As a child, do you remember watching a magic act on tv, or sitting in the audience of a magic show, wondering just how in the world did that rabbit come out of a hat? Or how things disappear and reappear like nothing? Let’s be honest, as adults, we’re probably just as curious. Though we don’t have the answers to all the tricks that are up a magician’s sleeve, we do have some insight from one of our awesome customers and full-time magician, Matt Matthews. Matt is from Connecticut and performs professionally under the name Magician Matt Matthews, formerly known as “Matt the Balloon Man.” He specializes in magic shows for children and families, including birthday party magic shows, library shows, and school shows. Matt also owns and operates The Party Troupe, a talent agency for magicians, face painters, balloon artists, and more, currently serving clients in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York.
He has two daughters who occupy most of his time when he’s not performing, but he tells us that their interests feed directly back into his work as a children’s entertainer.
Matt has been a customer of ours for a few years now, using GotPrint’s materials for both marketing purposes and to create special magic tricks to give away to his customers. We had the pleasure of talking to him to learn more about his career and life as a magician (he even shares one of his tricks with us!).
How did you start out as a magician and what inspired you to do so?
My parents were divorced for as long as I can remember, so when I was a kid I used to spend the weekends with my dad. He wasn’t really a magician, per se, but he really liked magic. There was a local hobby shop in town that had this spinner rack of magic tricks. Every week he would buy a new one to show me that weekend. He’d show me the trick, then teach me how it was done, and I’d spend the rest of the weekend just playing with that one trick and seeing what I could do with it. I loved magic, but to me, magic was this thing you bought at a hobby shop. Then one day at school I found a how-to book on magic tricks in my school library! It was full of all kinds of magic, including magic you could make at home. That’s when it clicked for me that magic was something you could create on your own.
What type of audience do you cater to?
I primarily cater to children. A lot of magicians look down on kid’s magicians like it’s unsophisticated or something, but I absolutely love it. I’m really just a big kid at heart, so when I’m performing magic I’m just playing a big idiot. I’m a foil to the children who get to be the stars of the show. So I bring kids up on stage with me and they bop me on the head with magic wands, or I get them say “go” instead of “grow” and something that was supposed to get bigger disappears. With kids you can be silly like that. You can guide them into messing up your show, and they go crazy for it. I love that stuff!
What is your favorite magic trick to perform?
The vanishing silk. It’s a classic magic trick. I don’t know if it’s actually the first trick I ever learned, but in my memory it is. I vividly remember my father teaching it to me, then showing me — to my absolute amazement — how it was done. I spent countless hours just performing that trick to myself in the mirror. It’s such a beautiful and visually incredible trick. To this day I still perform it in almost every show I do!
How do you stay motivated and inspired to do magic?
It’s like anything. There are times when the muse is strong and times when you need a break. When I’m not feeling it I’ll give myself permission to take a little time off. I mean – I still perform professionally all the time, so I’m never fully putting magic away. But sometimes I let my brain take a break from it. When I do that, invariably, after not too long I come back to it full of inspiration and new ideas. But I also find inspiration in other things. I’m a big theme park fan. My wife and I take our kids to the local theme parks in the summer and we love to go to Disney World when we can. Anytime I go somewhere like that with live entertainment I’m filled with inspiration. I’m usually thinking up ideas for my show before I even leave the park.
What’s the hardest part about being a professional magician?
At times it can be a lonely, isolating experience. For starters, in my business, I have no coworkers. When you run your own, one-man company, you’re it. But also, practicing and rehearsing new material is tough. Unlike most forms of theater, I’m always performing a one-man show, so I’m not bouncing ideas off of co-stars or a director. And when you’re learning something that takes technical skill, that can mean spending hours and hours by yourself, in front of a mirror, just learning through repetition.
What’s the most rewarding part about being a professional magician?
The payoff to all those hours spent practicing is when you get on stage. And usually, my stage is just someone’s living room at a birthday party. But that stage is an intoxicating thing. When you’re on for 45 minutes and you’ve got a whole room of kids and parents laughing their butts off, that feels great. I understand why rock stars keep performing into their 70s! There’s nothing quite like standing in front of a group of people who are loving what you’re doing.
How do you use GotPrint products to promote/share your work?
So first, of course, I use GotPrint for normal things, like business cards [for marketing purposes]. I have also had my own bookmarks made to use as souvenirs at my summer reading library shows (this is a big market for magicians). But the really cool thing I’ve done is that I use your business cards to create a magic trick.
How do you use prints in your magic routine and how did you come up with this idea?
The trick with business cards is a classic magic trick called the “Two Card Monte.” Traditionally, this trick uses two playing cards that are specially printed: one card has the face of a playing card on both sides and one card has the back of a playing card on both sides (this is the secret to the trick). I found that if I used business cards from GotPrint with rounded corners, the finished product looks an awful lot like a playing card. It’s a little smaller (only by a quarter of an inch, though), but they look awesome.
Then I realized that GotPrint’s folded business cards would make awesome packaging for the trick! So I print these up by the thousands now. I take one double face card, one double back card, and one instructions/package card and rubber band them together. Then I hand them out for free at all of my shows. And because I’m printing them with your services, of course, I am able to include my branding on them as well! Because of the high quality of the print, the resulting product and its packaging looks and feels awesome.
I also made up another cool trick using a standard business card. This single card has four rows. The object is to think of a number between one and 16. The magician then asks the spectator to look at the card and identify which rows their number is in. Once they do this, the magician is able to correctly name their number.
This trick uses a mathematics principle and it’s SUPER simple. In order to correctly guess their number, you simply add the last number of any row that their number is into the last number of any other row that their number is in. For example, if you’re thinking of the number 7, you’ll see that 7 is in rows B, C, and D. The last numbers of those rows are 4, 2, and 1, which, when added together equals 7. This works for every number between one and fifteen. (If their number isn’t in any row, their number is 16)
This is essentially just a normal business card, but I give it away and teach people how to do the trick, which I think leads them to keep it around in their wallets longer so they can have some fun with the friends performing the trick!
What would you say to your younger self if you could go back in time?
I’ve got a great life and no major regrets. So if given the chance, I would just tell myself to keep doing what he’s doing because it turns out pretty cool!
What advice would you give to people looking to make a career out of their talents?
There are no shortcuts and no one’s journey is a straight line between point A and point B. Setbacks are a part of progression, so don’t let that get you down. If you’re passionate about it, let that guide you. But also give yourself permission to enjoy other things. Once you make a career out of the thing you did for fun, you need a new thing you do for fun to decompress when you’ve had a hard day at the office. That’s the same whether your office is a traditional office or a stage.
A special thank you to Matt Matthews for the insightful interview! We hope it will inspire those who think outside of the box and wish to make a career out of something they love.
We’d love to hear from you! How do you use GotPrint materials? Let us know in the comments below.