THE (Your) Shift

Jun 18, 2019
West Bengal, India
This is for those people who either are professionally connected to magic in any way OR are working (at any job) but have continued magic as a hobby.

The first kind:-
I'm always interested the MOST about how people do the shift, from magic as a hobby to magic as a job (whether in consulting or performing or photography or anything), and now that Jonah Babbins (his podcasts are the best imo) has increased my interest in that topic, I want to ask all professionals doing magic in any form, what is YOUR story of switching magic from an impressive (and attention-getting) hobby to an actual job (full-time) ?

The second kind:-

If you do magic but also a totally unrelated job OR perform magic as a part time job, how do you manage to do both simultaneously, devoting equal love and time to both? Or is there a ratio of time devoted to them?
More importantly, why did you make the decision to NOT perform magic professionally full-time, or ended up not doing it as your only (or primary) job?

Please reply for I find these stories fascinating (and inspiring, eye-opening).

Especially since I so recently found out that one can make magic their job without even actively performing it (through business or consulting, etc)...WHO'D HAVE THOUGHT? (I mean, at least 8 y o me had no idea...). The world of magic is beautiful!!
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Elite Member
Jul 22, 2010
Melbourne, Australia

Great questions!

I’m the second kind. I did a few gigs during uni/college and I have occasionally done something here or there however, I realised quickly that my passion for performing was outweighed by my interest in practicing and learning the craft.

I would watch others perform and knew that it was special. I didn’t have the time then, or now to make something outstanding and couldn’t justify being average.

I don’t think many would argue that the hardest part of our craft is not the tricks but the performance. It’s about what YOU bring to the table.

given time, I could have improved no doubt but my interests didn’t rest so much in that other 80% but rather in the largely mundane practice, reading, exploring etc. that makes up the other 20%

Nowadays, I’d love to perform but simply couldn’t justify the shift from my current career. I may one day but for now, I’ll keep enjoying the part I love and continue to watch incredible performers do justice to the art.

Jun 18, 2019
West Bengal, India
I realised quickly that my passion for performing was outweighed by my interest in practicing and learning the craft.
I not only love your honesty vut this goes to show how grey really the areas really are...
You clearly love magic even if you do not practice or learn new things of the craft. So I guess "If you yate practice, choose another hobby" is another quote not a 100% true.
Although you must be really good if you got gigs :)


Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
Another quote for you, "If you can imagine doing anything else and being happy - do that instead." (Regarding being a professional performer)

I make all my money through the magic industry currently. Working for Ellusionist, performing, selling my book(s), and most recently doing workshops. Before I went full time with magic I was working a restaurant job that sucked, performing part time with a circus troupe my (now) wife and I had formed, and busking occasionally. I used to post on the E forums frequently and this got the attention of the higher ups, so when they needed someone to handle a few customer emails Adam called me. I agreed, started with one or two hours a day, which quickly grew into full time work. Around that time I quit the restaurant and have worked in the magic industry ever since.

Perhaps ironically I am somewhat atypical in that I never liked magic as a kid. I didn't get into it at all until I was in my mid-20s. I am currently working to shift more towards full time performer but it's touch and go, as I really need to learn more of the business side of things.


Elite Member
Jan 1, 2020
I like this question. I have a great career in Corporate business. I’ve always needed to unwind at the end of the day, but with something more intellectually stimulating than mindlessly watching bad television.

In the past, I’ve played various strategy computer games or read nonfiction, but for the past couple years, I spend a couple hours most nights practicing card magic. I’m probably not very good, but I am more than good enough to blow my friends’ (with basically no magic experience) minds. And I feel like I devote love and passion to both my career and magic.

ive never performed for an audience, but whenever I visit friends and family across the US, they always want to see some new tricks!
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Jun 18, 2019
West Bengal, India
ive never performed for an audience, but whenever I visit friends and family across the US, they always want to see some new tricks!
To be honest, sometimes this seems to me the purest kind of magic as a performing art...just having fun with it! :) :) :)

Perhaps ironically I am somewhat atypical in that I never liked magic as a kid.
Aaaand these are the stories I like...
For those who love something, to fall deeper in love is easy to understand.
But hate turned to love? Now that's a hit plot for some Netflix shows...

I used to post on the E forums frequently and this got the attention of the higher ups, so when they needed someone to handle a few customer emails Adam called me
These words...these words. Aah, whenever used by anybody, these series of happenings which must've taken real long (usually) but can be summed up in such a concise manner, but still make it evident how amazing it must've been when it happened, well, these are the happenings people work for.


Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
To be fair, I didn't hate magic at all. I just never saw anything I thought was magical.

When I was growing up in the 80s and 90s all there was on TV, as far as magic went, was grand illusion and stage manipulation. Sparkly costumes, boxes, and dudes hiding cards behind their hands was how I saw it. It all seemed so blatantly obviously a trick to me that I just sat there waiting for them to do some magic.

The first magic show I saw that was remotely interesting to me was Ricky Jay and his 52 Assistants - which I talk about frequently. Here was a guy doing magical things right there - no boxes, no weird poses tossing cards on the floor, no sequins. Just some guy in a suit doing really cool things. I've probably watched that special a couple hundred times now.

Blaine changed things again with his special in '99. There wasn't even a stage and he was up close with people. It felt much more real than the stuff I'd seen as a kid.

But I didn't get interested myself until 2007. The girl I was dating at the time did a semester of grad school in Mexico, I got bored, I learned a couple card tricks to show her when she got home. The reaction and the fine motor skills involved (something I've always been a bit OCD about) hooked me. I did card magic for a little over two years and then shifted towards general magic, and then into bizarre/seance/hypnosis.


Elite Member
Jun 13, 2017
Currently I’m the second kind, I’m not a part time professional (yet), but it’s my goal for sure.

