The Illusionist Vs the Magician

The Illusionist Vs the Magician


Are you a magician or an illusionist? What difference does it make?

If you think that you are better than any stage, close-up or kids magicians because you perform illusions, think again!

Within the magic community there tends to be an implicit distinction (and at times snobbish segregation) between different kinds of magicians. Stage magicians think they are better than close-up magicians, straight magicians think they are better than comedy magicians, close-up magician think they are better than kid show magicians and mentalists think they are an elite breed, better than any other kind of magical performer.

The truth is, each form of magic requires its own unique set of skills, techniques and experiences in order to be successful in. Each form has its own specialized difficulties and challenges that require years of mastery, rehearsal and practice. So, to look down on another type of magician is ludicrous.

Having said the above, the purpose of this essay is not to tackle a ‘social’ issue but is to examine the need to make a distinction between the illusionist and the (regular) magician.

Is there a real need to make a distinction between the two? The short answer is ‘Yes’.

However, the distinction has nothing to do with the ‘superior’ abilities of the illusionist. But, the distinction becomes essential when marketing yourself as a magical entertainer.

double levi 2Sean Alexander performing the “Double Levitation”

Remember, show business is two words, ‘show’ and ‘business’. In business, you need to differentiate yourself form the competition and create a strong position for yourself. If you perform illusions, billing yourself as an illusionist will help create a strong business advantage.

Illusions are generally accepted as ‘big’ magic where the effects created are generally larger in scale involving larger props, persons or animals. Illusions are considered more difficult as it is assumed that bigger effects require more expertise to stage. As such consumers (the lay audience and entertainment industry) generally perceive illusionists as a grade up from regular magicians and confer upon them a higher market value.

Consumers hold illusionists in higher regard and thinks that an illusionist has a higher status than a magician. While is sad for the general magic art and community, this stereotype works in favour of the illusionist.

Thus, the distinction between the illusionist and the magician is important and relevant commercially, for the sake of marketability.As an illusionist, you can command a higher show fee than a magician as consumers are willing to pay more for a better/ bigger show.

SquisherDavid Davinci performing Greg Frewin’s “Squisher” illusion

While selling yourself as an illusionist does increase your perceived market value, you have to live up to that billing. Make sure that the show you present is reflective of what consumers expect from an illusionist. Owning and performing an ‘illusionette’ like an ‘Arm Chopper’ does not qualify you as an illusionist in the real world. Use world-class illusion shows as a benchmark for what consumers will expect from your show.

You can expect to invest to invest a significant amount of effort, time, money and resources in building an illusion show. That is also one reason why an illusionist ‘needs’ to be paid more than a magician because his capital outlay is generally much more than a magician. You could realistically build a solid magic show for under US$1000 but probably not a decent illusion show.

If you are seriously thinking about distinguishing yourself as an illusionist to advance your magical career, check out the articles on “Business & Marketing” in this resource site.


Learn how to book more shows that pay more, check out the Backstage Business Academy, a website dedicated to creating highly successful entertainers

Backstage Business Academy Header 2