The Successful Entertainers – The World Chapions of Magic

The Successful Entertainers – The World Chapions of Magic

“You don’t get success just like that, the game of having success is long”

A few years ago Marcel and Aquila discovered to combine their talents, the art of magic with storytelling and strong visuals. This cooperation has transformed the way of performing magic drastically in the entertainment world. They are the first who created an illusion show with a logical storyline from begin till end. The illusions are not just tricks but the décor of the story. The showgirls have given place for mysterious characters. The illusionist is not the macho hero anymore but the protagonist in the story, in the case of Nightmares he plays the antihero. That’s why they have changed their artist and company name into MAGUS UTOPIA. A name that stands for a magical and imaginary world… (Source – magusutopia.com)

Interwiev made by Sebastian & Kristina during the performance in TRIKSTARS show in Kuala Lumpur!

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Nightmears and Sebastian & Kristina -Trikstars/Kuala Lumpur

Marcel:               I am Marcel Kalisvaart. I’m 31 years old. I live in Holland together with Aquila, who’s going to introduce himself later, I built the company Magus Utopia.

Aquila:               I’m Aquila. I’m 27 years old. My background, I’m a designer and I’m working in magic world now for about six years. It’s been a lot of fun and inspiration.

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Marcel

Kristina:             How you became magicians and why?

Marcel:               I was 10 years old and I got a magic box from my father for Christmas, like most magicians and it just interested me. I thought it was so interesting to amaze people and I just kept doing it. I found out there was a magic shop nearby so I went there to buy my first professional trick. And then, they told there were like magic clubs. So I was like, “Oh, I definitely have to go there.” I called them right away and go to the magic club. There, I met magic friends and told me there were magic days and competitions. My interest always moved on and moved on. And then suddenly, I wanted to become and illusionist when I was 15 years old.   I started building something, and my father saw that and was like, “That looks really cool. I want to help you.” A toolmaker can do a lot of things with metal and wood so he helped me out in building things. Step by step, it started getting bigger and bigger.

magus-utopia-nightmears
Aquila

Kristina:              And for you Aquila?

Aquila:                I’m not a magician but I work with magicians. My background is a designer so I’m a graphic designer. I met Marcel eight years ago and I had my own substitute and Marcel as well. Suddenly, I saw the show and I saw the show with other eyes – not like with magician’s eyes with the colors and lines and characters and stories. Suddenly, we started working together. We created Nightmares.

Kristna:         How did you come up with the idea for Nightmares?

Marcel:               It’s been a long time that I actually want to work with the story but I never actually knew how. I always wanted to work with characters, with logic and story but it’s always very difficult. I didn’t know how. I didn’t have the knowledge. Then, I met Aquila and I told him my ideas that I want work with a story. He used to make stories since he was a child. You were like 5 or 6?

Aquila:                Yeah, something like that.

Kristina:         Why the horror story? Because of Walking Dead?

magus-utopia-nightmears1
The Nightmears

Aquila:               No not really. I’m dark from inside and Marcel as well. We have kind of a passion for the dark world and all like that. It’s also much more interesting because we have the bed (illusion box invented by Marcel) so wanted to have a dream. But a dream is like boring … you know… Fairy, flying and stuff. People don’t want to see that. People want to see… Adventure and problems.

Kristina:         What is important in a magic or Illusion act?

Marcel:              I think originality because originality brings you everywhere. Otherwise, they will say, “We’ve had that before.” Also, it has to be strong and visual,entertaining, very magical and strong effects.

Aquila           We mean like the effect is more like show presence. When you’re on stage, you have the x-factor. I also like to call it the sex-factor. It’s like the feeling you have that you want, “I want to buy them. I want to meet them because it’s so nice to look at that.” I call it sex-factor, actually.

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The amazing costume designs!

Kristina:          How important is the costume and costume design in a illusion or any special act?

Aquila:               I think it’s very important because the way you’re going to present yourself. It’s about being original.

Originality is not copying. You can be inspired but not copying somebody else. I think it’s important how you present that because that’s the way the audience is going to get the real intention.

