Archive for the ‘Artist Interviews’ Category

Deep into Sleepers: Artist Oban Jones talks about how he designs a deck of cards

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Art needs to be free. Without borders or bounds. No rules, no regulations. An artist should be free to create whatever they want, in whatever form they believe it should take.

So when it comes to interpreting other works of art, there’s probably nothing more limiting than decks of playing cards. It’s an object that — depending on the buyer — carries a myriad of design expectations, from the colors of suits to the number of eyes on court cards.

But for Oban Jones, those expectations aren’t limiting. They are inspiring.

“I may be wrong in this belief, but to my knowledge, there is no other artifact that is so complex in its design and so quintessentially unchanged for so much of its history,” said Jones, designer of the Sleepers deck. “You could look at a deck of cards from 500 years ago, and yes, there would be differences, but their purpose and essential design would be immediately recognizable.”


Magician Zack Mirza combines travel, history, performance in new show

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015


Magic has worldwide appeal, so it made perfect sense for Zack Mirza to hit the road. Choosing where to go was just as easy.

In “Illusions of Grandeur,” on Canada’s OLN, Zack makes his magic journey the center of the show. In travels to New York City, Detroit, New Orleans, Las Vegas and nine other cities with strong magic connections, he documents his quest to be the next big name.

“That was a competely new experience to me,” Mirza said. “I’d only been to New York and a few other US cities, so being in all of these new places was incredible.”

Because of a surprising abundance of other magic shows, Mirza said he and his crew knew that “Illusions of Grandeur” couldn’t be just another show. The trip at the center of the show was inspired partially by David Blaine’s “Real or Magic” and HBO’s “How to Make It in America.” It pairs the history and stories behind magic with the struggle to make a mark on the world, Mirza said, while showing an honest portrayal of Mirza’s career. (more…)

Artist Interview: Pyro the result of two years’ worth of work

Monday, December 15th, 2014

The device that Adam Wilber saw in an Internet video looked frightening. It was a handheld fire spitter, but it had a mercury switch and was controlled by the level of the arm. Still, the idea took hold: Three months into the beginning of taking the reins as Ellusionist’s project manager, he dived into developing a device that gave him everything he wanted — which didn’t exist on the market then.

“I wanted something that was self-sufficient,” Wilber said. “It could strap on the wrist, it would be comfortable, you could use it whenever you wanted, fire it whenever you wanted, and you didn’t have to worry about a pull down your sleeve or palming something off.”

Two years of work, research and seven prototypes later, that device exists.

And it has caught the Internet on fire.

Adam Wilber’s Pyro Fireshooter has gone viral and earned a crazy amount of reviews from both magicians and laymen. You may have seen it on one of your favorite non-magic sites lately:

The ultimate compliment to Wilber and testament to the device’s success was a sellout of the device’s first run, days after release. The response is a dream come true for Wilber, the author of Creative Magic and creator of the effects in The Working Man.

He talked more about the device, its creation and applications in this podcast interview. Listen to how he uses the device in his own gigs (including a crucial rule you must follow), problems with the first prototypes and how he got talked into sitting in the middle of a fireworks explosion for the trailer.


Artist Interview: Mat Franco’s “AGT” win was good for all magicians

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

His plan was to get some footage that he could use for his promo reel, so that he could advertise himself with the phrase, “As seen on ‘America’s Got Talent.'”

But Mat Franco went much further.

The magician made history by becoming the first magician to win NBC’s talent show. Winning over viewers in season nine, he beat singers Miguel Dakota, Quintavious Johnson and Emily West, the band Sons of Serendip and the acrobatic ensemble AcroArmy. And season nine was a good year for magicians, with Mike Super, Smoothini, and David and Leaman progressing far in the competition.

A magician winning “AGT” is no small feat — magicians know that the show has a history of not being kind to magicians. And though that reputation has changed over the last few seasons, magicians were still competing against singers and dancers, two performance fields with their own reality TV shows.

So when Mat said his win is a big deal for all magicians, we say “Amen.” He also said that his win didn’t pull magic out of a dark cellar of obscurity — his win was just the latest chapter in a pretty vibrant magic scene right now, from Darcy Oake making the finals in the most recent season of “Britain’s Got Talent” to the success of “Wizard Wars” on SyFy.

“This is huge for magicians. This is something we all should be feeding from, we should all be getting work from right now … We should all be feeding off this any way can, whether you had a television pilot you were trying to get done, or if you had a gig you were trying to close in your hometown, this is big for magic. I want us all to continue with this momentum to move it forward.”

Mat beat out a talented field of performers with a carefully customized blend of close-up magic and big-stage spectacle. His routines included close-up classics, including an ambitious card routine, cups and balls and an oil and water routine that used a human deck of cards. They also featured intricate stories told in precision with magical effects.

About two weeks after the win, Mat talked to us for a podcast about his career before the show, how it really is a different world for magicians on the show now and what the future holds.


Made to ‘shake foundations': Justin Miller’s BOLD Project filled with his most evocative, astonishing effects

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Maybe it started when he was performing in Las Vegas with Lance Burton’s show at the Monte Carlo. Maybe it was when he delivered his first magic lecture at 13, or managed a magic shop at 15. Maybe it started during his first shows, held in his garage when he was 7.

Justin Miller really can’t point to a time when he hasn’t had a fearless attitude about magic.

“It did not come overnight, but it did come easily for me,” Miller said. “I have no idea why; it just did. That’s not to say that in the beginning, 13 years old or so, that I was not shaking every time I performed for anyone, because I most definitely did!”

The more he performed, the more confident he grew in what he showed. That confidence bred an attitude to try anything and everything in order to get more astonishing reactions.