Archive for the ‘Artist Interviews’ Category

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

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Made to shake foundations: Justin Millers BOLD Project filled with his most evocative, astonishing effects

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.


Ollie Mealing: Move-monkey is a good goal, but this one is better

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Ollie Mealing: Move monkey is a good goal, but this one is better

We all wear the badge “move-monkey” with pride. Ollie Mealing is definitely one, as evidenced by his work with Control. But if you’ve seen his YouTube videos, his effects are about so much more than doing a move. This is the thought process that helps Ollie create real magic.

I love chasing a new move, generally the more profound it is, the more interested I am in pursuing it – possibly because it leads to a greater sense of achievement or perhaps the idea of an unpredictable journey is too seductive to shake off. Regardless of the challenge, I find it to be a thrilling experience from the start – the discovery, the development, the accomplishment & the resultant new addition to your arsenal as well as new lessons learnt along the way.

Through this addictively satisfying process, it’s no wonder that so many of us consider ourselves as ‘move-monkeys’. While I think this title is beneficial, we should place focus towards becoming it’s older, wiser accomplice – an ‘effect-monkey’.



Ollie Mealing: First impression carries loads of impact for your performances

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

Ollie Mealing: First impression carries loads of impact for your performances

The real work isn’t only in the sleights. It’s in your scripts, your presentation, your demeanor — everything. Ollie Mealing, the creator of Control and Recoil, knows this firsthand. The experience he’s built through performing for corporate clients and working with Derren Brown has given him a sharp focus on all of those points. In this post, Ollie looks at the first impression, the moment that happens long before you get a chance to do a single trick. (photo credit Benji Taylor)

I believe to best achieve an aim, you must consider every contributing step. The subject of expectation is a prime example. By considering the path and process a thought takes, we can intervene along the way and plant tactical seeds to encourage the desired expectation.

With that in mind, those first few precious seconds between performer and audience have always interested me. Upon first glance they’re trivial, forgotten moments, but upon closer examination they provide a foundation for either success or failure — by instilling an impression and consequently an expectation.

To understand how to influence an expectation to our greatest advantage, we first need to understand which factors contribute towards building an impression, of which there’s many. Inherently all these factors fall under appearance — the way you’re dressed, your body language, facial expression, hygiene, the way you talk, the words you use, if/how you shake their hand, if you’re holding anything — in fact anything sensible serves to form a mental image in the audiences mind. Understanding the messages (or subtext) these factors carry allows you to modify each one to ensure you are perceived as you both wish and require — not every situation will warrant the the same impression.


Ollie Mealing: Finding a table helps strengthen strolling performances

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Ollie Mealing: Finding a table helps strengthen strolling performances

Ollie Mealing, creator of Control and Recoil, has worked his share of corporate events, parties and other performances. One of the secrets to his success at a strolling gig is, surprisingly, parking it at a table. The following are his thoughts about what a table can do for the working magician.

For many years I’ve been a regular performer at large scale events and in that time, I’ve prudently geared my material towards working at my own allocated table – a format which I believe (for such an environment) leads to the greatest desirable outcome. The concept isn’t original or groundbreaking, and possibly underwhelming to hear, but simplicity is often complexity in disguise.

The Audience

Within minutes of arriving at an event, you’ve noticed a large group of occupied guests, all gathered in a semi-circular fashion, their backs towards you, an oddity that quite literally stands out. The cause of their accumulation is currently indiscernible, but instantaneously your wise instincts raise a conclusive flag that SOMETHING in that vicinity is happening – a thing that evidently must be of value to have captured the attention and time of your fellow guests.

Your options are as follows: You can either stroll across and have your curiosity delightfully quenched, or secure a drink and engage in conversation, where the puzzling subject is destined to resurface. Both outcomes will ultimately end in your favour, as finally you’ll have discovered that the recent applause which cheerily beamed from the area of concern was generated most wonderfully by a magician — though ideally you’d have already acquired this knowledge firsthand & are partly responsible for that very applause, pleasantly finding yourself as a newly astounded contributor to the acclamation.

Now that your inquisition has been sated, you’re now privy to the secret and equipped with an exciting talking point. If you weren’t initially enticed, your swift beeline towards the action will imminently ensue, or amicably instead, you’ve opted to find a friend for the jaunt. But undoubtedly that moment of involvement is inescapably impending — perhaps when your social threshold needs recharging or, if you need an excuse to decamp or just simply because you’re too intrigued (the latter obviously being preferable), then you too will become an integral member of the alluring group, witnessing for yourself who everyone’s been talking about and feeling rejoiced that you did.