Kristina:             What is the secret to create a successful act?

Marcel:               I think it’s never successful right away. To create success, you have to really go through failure. You have to fail and learn and learn and then, there will come a time when you think, “Hey, I learned so many things and now it’s even more successful.” To create something successful, it’s very complex because it has to deal with so many things. It has to deal with originality; it has to deal with strong characters; has to deal with strong music, your timing.

Aquila:               So many things. Like a movie, you have a movie but the movie has a good story but maybe doesn’t have a good visual. Nowadays, we have a green screen. Maybe the movie has a very good visual but a very bad story. So, it’s a combination of everything.

Marcel:               And then, it has to deal with your own power because you also have to promote, you have to do your management. And you also have to think how you’re going to do your logistics, your promotion. It’s working on everything to become successful. I believe marketing is very important – have a good website, have good photos, video and also connections. Also, have respect for everybody. Don’t be fake,be nice have respect for other artists and for your employer…. It’s the whole process actually. You wont become successful right away…

Kristina:             How did you choose your characters, your dancers in the act?

Aguila:                We normally do auditions. Lately we had an audition, more like 50-60 dancers came from all part of Holland. We got requests from Argentina, from Spain, France as well…They have to have something special,good dance education and some experience in work field. Strong presence and expression is very important!

Kristina:            What do you like most to be an entertainer?

Aquila:               It’s very nice. You get to meet cool people like you guys and like new places and culture and also giving people hope when you’re doing your show. They actually step out of the reality of the world. And suddenly, you have a fantastic world in a show. I think that’s the thing that I like.

Marcel:               I really like to…I really like to inspire people. So many people after the show they’re like, “Wow! I enjoyed it so much.” Like Aquila said, I really hope that they also have a hope and they like, “Hey I also want to create or make something out of my life ”

Kristina:             What was your biggest success and your biggest failure in your career?

Marcel:               I had so many failures in my career. My biggest failure was sometimes financially. If you hire people and see, “Okay, this is not going to work.” It costs a lot of money…. , Business-wise, sometimes it was not always a success.

 

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2012 – WORLD CHAMPION OF MAGIC (stage illusions) FISM official World Championships

But our biggest success when we won the World Chapions of Magic award in 2012 in Blackpool! The feeling was really good. We were thinking for years to compete and we really want to win it. We really want to come up with something new. You can only win it when you’re really, really original. On the championship was the first time we ever performed with Nightmares. That was very exciting. We didn’t know how the audience will react , Either they’re going to hate us or they’re going to love us. And we get standing ovation! And we won the prize! I was very proud. And one day after the World Championship, the whole Dutch Press was calling us, every big TV station, magazine… For the last three years, we’re working nonstop and even working with Double Team in China. Sometimes we have six shows in one day – three in China, three in Europe and it’s crazy. And sometimes three locations . We were in France but In the same night, we had a TV show in Germany.   And then, we were also performing in China.” Wow, we’re now like in three countrys with Nightmares.” We are very happy about that!

Krisitina:            If you could start over, would you choose the same path?

Marcel:               That’s difficult because now you know so many things… But I would choose the same because I’m very happy with my life.

Kristina:             What is your advice for the new generation?

magus-utopia-nightmears3
Be original but let yourself be inspired

Marcel:               We also get lectured with the magic community and stuff. Our advice is always be original but let yourself be inspired. You can pick up ideas.You can get something completely new. It’s not impossible to create something completely new because everything is already done. Just let yourself be inspired, and be creative. Follow your passion! Don’t copy! That’s my advice because otherwise you will be always just a copy, and you never will be the same who you copied! Copying others just because to earn fast money is just cheap entertianment! I believe in investment. The more you invest, the more money you earn back. We had thousands of Euros in our props and costumes and people see it. They’re like, “Wow, your props and costumes, they look so amazing.” That’s why people are booking us. We get more work and we ask a little more fee to get our investment back from what we did. If you think small, and if you don’t invest, you stay small, and cheap act, and you also will be booked for cheap markets.