I love my current job, and I would be lucky to work here till my retirement, because it has and will open many doors in our entertainment industry. And my job gives me the time and freedom to pursue my magic goals.

I’m an accountant, and work for a company that owns several concerthalls/venues/theatres. We also promote own productions, wich tour regularly in Western Europe. Our main office is in a venue with a maximum capacity of 24.000, and it’s right next to a smaller venue with a maximum capacity of 8.000. My workday starts at 9h00, and ends at 17h30 if there is no show. If there’s a show, I usually work till 01h00. When the concert starts I have nothing to do till it ends. So I have a lot of time to practice. When there’s no show, I devote 2-3 hours of my evening to magic (practicing, reading,…). If there would be more hours in a day, I would devote more time to magic. All the big bands/artists play here when they tour (Metallica/U2/Elton John/Celine Dion/Lady Gaga/Green Day/Kevin Hart/…). And we have a minimum of 2 events per week.

This means I’m in a luxury position. The die hard fans get here in the morning, their numbers vary between 20 and 300 at 13h00.
They all wait outside untill the doors open (wich is usually around 18h). So they are sitting there, and have nothing to do but wait. For me, that’s ideal.

During lunch I go out, and practice my effects, every day I have a different audience.
When I’m ready for it I’m planning to do 'real shows' at the entrace for tips. Even if I don’t make a lot of money, the experience that I’ll be gaining will be far more valuable.
Once I’m more experienced I’ll be making more money during those show’s (and I can start working on getting more gigs on other locations/occasions).


Aug 31, 2007
The stories are good to hear. It's nice to have a bit more framework to view you all rather than just a name and avatar.

For me I enjoyed magic as a kid, learned a couple of good - non math cards tricks along the way, but nothing serious. I was at a faculty Christmas party at the university near here, and saw a deck of cards. I didn't know anyone (I was someone's guest) and showed a few just as something to do. They loved it. They kept talking about it. Every time I saw them they would say "Next time we want to see more!" but I didn't know any more! Some time after I spoke to a friend who was a kids magician and asked the question - 'where do Magicians learn magic? I want to learn more.' He pointed me to Penguin magic where I saw Oz do things with cards I had never thought possible.

Down the rabbit hole I went.

Fast forward a year, I was a server in a very busy restaurant, doing magic for my tables to entertain them (read: get better tips). Eventually people started to ask if I had business cards or if I did shows. I did my first show for a friends 15 year old son and his friends for $50. I felt so guilty because I felt like I would have done it for free because I just love to perform. I began to get more and more people asking for me to do shows. I made my website and began to get random traffic for companies in the area. I had to improve my show to meet the level of requests and payments that were being made. Soon I was doing more shows than I could handle and raised my prices and passed off more work to my other magician friends.

Through this entire time I was finishing my education degree and starting work with the student programs in my church. Now I am full time at my church for the last 15 years and have done corporate magic on the sides as I am able. I would call myself a part time professional magician. I love my day job more. Chris' quote "If you can imagine doing anything else and being happy - do that instead." is so true. It actually stems from a minister in the late 1800's Charles Spurgeon. I love my day job, so I will continue to make that a priority, however, magic is a second love for me, so it holds that place in my life and I'm happy with that.

At this stage I am trying to find time to rewrite my show as well as develop a speaking topic in conjunction. I'd love to offer more opportunities to my clients in the future. But extra time is scarce these days!
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Nov 3, 2018
I'm enjoying reading these stories, keep them going!
Especially yours touched me, Justin. It's amazing how you started performing "accidentally", and how that developed into the passion and job it is now!
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Josh Burch

Elite Member
Aug 11, 2011
I currently make my living by only doing magic. I'm in a very similar situation to Christopher but instead of working for Ellusionist I work for Penguin. As far as performing goes I also have a residency at at a ski resort in Utah.

When I was a kid I really liked Magic I saw a special with Lance Burton on TV and I was hooked. When I turned 12 my dad took me to a David Copperfield show and I never looked back. I read the book Hiding the Elephant in high school and realized that there were people who worked behind the scenes in magic. I thought that the coolest possible job would be to be that person. I enjoy performing but I have never wanted to be a performer,I like being behind the scenes guy in high school I created special effects and sets for local theater companies. After I graduated I continued doing this and it's something that I still do to this day.

After reading Hide the Elephant I looked at other people in the magic industry like Jim Steinmeyer the author of the book. I learned the names of magic creators and producers such as Chris Kenner, Andre Kole, Paul Harris, Banacek and others.

I looked at their careers and tried to do what they did to some extent. They were all well read so I tried to study as much as I could about magic. They were all creative so I tried to create my own magic tricks.

Eventually I graduated high school and went to college. I went to school to become a teacher. In my first year of teaching Rick Lax made a post on Facebook talking about how he sometimes had a hard time coming up with magic to perform online. I reached out and sent him as many ideas as I could. He liked them and brought me on as a consultant for his interactive magic tricks. After working with him I was also able to work with Jibrizy, Paul Vu, Justin Flom, and Adam Trent.

Rick Lax began to transition in the type of magic that he would perform on Facebook and he began using my ideas less and less. At the time he had a great relationship with Penguin Magic and he sent my name over to them. I started out in customer support answering magic questions, then I transitioned to more creative jobs. I am now an editor for Penguin Magic Monthly and I write two columns in the magazine each month. I also have had the opportunity to travel with the Penguin MAXX events.

More recently I have been able to use my magic and creative skills to build and design escape rooms.

If I had to describe my career magic it would look like this:
Stage 1- Wouldn't it be cool if I could make money with this?
Stage 2- I think I can make money with this!
Stage 3- I'm making money with this!
Stage 4- I'm too far in now I need to keep making money with this!
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