party is a great way to spend a day in the company of friends. You don't have to go pro with something, but it helps. If nothing else, it should make you a more interesting and complex person. Magic only fails to do that if you memorize stock scripts verbatim and only ever perform in front of a webcam.

When a passion is a negative like I described above, people call it nerdy or dorky. But I believe the problem is the public perception places the causative link on subject rather than pursuit. Magic is seen as a nerd thing because it's magic, even though that's crap. But no one calls David Blaine or Lance Burton nerds. They tell you that reading Tolkien is nerdy, but Peter Jackson brought Tolkien to the silver screen and won 17 Oscars over the course of 3 movies.

Express your passion in an interesting way, and only the most ignorant cynic will still give you crap for liking what you like.
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