Aquila: Focus on yourself and really fight for it. Don’t give up. You have to learn from your failures. We believe that actually mistakes doesn’t exist but only lessons. Every time something bad happens, it’s just a lesson and try to learn from it! Have a plan!! Plan your future! That’s very important We’re working on a five-year plan. We know what we want in five years! You don’t get success just like that. It needs time.
The game of having success is long. That’s why you need a plan.

Visit the amaizing website from Magus Utopia: www.magusutopia.com or like them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/magusutopia

AWARDS:

2013 – Best creativity and originality prize
China Circus Festival in Zhuhai

hans-klok-award
The Hans-Klok Award

2012 – WORLD CHAMPION OF MAGIC (stage illusions)
FISM official World Championships

2011 – Audience Award
Martin Hanson Winter Circus

2010 – Dutch Champion of Magic (Grand Prix)
NMU official Dutch Championships of Magic

2009 – International Jury Award
International Circus Festival Enschede, The Netherlands

2005 – Mandrake d’Or Award
Le Festival International de l’Illusion

2004 – Beijing Golden Dragon Magic Award
China Acrobats Association

2003 – Best illusionist Award
FISM official World Championships

2002 – Dutch Champion of Magic (Grand Prix)
NMU official Dutch Championships of Magic

2000 – Circus Herman Renz Trophy
Circus Herman Renz

1999 – 1st prize winner (junior)
NMU official Dutch Championships of Magic

1998 – 1st prize winner + audience award
NMU official Dutch Championships of Magic – Junior department

1997 – 1st prize winner + audience award
NMU official Dutch Championships of Magic – Junior department

 

The Successful Entertainers – The real live Cartoon

The Successful Entertainers – The real live Cartoon

“Magic is, to me, like the first miracle and man’s greatest achievement”

Daniel Sylvester Battagline, also known as Sylvester The Jester (born 1961), is an American magician, best known for playing a cartoon character who comes to life. He has had hundreds of stage and television appearances, He has performed in multiple Las Vegas shows including opening for The Amazing Johnathan, and appearing at Caesar’s Magical Empire. Sylvester the Jester has created numerous magic effects and gags, for his own act as well as for other performers. Effects performed in his act are self-fabricated, original designs intended to imitate classic American cartoons. (Source wikipedia)

Interwiev made by Sebastian & Kristina during the performance in TRIKSTARS show in Kuala Lumpur!

 

Kristina:              How you became magician and why?

Kristina:              How you became magician and why?

Daniel:               I really didn’t have much interest in magic when I was younger. I’d seen a couple of magicians before. But it didn’t spark my interest. But one day, I was really depressed, my mom had left permantly. And my dad, who was Usually like this crazy violent person was just sitting in his room and he was really depressed too. I was taking a shower that day and glanced over at the tile on the wall. It was cracked! I thought, “Oh, shit! my dad’s going to kill me.” Because no matter what went wrong I would always get blamed. But when I reach to touch it the crack moved! And suddenly I realized, “It wasn’t a crack at all, it’s just a hair.” This made my brain kind of explode because I a moment ago I was certain the tile was cracked. Then suddenly I my brain was spinning and I began to think like a magician. This concept of limited perception came into my head. The idea that when we look at something our brain imediately atempts to interpret the experience based on limited knowledge. And that led me to believe and to think about magic! Maybe that’s how magic works.. Its that we’re not certain about what we see so we make a quick decision but its wrong. Afterwards, I got out of the shower and took another look at that hair. But this time I looked at it from about an arm’s length and from that short distance the hair was invisible! And I said, “Wow, this must be how invisible thread works.” And I thought, ‘‘I guess it’s not really invisible, but under certain conditions you can’t see it. So I go scotch taped the hair to the Ace of Spades and I put it in the deck and I must have seen a rising card trick on the TV or something.. Anyway I just did this magic gesture around to cover the fact I wrapping the hair around my finger. I could make the card come out of the deck, move to right and left, and back down into the deck. And I thought, “Wow, is that cool?” Then I went downstairs do it to the old man, he was pretty depressed cause my mom split. So I said, “Hey dad, what’s your favorite card?” And he sais, “I don’t know… the Ace of Spades.”So it was just luck, right? And I go, “Watch!” And did this trick. And I made the card slowly come out the deck and then move to the right, go to the left, and then return to the deck. He gots this big smile and he sais, “You’re doing that with your thumb, aren’t you?” And then I turned around sideways and I did the same thing. And my dad just—he stood up at one point and then he just flops back down on his bed and says, “I have no idea how you’re doing that.” And this made my year—it was like the Grinch who stole Christmas. And his heart gets three times as big and that’s what happened to me. I felt that something had changed in me. And it was fantastic. I’d never experienced anything like that. Never got that kind of reaction from my dad let alone anybody else. And I said, “I’m going to keep doing this.” And I don’t even know what it was exactly, and suddenly I was interested in magic. I’d be interested in story of Houdini when I was a kid but just didn’t seemed like magic. But from that day on I started creating my own magic. And even inventing my own tricks out of junk lying around, and occasionally other people said, “Oh, have you ever seen this trick? Or that trick?” And so that’s how it all started off. The beginning it I

