As a magician in the Philippines, I have heard more times than I’d care to count the phrase “magic is an art” bandied about by some well-meaning magicians.
I doubt many magic performances on YouTube pass that criteria (lots of them make me cry, but for other reasons).
Judges on Got Talent franchises in many parts of the world don’t seem to regard highly the artistry of magic. The public, according to an urban legend research, ranks magic second to the bottom of the list of artists according to their respectability. But all this is another topic for a future musing on this blog.
Granting without conceding that magic is an art, then magicians qualify for the title artist.
However, I think professional magicians should not limit themselves to being artists. They must also aspire to be artisans and craftspersons. Meaning, they are not only skilled in their craft, they are also able to produce work at a moment’s notice. Like a faucet, they should be able to produce new routines, acts or shows at the turn of the valve.
In other words, a professional magician in the Philippines is not just an artist—rather, he is also a commercial artist.
Craftsmen and artisans can produce woodwork, iron work, furniture, skyscrapers, ships, and airplanes to the specifications of the client. Usually they deliver their finished work on schedule.
Writers turn in scripts and columns under rigid conditions and short deadlines. Composers write beautiful songs without waiting for inspirations. The same thing with painters and choreographers and many other artists. If they are of the commercial kind, they work on a set schedule with laser focus attention and get their jobs done.
Yes, there are artists who wait for inspirations, invoke all sorts of excuses not to turn in their finished work until the last minute or even beyond the deadline. This attitude may have worked many years ago but not anymore today. Artists who wait for inspirations will most likely starve in today’s cutthroat competition in his industry.
So if you are professional magician in the Philippines, ask yourself a question. Are you an artsy artist or a commercial artist?
If you go into magic for the aesthetic practice of it, then wait for inspiration to get your work done.