From that moment on, you spend your evening intermittently sharing the tale of your enthralling experience — continuing to propagate and embed a joyous memory.

Ollie Mealing: Finding a table helps strengthen strolling performances

The Magician

After much deliberation, you’ve chosen the prime spot to base yourself. The guests are beginning to appear and all that’s entailed to bring forth your eventual hub of mystery and magic is to coax an audience into position.

From this point on, the fun is as much yours as it is theirs. A self-sustaining audience full of high expectations who have excitedly approached and accepted you in exchange for amazement — what more could you ask for?

Shortly into your set, you realize your performances are no longer disjointed and vulnerable to mistimed introductions, interruptions or imposing remarks, because whilst in your zone, the onus for a respectable demeanour is their duty. Under these circumstances, being surrounded by an enthusiastic, eager and cordial crowd, you’re able to relish in the perks of feeling at ease, you’re able to take full of advantage of copious table space without the flow-deadening hassle of making space and you’re able to maintain your optimal performance flow — which conveniently reciprocates back to the audience as reassurance, further building anticipation and establishing rapport.

Importantly, tricks can transgress to magic, as you’re able to partner your material with the attention it rightfully deserves — gratifyingly being able to provide your audience with the exact experience you want to instill.

This is all very well in theory, but in reality the advantages are only truly manifested if you’re able to fit the environment and deliver suitable material — for which, feasible adaptations may need to be made. But from my own experience it’s a worthwhile pursuit, as this presentational technique has immeasurably transformed the way I approach, view and enjoy a performance.

Discovering what works best for you and your audience is for me, the primary joy and key to creating magic — a personal process which unveils answers unique to you. I hope the above will prove worthy of your time & take you a step closer to a new and exciting revelation.

SUITABLE FOR FRAMING: Magician shakes tremors for impossible towers

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

SUITABLE FOR FRAMING: Magician shakes tremors for impossible towers

One of the biggest joys we get at is seeing how you use the products we make, from decks of custom playing cards to videos showing what you can do with those cards. Thanksgiving always gives us a chance to settle down and really feel all the feels brought by the gratitude we have for all the customers who have kept us working our tails off over the last 13 years.

We love seeing what you do with our products. So many great performances, so many beautiful videos, so many amazing reactions. But every once in a while, one of you comes up with something completely, astonishingly different.

SUITABLE FOR FRAMING: Magician shakes tremors for impossible towersThe latest to bewilder us is Jeremy Griffith, who has his own idea of a stacked deck. An Instagram user, Jeremy has been posting incredible pictures of Republics, Artifice and Rounders defying gravity. At first, the cards and decks in his series appeared to be floating. And just when we thought we had it figured out, Jeremy moved the camera down and showed EXACTLY how he accomplished it.

And bewildered us all over again.

See for yourself: Deck boxes balance on top of coins, single cards, glasses, pens and more. Jeremy said there’s no glue, tape, invisible thread or seams. Everything is done using precision balance (as precise as hands can be, anyway), centers of gravity and plenty of patience for trial and error.

“The rules when this thing got started with me were simple,” he said. “Photoshop was out of the question and nothing could be bonding the cards. Also, I was only allowed to use what was in the picture, which is usually a deck and a flat surface.”

The Lake Forest, Calif., resident has studied magic for 23 of his 30 years. For all of those years, he’s had a small tremor in both hands. Nothing serious, medically — but annoying enough to where the tremors become a hassle. Taking up magic at 7, the tremors complicated things, he discovered. It was hard to get that soft touch with cards, so he stuck with coins for the longest time — the hard metal and constant motion was easier to manage.

But he eventually conquered cards. He learned a sort of dynamic tension similar to guitar players and used that to progress deep into card magic. Though he still has the tremors, it’s hard to spot them unless his hands are completely still, he said. Which makes us look at all those towers in a new light.

Talk about an impossible stack.

“Usually I’m just seeing how far I can go with the center of gravity before it becomes too unstable,” he said. Every level you go up gets harder to balance for obvious reasons, and as such, requires a lot more patience. But when you pull it off, it’s like shooting nothing but net from the half court line.”