Sylvester-ReverseGravity
The beginning….

was just learning. That was 1975! A few weeks later I saw Magician Doug Henning on his first US TV Special.I continued to learn about magic, and read every book I could find on the subject, then when I was a sophmore in high school there was a talent show based on the old“gong show“ I auditioned with a few effecst I made and I won first prize. I was like, “Wow! I can’t believe this!” I started getting popular! And it wasn’t a big show or anything like that. But then the next year I won it again! And then I kept adding to my repertoire, more and more effects and routines. And did kind of a big one, big illusion, like a shadow box thing, produced my sister out of it. I got some steady work as a magician too. It was at a big resteraunt called Bronco Bear Creek. But after two years of that I decided I was going to move to California! That’s where my mom was. But I couldn’t get any much work as a magician. And this one guy said, “Well, I’ll hire you as a clown.” And I didn’t understand why.—so I decided, ok, I’ll try to be a clown. You know, it sounded stupid and I really didn’t want to do it. But it was a similar experience, like the crack in tile, I put this wig on… make-up a goofy costume and seddenly I’m someone I’ve never met! I was someone else! And I could be anything, do anything, say anything. And it just made me feel as if I‘d tapped in to some real power. It just took me out of the construct of me. I often talk about magic, how magic is based on constructs which is a simplified version of reality. But reality isn’t so simple. I’m not even sure we really see reality for what it is. Anyway that’s what happened with the clown thing; I put this clown suit and make up and it made me not see me anymore. That construct for me was some insane guy who would do anything. And that that guy was hilariously funny, which I had never been before. I could never remember jokes but when I became a clown I could create them on the spot. And I was really funny!

Then in 1988 a movie came out, “Who Frame Roger Rabbit.”

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Who Frame Roger Rabbit.

And I remembered when I was a kid, my little brother and I used to watch cartoons and we loved them. And I thought, I’m going to do it, I’m going to try to be a cartoon. That’s somewhere between a magician and a clown. And I’d never seen anybody do it. And so I worked really hard in coming up with the right stuff. I was working at a dentist also. I’d been hired to do magic at a dentist office because it was huge, and you’ve got all of these people in there sitting around in pain. So I would just entertain them. And that’s when I invented my first sound effects vest. And I’d go over to kids there, I had one of those pretend hammers, and I go, “Ding!” on their head, “Your head’s broken, ding! Ding!” And have sounds. And they would just laugh. It was a great time. So then little by little I started building this cartoon character. And first time did it at the Magic Castle. And it went fairly well, some people really liked it but didn’t get the response I was hopping for. It was more like they were looking at me like I was the monolith from 2001. But then… Jim Carrey did the Mask in 1994, and overnight everything changed!

