Magic for Magicians

When professional and amateur magicians get together to practice new tricks and give each other feedback, they call it an "IGOM:" an Informal Gathering of Magicians. If you're lucky enough to go to one, you'll see them perform some of the most technically sophisticated and difficult tricks in their repertoire, requiring exotic devices or blistering sleights of hand. Even if you've watched every episode of Breaking the Magician's Code, you'll still find yourself saying, "How'd she do that?" 

These tricks are almost never performed for the public. Why? They're too difficult. There's too much chance of something going wrong. And most importantly, the general public won't appreciate the artistry of the trick. "Laypeople," as magicians call them, don't have enough knowledge of the craft to recognize the skill that they're seeing. Instead, most magicians perform the bullet-proof tricks that they’ve done a thousand times already. The linking rings may raise gasps of awe from laypeople, but if someone pulls them out at an IGOM, they'll get groans and eyerolls. At IGOMs, there’s a saying: “magic for magicians.” IGOMs are a chance to test your skill among sophisticated professionals who will appreciate the talent behind it. IGOMs are tacit permission to show off how good you are.

There are IGOMs in every industry. Visual practitioners have Facebook, Instagram, and the IFVP conference. Who hasn’t looked at someone else’s work online and thought, “How’d she do that?” The answer is the same for both magicians and visual practitioners: talent and years of practice. And on Facebook, visual practitioners are posting their best work to share with other visual practitioners. They’re posting magic for magicians.

Visual practitioners working on teams compare work, learn from each other, and adopt each other’s methods. That’s the strength of being on a team: seeing fresh examples, getting ideas, and receiving rapid feedback on your own attempts. I’m trying hard to pick up lettering from Heather Martinez and comic book layouts from Trent Wakenight. The push to get better is a powerful, healthy motivator.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that, for the participants, it’s all magic. Last week, I watched a (non-visual) facilitator do the old “rotate your finger above your head, now move your hand down to your waist, and see how it changed directions” thingy. I may have groaned (internally), but it generated gasps of awe from an audience of several hundred participants. Most people have never seen what we do before. You don’t have to be David Copperfield or David Sibbet to achieve breakthroughs with your participants. Don’t let the push to get better stop you from pulling out your linking rings*.

*My own "linking rings" is the Grove’s Graphic Gameplan. You can facilitate just about any conversation on that sucker. It’s bullet-proof, and it never fails to help groups achieve breakthrough.