Recently, Ning wrote her thoughts of current mainstream perception of magic and originality in magic. It is all so true that the commercially successful ones are the ones that stand out.
In magic, ‘me-too’ magicians are rampant! In a single country, a large majority of the magicians dress the same, style themselves the same way, say the same lines, perform the same acts, target the same markets, behave and think the same.
Sometimes when I look at the multiple videos on YouTube, I find it hilarious and sad at the same time when I see everyone looking the same. This goes for all fields of magic; from street magic to grand illusions.
Ning and I have watched in horror at David Blaine & Criss Angel wannabes who dress and try to talk like him. Bling bling, eyeliner and ripped jeans work for him, otherwise you look like a drugged-up poser unfortunately.
We are bored by the illusionists who use the same music and have the obligatory girls, dancing, prancing, posing and gesturing that Copperfield made his own in the late 80s! We are coming to 2010… after almost 30 years, it is time for illusionists to evolve.
But, I also know for a fact that this is not confined to just magic. Just think of rock bands from the late 80s and early 90s… long hair, leather pants, shirtless performances with low hung electric guitars. Every band looked like that.
And don’t get me wrong.. . there are more than a handful of magicians/ illusionists worldwide who are very successful in their own markets and make good money, even if they are not international household names. But, these individuals or duos have mainstream success in their respective countries.
(One thing to bear in mind is the strength of the US media and its influence on pop culture worldwide. This is a reason why the international household names tend to be American.)
In magic or really any creative field, being original makes the artist stand out. But, what many creative artists fail to see is that there are many facets to being original.
Many purists have a singular perception of originality and feel being original means that you have to be unique in either technique or the final product (performance or artwork).
This is why many purists often create original techniques or products that tend to have little mass AKA commercial appeal. They forget that the rest of the world (public & media) have other views of what is original.
There are in fact many ways that Commercial Creative Artists (CCAs) can be original. Here are 10 of ways:
2) Finished Product
4) Showcasing the craft in non-traditional markets
5) Bringing a Unique/ Non-traditional Character to the Art
6) Publicity & Promotions
7) Showcasing the craft in different mediums
8 ) Collaboration with Non-traditional Partners
9) Combining the art with different art forms
10) Being different from what everyone is currently doing
Creative individuals will be able to come up with another 10 ways to be original. In fact, CCAs can also combine any of the above ways in different permutations to create even more ways to be original.
While there are many ways to be original, a CCA must also work within their strengths and strive to be original in that area. Many CCAs fail to be recognize this fundamental principle and therefore work in areas that they cannot excel in.
Those that recognize their strengths and are creative in being original based on their strengths generally start on the right track towards being commercially successful.
Of course, the next mountainess challenge is to ensure that the original angle has mass appeal that translates to commercial value…. but that is another story altogether 🙂