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Jim Carrey-The Mask & Sylvester the Jester the real-life cartoon

People were calling me a genius. And others were calling me too! It all seem to happen……Overnight! It was like—because people didn’t have a model, they didn’t have a construct for what a real-life cartoon would be like. They felt uneasy, like what is this? But then when Carrey did his film everybody thought I copied off him. But I’d been doing it years before that movie ever came out! Suddenly, my character was valid, novel and unique. And Monique Nakachian (Tavel International Agency) called me and agents called me. And suddenly I was going all over the world. I’d never even left the United States ever before, and I was travelling around. And then I thought, “This is the greatest thing ever.” And then I had another agent too, he was sending me down to the South America, all the places in South; Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, and all these places like that. And local stuff too; television shows. And that’s pretty much how my character grew and became a successful guy. At least it was successful for me. That was the most success I ever had. I was being a cartoon! Thats norma1.

Kristina:       What you think, what is important in a magic act?

Daniel:      I think what’s important in a magic act is to take people out of their reality and to take them to some new, crazy place and give them the possibility, that same thing that felt when I saw this hair and then it turned out to be something else. And the same thing that I felt where I—when you see something and then you’re fascinated when you discover it’s much bigger, more fantastic than you ever thought. And I think that’s a magicians, or entertainer’s job is to make people feel like the world is a much bigger place they’ve got. It’s more fantastic. More wonderful. Because of course they don’t believe it necessarily that we’re doing real magic because they don’t know how we’re doing what we’re doing, that makes their brain kind of expand and constantly trying to figure out, “How could this be? How could he do that?” And that’s a wonderful thing!

 

Kristina:       How important is the costume and costume designs for a magician?

Daniel:       I don’t know. It depends on what kind of magician you are. I’ve seen

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“the face of”

magicians wear just regular old clothes, and do very, very well. I think the costume is for the entertainers almost as much as it is for the audience! For me, I want to look in the mirror and not see me. I want to look in the mirror and see somebody that looked like a cartoon and so the costume was important. And tried a different things for a while and it evolved. It evolved into what it is now. And then yeah, so that’s how—your costume, you have to be able to do a lot of things in it too. So it’s more than just a costume, more than just dressing. It’s also part of the magic.

 

Kristina:              What is the secret to create the successful magic act?

Daniel:     Well, you have to work with the strengths you have. A lot of people are not unique. They’re not even original. So you have to look at—you have to try to grow, of course and it’depends on what limitations you have and what you want to pull off. Not everybody has the same skills. We all have different skills. We all have to learn—to use what we have the most of..to standout and be unique in some ways. I was always an artist from the time I was a little kid. So I would draw, sculpt, make all kinds of things. I was always interested in mechanics too, and always do your absolute best. You have to do something original, do something new. Because that more than anything else, if people see something that they’ve never seen before, that works. As long as it’s entertaining, it’s not like you can explode into a million bits on the floor. You can, but you can only do that once.(laugh)

 

Kristina:           What do you like most to be an entertainer?

Daniel:        Oh, the girls. I just can’t keep them off me. (Laugh)
What I like best about it, I like travelling, meeting new people, trying to do my act in other places where they don’t even maybe understand English and see how well I could do it. I like the challenge of it. And I love making people feel what magic is all about to me. My tricks, a lot of them don’t even necessarily fool people like, “What the…?” They’re not like a mentalism trick. They’re like something just crazy and outrageous that they’ve never seen anybody do before. And I am also in that area, kind of specialized in something different, that was outside the regular magic periphery, whatever you call it.

 

Kristina:           What was your biggest success and your biggest failure in your career?

 

Daniel:           My biggest failure, I think, is as businessman. I just don’t get it. I don’t know how to—I’m afraid to ask for money a lot of times. I don’t think business-like way. I mean, my wife says, “You’re the worst business person—man.” I’m just terrible at that. And so I had to try Success-Failure-entertainerharder in the areas that I was good at. Just recently I raised my price and I was so scared. The Koreans called me and I asked them for a decent amount of money and they didn’t even blink an eye. And I was, “Oh, I can’t believe it. It was only three shows.”When I was a kid, I worked so hard, I was like my dad’s slave. I never got paid. Never got a dollar. Never got an allowance. Just work, work, work, work,

