INSIDE THE CARDS: Ace of Spades has a long history of being top card

February 22nd, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General

INSIDE THE CARDS: Ace of Spades has a long history of being top card

Most playing cards look the same from deck to deck. But the Ace of Spades is different. Aside from the backs and jokers, the Ace of Spades is usually the only card to feature a unique artistic design, depending on the printer of the deck. Some are simple as a paint sample, others are as ornate as a stained glass window.

Our custom decks of playing cards feature some of the most iconic recognizable aces in playing cards today. Our designs for aces quickly expanded into themes that encompassed entire decks, and that trend caught on like wildfire — today, collectors frown on new decks that feature only a custom ace.

We’re proud to be part of playing card history. But it raises the question: How did the Ace of Spades get to be so different?

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

February 8th, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under Artist Interviews, General

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.

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SUITABLE FOR FRAMING: Artist gives court cards modern looks

February 7th, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General

SUITABLE FOR FRAMING: Artist gives court cards modern looks

Tomas Hlavaty appreciated how Daniel Madison altered the faces of Rounders and Dealers to include his friends. But the clothes they all wore seemed outdated and out of character.

So he changed the cards to give them modern looks.

SUITABLE FOR FRAMING: Artist gives court cards modern looks“I like the fact that Daniel put himself and his close friends into the design of the deck,” Tomas said. “I was thinking, how would he look on a card with his apperance closer to reality. And that’s how it all began.”

Tomas, 24, of Bratislava, Slovakia, is well prepared to do that. Working as a graphic designer, he has been an artist since an early age, and is a Deviant Art member with a large portfolio. That means he knew instantly how he would alter a card to match current appearances with all the details that inspire him on modern cards.

A King of Diamonds from a Dealers deck features an updated DM, complete with hair sans crown, V-neck and chest tattoo. And that was one of the first he did: A portrait of Laura London on the Queen of Clubs features a necklace and a full showing of her red hair. And a Jack of Spades features Gianni Vox with an Iron Man chest plate (a nod to G’s Tony Stark look).

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FOUR POINTS: These places will get you on the path to getting paid

January 21st, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under Four Points

FOUR POINTS: These places will get you on the path to getting paid

So you’re ready. Whether you’re following through with a new year’s resolution or a planned goal, you’re out to take your magic from practice to profitability. You’re ready to get paid for all your planning and work.

Time to make those cards pay for themselves.

It doesn’t matter what your plan for magic is, from building a list of clients in your town to making it big in Vegas. Before you can be the next Messado, Ollie Mealing or Adam Wilber, You have to start somewhere, and there is no substitute for the experience of actually performing for living, breathing people.

(David Stone’s Real Secrets of Magic Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 are time-tested classics, and Ellusionist’s hardest-working worker Adam Wilber has filled up “Creative Magic” and The Worker Part 1 and Part 2 with great material for business-minded magicians.)

Drumming up business isn’t easy, but you have to start somewhere. At the beginning of your career, you may have to content yourself with making a reputation, not money. Which is fine, because that’s an investment in your future. Instead of performing for cash, make a testimonial or the ability to pass business cards/put up flyers part of the deal.

You have two goals:

  • ~ Get your name out there and let people know what you do. This is done through good old-fashioned networking (a fancy word for “meeting people”). Whether it’s a business card, flyer or an actual performance, you want to spread the word that you exist.
  • ~ Show people that you deserved to be hired. This is done through excellent performance and interaction — AND by being a great team player at the place where you work your magic. Hopefully you perform for people who love your work and hire you in the future. And a testimonial from the right person can seal a deal down the road.

Here are four places that would be good for your business cards, flyers or actual skills. Out of respect to any working magicians in your area (and yourself as well), you don’t want to use these options repeatedly — use them as occasional tools in your toolbox:


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Gone forever: Last of Red Artifice decks handed out in promotion

January 10th, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General

Gone forever: Last of Red Artifice decks handed out in promotion

Just like our first edition Black Ghost decks, we knew we’d eventually run out of them. We just didn’t expect it to happen this quickly.

It’s official: We are out of Red Artifice decks.

They will never again be available from Ellusionist as a prize, promotion or anything else. They are out the door.

A little history: The Red Artifice was printed in 2011 alongside the first edition of the Blue Artifice deck. The red version was exactly like the blue, except for its red color, obviously, and the amount. Only 5,000 of the decks were ever printed. (Because borders were added to the Blue and Emerald Artifice decks, there are about 10,000 first edition Blue decks with no borders in existence.)

The manner of its release was different as well: Responding to feedback we received about the Black Ghost and Gold Arcane decks, it was first released for individual sale. We took 3,000 of the 5,000 and posted them up for people to buy at $6.99 each. The last 2,000 we reserved for promotions and prizes, such as a deal we posted during the days after Christmas: People could receive a Red Artifice deck when they bought any 12 of our other custom decks.

Because of a software error, that promotion cleared out our supply.

Gone forever: Last of Red Artifice decks handed out in promotionThe promotion was supposed to last for a 24-hour period. But because of the error, the promotion remained in effect for several more days. That means a lot of people who bought 12 decks, not really intending to take advantage of the sale, received the bonus.

We were tempted to go back through all the orders and retroactively remove the decks, but in the end, we decided to stand by the purchases until the decks were depleted. And when the Red Artifice were gone, we filled the promo instead with a rare Red Arcane deck. We apologize for the error, and hope that a gift of a just-as-rare deck that has been only recently passed out suffices (compared to the Red Artifice, there are so few Red Arcane decks actually in people’s hands — we’re looking at most of ‘em in the warehouse right now).

For the rest of us, we bid a sudden, sad yet well-deserved adieu. Goodbye, Red Artifice: You glowed like embers in a fire, and we’ll always burn for you. We send you off by showing Peter McKinnon’s incredible trailer that featured some of the first appearances of Bobby Motta, Mike Clarke and Shade.