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How I Became a Magician

January 25, 2017

Almost every time I perform I get asked, “How did you get into magic?” or “how long have you been performing for?” My typical response is “Since nine o’clock this morning, it’s been a crazy day!” But in reality, it really hasn’t been that long, compared to most full time magicians close to my age.

 

For many magicians, their interest in magic started as a child when they received a magic kit for Christmas or as a birthday present. As a child I was interested in juggling and in riding a unicycle, but I had never experimented with magic. In fact I barely remember magic existing as a child.

 

Six years ago, I was 28 years old and working as a carpenter’s apprentice for an insurance restoration company. I had gone to college a couple of times before, only to realize soon after that I really didn’t want to work in the fields that I had studied in. Eventually the company I was working for decided to put me through the carpentry apprenticeship program at Algonquin College. It was around the same time that I discovered my love for magic.

 

I was at a party one evening and I witnessed what seemed like the most impossible coin trick ever: a friend of mine had two coins in one hand. When he closed his hand and reopened it, there was only one coin to be found. He had no sleeves, and nothing had gone near his hand. I had never seen anything like this before. In fact, this was my first real experience seeing close up magic in person. My mind was blown. I felt the gears grinding in my head and I think I lost sleep for a few days. I remember the huge smile on my face as I was demanding an explanation.

 

Of course, he would not tell me how he did it and I’m glad that he didn’t. Otherwise, I would have never driven to Toronto’s magic store the following week, nor would I have returned to Ottawa as an amateur magician.

 

From then on, I always had a few tricks up my sleeve, which I would perform at family gatherings or for friends at parties. At the time, I had no intention of performing for a living. Magic was just my new favorite hobby… So much so, that it became all I could think about.

 

It wasn’t long until I started hearing the same thing: “Kevin, you should be performing for money.”  I really liked the idea, but I didn’t know where to start. After a little bit of research, I read that some restaurants were known to hire magicians to entertain their customers while they waited for their food. I thought this was the COOLEST job in the world!  I started reading everything I could find on restaurant magic, including how the restaurant benefits from magic, how to get the job, how to approach tables, which tricks to do, and how to book private shows from it. At the time, I wasn’t even interested in booking private shows. I just wanted to perform in restaurants.

 

I took a week off of my full time job to do everything I could to book a restaurant. I must have called about 50 restaurants in Ottawa to give them my pitch. Most of them thought I was from Mars… but there were three restaurants that never said “yes”, but also didn’t quite say “no.” I was so determined to get the gig that one day, I decided to show up to a restaurant unannounced.  I remember being so nervous that I almost turned around halfway there. I walked into the restaurant, reminded the manager about my services, and offered him one free evening of magic just to see if the idea was right for him. The response was amazing. Luckily, I never turned that car around, because all three restaurants hired me this way. This was the very beginning of my magical career.

 

I very quickly realized that it was time for me to design some business cards and build a website. Fortunately, I had great friends who offered to help me out with this (Thank you… you know who you are). I remember being dressed as a magician, jumping on my trampoline with a deck of cards trying to capture the perfect image of me flying through the air, springing a deck cards from one hand to another, while smiling into the camera. Sounds crazy but it made for the perfect picture on my business card.

 

Once the website and business cards were made, I started passing out my cards at each table that I performed for in the restaurants. It really didn’t take long until I started booking private shows on the weekends. The great part is that the advantages are double:  I truly believe that performing in restaurants has helped the restaurants’ business just as much as it has helped mine (another blog on this later…).

 

By then, my magic was picking up. At one point, I was performing at four restaurants a week during the evenings and weekends, while still working my full time job as a carpenter during the day and booking private shows on the weekends.

At that point, I knew that I would be making a full time transition soon, but was still determined to finish my third and final year of the carpenter’s apprenticeship program.  There were times where I had to turn down magic shows because I had to go to work (this was heart breaking!).

 

Two years ago today, I quit my full time job to attempt performing full time. Almost everyone I knew thought I was nuts, but I didn’t care because I truly believed in myself. I didn’t have to convince anyone; I only had to prove to myself that it was possible, and I knew that it was. In fact, there were only three people out of all my friends and family that believed in me (again, you know who you are!). Even my family members told me not to do it. I’ll never forget the day, only a few months ago, when my father said over a dinner, “Kevin, you proved me wrong. You did what I thought you couldn’t. Good for you.” Thanks Dad!

 

It was a rough start at first. In fact, after four months, I had to go back to work temporarily to make ends meet. But within just a couple of months I was back to performing full time again and I haven’t looked back since.

 

As of now, I perform every weekend, all year round, and every day during the summer. I still perform at restaurants in Ottawa every weekend as well. During the week I usually work on marketing and practice new material.

 

One of the exciting things about my career is that it is still very new. There is still a TON of work to do and so much to learn.  I’m so excited to see where my magic will bring me over the coming years. I work on my business and practice every single day. Never once has it felt like work. I honestly feel as though I am retired and just enjoying life :-) .

 

Because of this, I encourage everyone to find and follow their dreams, their calling, their purpose. It really is the answer to true happiness. It doesn’t matter what it is; if it is your passion, just do it. If it is truly your passion, you will become very good at what you do and will be able to charge good money for it. At first, it will feel like a ton of work because you will be working your day job and trying to follow your passion at the same time. It can be overwhelming and at times you may want to give up. But if you commit yourself and work hard it will pay off once the ball is rolling. I built my business while working a full time job. I remember working some 15 hour days and falling asleep with a deck of cards in my hands at night.

 

Now I have no boss and I sleep in everyday. If you love your job, you will never work a day in your life. How great is that? When you work for yourself, the sky is the limit: you can aim high, shoot high, and dream big.

 

When I was younger, I remember reading positive words like “faith, believe, love, and hope” in pictures on walls or in works of art. I never realized the power of these words until later in life. If you put their true meanings into action, I guarantee you that good things will happen.

 

That’s my story, thanks for reading.  Feel free to like and share. I’ll blog about my career again in a few years and I’m already excited to read it.

 

Kevin Smith

 

 

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