How did you get into magic?
I am frequently asked how I got into performing magic, as it’s not exactly a common hobby or career choice!
I first became interested in magic at the age of 9 in 1997 – unsurprisingly, while watching a magician who deceived, educated and entertained me all at once at a magic stall in Milton Keynes. I was so enthused that my dad bought me a box of tricks, and then my mum noticed that I was taking it seriously – to the point where I’d wake her up at five in the morning to show her a new trick – so she introduced me to a local magic convention. I kept practising, and then joined the Young Magicians Club and the Northampton Magic Club a year later.
I don’t remember much from those early years, but I do remember my Houdini Magic Set – and I still remember some of those tricks. They were basic, but I was fascinated by how magic manipulates people into believing – and questioning what’s real and what isn’t.
When I was 12. I was introduced to a man at the Northampton Magic Club named Matthew Garrett. He pushed me further, from the basic tricks to full blown effects, and he taught me about the performance aspect of magic, too – which is just as important as the tricks themselves.
By 13 I was striving to be the best magician in the UK, so I entered the Young Magician of the Year at The Magic Circle. I qualified for the final of the biggest competition I’d ever entered, and also the biggest magic competition in Europe but unfortunately my nan passed away a week before the final – performing was understandably hard, and I broke down on stage during rehearsals.
The rest of my family travelled to watch me perform, but I had given up. My mum gave me the courage to give it my best for my nan, so I performed. I qualified through several stages in the finals and finished in fourth place.
To the side is an old video of me performing for the local news channel in Buckinghamshire, which was when I was practicing for Young Magician of the Year.
By 2005 I’d won many competitions and awards and had been seen on TV. I was in a pilot for Thames Television at the age of 15 performing magic with Stephen Mulhern for a programme called Wannabe Wizards. I also performed at the Open University for the Citizen Business Awards, Debenhams in Banbury, and had a long contract with the Hilton Hotel in Watford. This all happened before I was even 16. Magic!
I wanted to leave school and become a professional magician, so I did work experience for an entertainment agency named Magical Mayhems in Olney. I learnt about marketing, organisation, and the business side of the industry from a man named David Pibworth. The work experience placement originally called for basic business admin, but David soon learned that I was a magician – so he let me get hands-on to help set up staging, lighting and more… I loved it.
Moving from school to Sixth Form, I studied a BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts and was awarded with three triple merits, and Stantonbury Campus said that our group were the “Highest achievers in the BTEC National Diploma that Stantonbury has ever experienced” – Stantonbury Campus.
After Sixth Form I moved to Staffordshire University, where I studied Drama, Performance and Theatre Arts. I didn’t entirely plan this move, but it gave me confidence, teamwork skills and more education about the entertainment industry. I still aim to be a professional magician, and I’m trying to turn this dream into a reality.
When practicing I become enthralled with fire magic – and I had access to lighter fluid, flash paper, and other flammable products. I thought it would be a great idea to fill a shot glass with all of those things and set it alight in the living room. The ball of fire flew upwards and left a black mark on the ceiling just as my mum walked in. She wasn’t impressed.
Still, I kept trying new things. I made my own props, kept practicing in the living room, and added more to my on-stage props and routines – wheels for easy movement, better lighting, improved curtains, slicker designs.
Paul Daniels has always been an idol, not just as a magician, but also as an entertainer. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Paul, and he was the most heart-warming and inspirational man – a person who has entertained millions of people across multiple generations.
I met Paul at a magic convention in Milton Keynes, and I don’t remember any of the magic tricks that he taught me. But I do remember that he told me to believe in the magic that I was performing – and that’s one of the best magic tricks you can ever learn.
All of this was just the beginning – I’m now a professional magician who performs at weddings, parties and corporate events.
“Oh my god you’re a wizard Steven!!! ^_^ It was great to meet you too, fingers crossed we’ll catch each other at an event soon!” — Tabitha, Artyfakes
I'd like to say thank you to James Lawson for taking these photos, and I really hope you managed to catch some of the magic and enjoyed it too. I am looking forward to the next Insomnia Gaming Festival!
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