I have never been to a magic school or had a personal mentor as these don't really exist in Australia. I am self taught, like pretty much all Australian magicians. Books and videos have been the main resources I've learned from. With sleight of hand sometimes it is easier just to learn with a video as you need a detailed visual explanation of how objects are gripped or manipulated. Books are often more helpful for understanding magical theory and presentation. I've also learned a great amount just from experience or trial and error. Understanding the psychological principles of magic can only come from live performance, you need an audience to get a feel for how they respond to misdirection and suggestion. People often ask me how I learned magic, so I thought I should offer a list of resources that I have found very helpful. Feel free to email me if you want further suggestions or advice.
Roberto Giobbi Card College volumes 1-5 This series covers pretty much all the core fundamental techniques and principles of sleight of hand magic with cards in a very clear concise way. He also offers some solid theoretical knowledge about magical presentation and psychology J. B. Bobo's Modern Coin Magic Like Card College, this book is almost and encyclopedia of sleight of hand, but only for coins. It explains basically all types of coin concealments, vanishes, how to use a range of gimmick-ed coins and how to do the classic miser's dream, where a big number of coins are produced from the air or from people in the audience. T. Nelson Downs The Art of Magic This is quite an old book written by the great vaudeville sleight of hand artist T. Nelson Downs and John Northern Hilliard. It covers a variety of kinds of magic with cards, coins, balls, eggs, napkins and ropes. There is a technique in here for an extremely deceptive coin appearance where all the fingers can be opened to show both sides of the hand. Jim Steinmeyer Hiding the Elephant Steinmeyer is an illusion designer and magic historian. While his books might qualify as popular history, that does not mean his books are not well researched or have poor scholarship. The stories they tell are just entertaining enough to please a wide audience. Hiding the Elephant covers the history of magic from the mid 19th century through to early 20th century, often known as the 'Golden Age of Magic', when live performance was the primary form of entertainment and therefore reached a level of refinement that has been very difficult to surpass in the last 100 years. Magic shows had huge budgets and required huge teams of people with a variety of different kinds of expertise. When I was growing up and saw films about the Golden Age, such as The Illusionist and the Prestige, I assumed the illusions presented in them were enhanced with special effects. You would be very surprised what magician's were capable of back. There is a trick in the Illusionist where Edward Norton's character, the great Eisenheim, slowly fades away like a ghost and then vanishes. Believe it or not, this is actually a real illusion that was invented by Harry Kellar, known as the "Blue Room". This book explains a variety of optical and mechanical secrets used in stage illusions. Jean Hugard Modern Magic Manual This book covers a huge diversity of materials with watches, coins, rings, balls, eggs, scarves, thimbles, flowers, ropes. It even teaches several methods for producing a rabbit from a hat. This book will keep you busy for a very long time. Gordon Miller Illusions Illusions While the term illusion can refer to any wrong or misinterpreted perception, to magicians, 'illusions' are usually large effects that appear on a stage often involving tricks with the human body. They mostly use optical, mechanical or psychological principles. This book explains a dozens of stage illusions and provides workshop plans to help you build them yourself. You will learn how to make someone appear to be extremely small, how to seem to stab someone's head multiple times and then have it vanish and how to make someone slowly fade away like a ghost while in a transparent glass box. Juan Tamariz Mnemonica This book provides a great amount of detail on a wide variety of applications for an extremely versatile and useful principle of card magic. Rather than just having people choose a card, they can just name or think of one. A spectator can take a card out of the pack and you immediately know what it is without the cards being discretely marked on the back. I probably perform more card tricks from this book than any other I have read. Corinda 13 Steps to Mentalism A mentalist is to the psychic as the magician is to the wizard. A mentalist creates the impression of being able to read minds using very similar techniques to a magician and this book teaches you most of the fundamental principles used in mentalism. Many mentalists portray themselves as intuitive psychological geniuses, like a sociopath with a talent for manipulating people who uses his skills to entertain rather than exploit people. While this might seem noble at first, this is really just as dishonest as telling people you are psychic, or an actual wizard. While I have no problem with their desire to entertain, the lives and minds of human beings are incredibly complicated, perhaps the most complex things in the universe. To have the incredible insight that these mentalists claim to possess would require them to literally be omnipotent. Mentalists depend mostly on principles involving probability, sleight of hand, double speak and ambiguity of outcome rather than profound psychological insight. A mentalist cannot 'read you' and know everything about you within 5 minutes of talking to you or meaningfully deduce your character from your physical appearance. They cannot tell just from your body language if you are lying. Nobody has these powers.
Julian is a magician in Sydney helping you make the most of your special events. He has performed many hundreds of magic shows over the last 11 years. Call him on 0437896344 or email firstname.lastname@example.org