magician shawn preston
sleight of hand magician

What's It Like to BE A Working Pro Magician

Shawn Preston is one of the greats in the world of sleight of hand magic.  

He’s one of Colorado’s top magicians which makes him one of the nations top magicians. He also happens to be a seriously fun, interesting and clever man.

There are so many things about this interview that I found fascinating.

The first point is that, like so many other successful people I interview on this podcast, he is a guy whose passion aligns with his job. Wait till you hear the interview… But you’re going to be amazed at how a guy who saw magic tricks as a very young child became quickly obsessed. When other kids were playing video games, he was hanging out at magic shops hoping to learn a trick or a tip. When his high school and college aged friends were goofing around, he was manipulating his work schedule in order to see live magic.  Hearing the passion he has for magic and sleight of hand, it is no surprise that he decided to become a professional magician.

I’ll be curious as to your thoughts about this passion-leads-to-excellence theme.

Another theme I found interesting is that Shawn, like so many artists, had to make a very difficult choice.  Did he stay with a regular job with a regular paycheck and benefits? Or did he make the crazy leap and decide to pursue his passion and art full-time? I’ve made that choice myself. It’s terrifying. But it can be totally rewarding. Hearing the process by which Shawn made that decision — that leap to full-time magician — was really interesting. 

Along those lines, it didn’t seem too surprising that his parents were supportive — at least to point.  I think every parent struggles a bit when their kid chooses to be a performer or artist.  Sound familiar?

I won’t summarize the entire interview, but allow me to emphasize something else interesting that came up:  the difference between knowing a magic trick and being a magician. 

Shawn describes his first job as a magician in a restaurant. (Yes, “restaurant magician” is a real thing. They are magicians who perform tableside in restaurants as a hospitality feature.). By the time Shawn had that job he was very skilled at sleight of hand. But his first night on the job at a restaurant meant realizing that being a magician required two very different skills. First of all you have to understand how to execute these very difficult magic tricks. But the second required skill is how to be an entertainer. How do you connect with an audience in a personal way that makes them want to see your art? How do you connect with them in a way that makes them feel comfortable and happy to spend time with you?

Clearly, based on his body of work, and his long track record of success, Shawn has figured it out.  Again, he’s one of our top pros. 

Look up Shawn.  He’s amazing.  And if you’re lucky enough to share an Old Fashioned with him, count yourself lucky. 

Thanks Shawn. 

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