Advice: Questions

It’s a typical Tuesday in the life of Shawn. I slept in a bit but was still able to see Hannah off to school. I watched a little YouTube, scanned my FaceBook account, read all my emails and even drove out to a suppliers for my other magic company,Palmer Magic. It’s almost noon and now I get to start working…

It seems more and more each day I get messages on FaceBook, YouTube and via email asking me to help guide new magicians. I say new magicians, because many of them are not young, just new to magic. I try my best to answer all the questions and some say thanks while others just vanish after their question has been answered. I’m OK with that too. As a young man learning magic I asked a lot of questions and I fear I did not give thanks where thanks was deserved. I think those folks were OK with that too…

So why this post? Well most of the questions are very similar in nature and I was thinking this morning that maybe it would be much easier to make one post that answers many questions and then just refer them to this site. It is a little less personal, but it will be much faster for them to get a reply and will ease up a little of my time to do more of what I really love, magic.

So, with that in mind, here’s a few questions and answers. ( feel free to add your own answers, suggestions and comments below)

“Shawn, I have been trying my best to learn the art of magic. I can only learn so much just by myself. Is there anything you can tell me that will help jump start what I want to do for the rest of my life? plz help if you can.”

So, I’m a student of magic too and I want to do this for the rest of my life as well. I know I will always be a student because there is far too much to learn and as in all art, it is ever changing. I began my studies alone too and to be honest it was very difficult back then. These days there are tons of resources for the magician who live outside the proximity of local help. I think the three best things you can do to jump start your career are:

Define your character – who are you and why do you want to do magic?
Study magic books – DVD’s, online videos and packet tricks are cool but books are #1
Perform lots of shows – Practice first, but success only comes from performance.

Later in this post I will list a bunch of books I think you should read/study. It wan’t be a full and comprehensive list, just those books I have read and think will benefit most magicians in general. Every once in awhile I will return to this post and add more that I think are relevant.

I am interested in learning card/street magic but I have no clue on how to learn. I was wondering if you could tell me how you learnt card magic and what is the best way to learn? (By yourself, from a video tutorial, book, etc).

I began my studies of magic with books from the local library in Summerside, PEI. The town had a population of just over 8,000 and the library had three books on magic. I checked them out week after week and when I began to perform I realized that the secrets were easily discoverable if someone went looking. I tried tell the librarian that I had lost the books and would be happy to pay a fine, but I’m a terrible liar and she quickly discovered the truth. I apologized and explained why I had try to deceive her in the first place. She told me that very few people had ever checked out the books and my secrets were probably really safe! I couldn’t believe that no one else wanted to know the secrets, ho could that be possible. Turns out few people really care how a trick is accomplished. I am happy I had to learn the “hard way”. It made me a better student.

These days I think a combination of many mediums is the best solution. Read books, watch videos from multiple sources on the effect you wish to master and then video tape your self practicing to see what needs to be improved. Finally, go out and do it for real people. Not just your social circle… real people. It’s hard finding a place to perform, but one you get the knack for it, the opportunities will present themselves more often. Do NOT film the effect and put it on YouTube and offer a tutorial! This is so not cool. Make others dig to find the material too… the quest to discover the secrets is half the journey …

Do you have any advice on how to get a restaurant gig?

Yes, I do have a lot of advice that worked for me and has subsequently worked for others who have tried my suggestions.
Since it is a big subject I will write about it in a separate post.

What do I need to know to get started in the cruise ship business?

This is another huge subject and I know many people will have various opinions. Mine is based on living on ships most of my adult life. I began cruising in the Spring of 1983 and still work often for the finest vessels in fleets like Disney Cruise Line.
I wrote a column for the International Brotherhood of Magicians magazine, the Linking Ring. The column was called “Approachable” and this question was a topic for two months.

This is by no means a complete list:


  • Royal Road to Card Magic – Jean Hugard
  • Expert Card Techniques – Jean Hugard / Frederick Braue
  • Card Cavalcade Series – Jerry Mentzer
  • Card College Series – Roberto Giobbi
  • The Complete Walton – Roy Walton
  • Scarne on Card Tricks – John Scarne
  • Anything by Paul Harris


  • Encyclopedia of Silk Magic – Rice  ( Do NOT buy the newest volume! – Vol #4 is terrible )

Close Up:

  • Anything by Paul Harris
  • Simply Harkey – David Harkey
  • Books of Wonder – Tommy Wonder
  • Modern Coin Magic – JB Bobo
  • The Magic of Michael Ammar – Michael Ammar

General Magic:

  • Tarbell Course of Magic – Harland Tarbell
  • Books of Wonder – Tommy Wonder
  • Approaching Magic – David Regal
  • Korem without Limits – Danny Korem
  • Stars of Magic – George Starke
  • The Dai Vernon Book of Magic – Lewis Ganson
  • Amateur Magicians Handbook – Henry Hay

Other Reading:

  • Whack to the side of the Head – Roger Von Oech
  • Hustle Hustle – Joel Bauer
  • How to win friends and influence people – Dale Carnegie
  • Maximum Entertainment – Ken Weber
  • Anything by Jim Steinmeyer

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