Getting Started in Close-Up Magic

As Vanishing Inc. is one of the largest magic shops in the world, we have more than 15,000 magic tricks for sale. This includes magic books and magic downloads to card and coin tricks, mind reading tricks, rope magic, virtual magic tricks and everything in between. While we also carry stage magic illusions, we definitely consider ourselves specialists in close-up magic.

woman amazed by close-up magic trick mint-o

Beyond being a ton of fun, close up magic offers a ton of benefits for kids and adults. It is a great confidence booster and can make you a better public speaker. As close-up magic can be performed anywhere without any fancy props, it’s also a great way to impress potential clients or just amaze friends and family at the next card game night.

If you’ve read this far, you probably already have some interest in learning magic tricks or learning card tricks. Maybe you learned some prop bets or bar tricks after binge-watching a season of Penn and Teller: Fool Us. Maybe you fell in love with magic after watching Mat Franco or Shin Lim win America’s Got Talent. Or maybe you just really want to know how your uncle pulled that quarter from your ear when you were a kid.

No matter the reason why you’re here, keep reading to learn about getting started in close-up magic.

What is Close-Up Magic?

magician in black jacket performs close up magic card trick Switch One for woman in green top

Close-up magic is a special genre of magic tricks performed in an intimate setting for small groups of people. Instead of being seated in a large theater, the audience is rarely more than an arm’s length away from the magician. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that allows audiences to feel like they’re part of the amazing magic tricks happening right in front of their eyes.

Besides the distance between the magician and their audience, the props and techniques used for close-up magic are vastly different than the stage magic you’d see in a las vegas magic show from David Copperfield, Penn and Teller or Criss Angel. Close-up magicians do not perform classic magic tricks like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, sawing a woman in half or the chinese linking rings.

Close-up magicians typically use magic props like playing cards for card magic tricks, coins and bills for money magic tricks, ropes, rings, invisible thread, flash paper or dice. Even the oldest magic trick in the book, the cups and balls, is a staple in the repertoire of many close-up magicians.

Beyond being more convenient to carry, these small props are often easier to manipulate. That is why close-up magicians will often use more sleight of hand or cardistry flourishes in their magic effects than a stage magician.

magician Justin Willman from netflix's magic for humans

Believe it or not, the popularity of close-up magic is actually quite new in comparison with the lengthy history of magic tricks. For many years, one of the only ways to experience magic tricks up close was through a parlor magic show. Also known as platform magic or stand-up magic, parlor magic is slightly different than stage magic. It usually take place in more intimate venues, with smaller audiences and less elaborate props (like Steven Cohen’s “Chamber Magic”, one of the best magic shows in New York City).

Today, tv magic specials from magicians like David Blaine, Dynamo, Michael Carbonaro and Justin Willman have made close-up magic more popular than ever. Especially street magic, an informal style of close-up magic that was brought into the mainstream by David Blaine’s late-90’s television special David Blaine: Street Magic.

Often done in public spaces, street magic is a guerilla style of magic where the magician approaches random people and performs magic tricks. This is the most common type of magic trick performed on TikTok, YouTube or Instagram. Street magic is also different than the more formal magic shows performed in public areas by street performers and buskers.

How to Learn Close Up Magic

Learning close-up magic tricks is easier than you’d think. Most close-up magic tricks use everyday objects like an ordinary deck of playing cards (like the Bicycle Playing Cards you probably already own) or a few coins. In some cases, like easy mentalism tricks or feats of mind reading that use cold reading, you don’t need any magic props at all. You just need to know where to start.

Learn Free Magic Tricks at the Library

The library is one of the best ways to get started in close-up magic. Head to section 793.8 to find some of the best magic books for beginners. Look for books like Mark Wilson’s Complete Course in Magic, Joshua Jay’s MAGIC: The Complete Course, or any other beginner magic book with a wide variety of magic tricks for you to learn.

Vanishing Inc. also has a large selection of recommended magic books for beginners that you can choose from like The Royal Road to Card Magic by Jean Hugard and Frederick Braue or Roberto Giobbi’s Card College.

Magic Downloads and Videos

If you’re more of a visual learner, there are also tons of magic downloads and magic DVDs for you to learn magic tricks or learn card tricks from. These are high-quality magic tutorials created by expert magicians. Which is very different from the free magic tricks on YouTube that are often being taught by amateur magicians.

Don’t get us wrong, there are some helpful YouTube channels teaching magic tricks. However, for the most part, many YouTubers are attempting to teach magic tricks that they have not yet perfected themselves. Therefore, learning magic tricks from these videos could potentially cause you to adapt bad habits and fundamentals.

Instead, we suggest starting with a professional magic video geared toward beginner magicians that offers an array of magic tricks and essential sleight of hand moves. Examples include Michael Ammar’s “Easy to Master Card Miracles”, Ryan Schlutz’s “Super Strong, Super Simple”, or even Paul Wilson’s video adaption of the iconic “Royal Road to Card Magic” book.

Find Other Magicians

close-up magician Karl Hein performs a money magic trick at the magifest magic convention

The best part about magic is the community. Magicians are often very willing to reveal their magic trick secrets and help other magicians. This is why so many magicians love hanging out at brick and mortar magic stores or jamming with magicians at magic conventions.

If you don’t have a magic store near you, look online to see if there is a local affiliate of the International Brotherhood of Magicians or Society of American Magicians in your area. You can also do a google search for local magicians and politely offer to take them to lunch or coffee.

Learn Close Up Magic Tricks for Free

We have a ton of resources to help you learn magic tricks for free. This includes a complete card magic course that you can download for free! This awesome video teaches you 10 amazing card tricks and 10 fundamental card magic moves.

vanishing inc magic team of magicians at magic convention

We’re Here to Help

Learning and performing magic tricks is a ton of fun. But, if you ever need help, just contact us. Every member of the Vanishing Inc. team is a professional magician that is ready to help you learn to do magic tricks.