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International Magic Festival in Monte Carlo

like a slave. So I never had that sense that my effort is worth something. I never had that most of my life. So that’s where my biggest failure is.My biggest success I think was in Monaco, in Monte Carlo winning the Baguette d’Or The Magic Festival in Monte Carlo 1998. I remember first they gave me this Junior Jurors Award which is all they took a vote from all the young people in the audience, and they voted for me. And I was so happy just to get that. I just thought, “This is great. ”It was maybe one of the last ones they had. And I got this award and I was standing there. And Princess Stephanie gave it to me. And then the next thing they’re saying is the champion award, the Baguette d’Or… and then they said my name again, and I almost cried—“That can’t be right.” And it was. And I’m standing there with these two giant awards in my hands—and all these other magicians were great magicians behind me who are in part of the show and that was probably my biggest success—I was absolutely thrilled by that.

Kristina:              If you could start over, would you choose the same path?

Daniel:                 That’s kind of a crazy question because I know where it led. I think that if I didn’t know, if I didn’t have any memory of what I had done, and I started all over again, I would probably end up in the same place. I would, I would do it again.

 

Kristina:             What is your advice for the new generation?

Daniel:                 Stay out of magic. (Laughs)

My main thing is to stay away from so much technology because—I often feel that

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The Real Live Cartoon

technology is the opposite—magic is, to me, like the first miracle and man’s greatest achievement was some—probably autistic, cave person kneeling in the jungle, doing what the chimps do…spinning a stick between their hands trying to get meel of grubs out of a some dirt hole and suddenly the thing’s getting hot and starts to smoke then … fire. And they’re probably on their knees doing this, because this may be the origin of prayer. I think that the more ancient it seems the more magical it is. And that’s why I’m not—I mean, I use technology but I build it and make stuff like that. I’m not against using it, I’m against the audience seeing it, like certain big screen things and stuff like that. Because to me, it has to be real. You have to—the audience has to believe in it. The other thing is copying, I don’t like when people copy other people. And sometimes they do it, they just have the same exact idea. And then they have to look, did this person do it before me and then maybe changed? Because these things can happen by accident too, but that would be my biggest beef, to see so much of the same stuff again. Do not copy but also try to come up with something that nobody would think of. No matter how crazy it is, that’s going to make a splash because if the people haven’t see it before….
The presentation, that’s the tough part. You have to present something that is really new in a way that the audience doesn’t get scared or filled but that’s too strange. You have to present it in such a way that they’re on-board with you. That’s what the difficulty of doing new stuff, is that they’re not always on-board with you. The more you give them a construct, something they’ve seen before, the more they feel safe. To me, magic is exactly the opposite that. Magic takes you to that place that isn’t safe. But then you safely return to reality after, that’s what should be; that you take them to some fantastic place in their head or in this crazy world and then in the end they feel safe, and then they have to think about that magical place they went to for a while.

Visit the wild world of Sylvester the Jester for great products and merchandise!
*All magic props are hand made by Sylvester himself: Sylvester – Magic Product shop

Notable nominations

The Magic Castle’s Academy of Magical Arts, Los Angeles, California:

  • Lecturer of the Year: 2002, 2009
  • Parlour Performer of the Year: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004Sylvester-the-jester
  • Comedy Magician of the Year: 2003
  • Stage Magician of the Year: 1998, 1999

Awards

  • Baguette d’Or (Golden Wand), 1998, Monte Carlo Magic Stars, awarded by Princess Stéphanie of Monaco
  • Kid’s Choice, 1998, Junior Jury’s Grand Prix, Monte Carlo Magic Stars
  • Festival Favorite, 1998, International del Humor, Bogotá, Colombia
  • Gold Medal Champion, 1995, Pacific Coast Association of Magicians (PCAM), Santa Clara, California
  • Appreciation Award (50th Anniversary Special), 1996, International Brotherhood of Magicians
  • The S.C.A.M. Annual Comedy Magic Award, 2007, South Carolina Association of Magicians

 

 

 

Costumes for Entertainers & Performing Artists

Costumes for Entertainers & Performing Artists

By J C Sum.

As an entertainer, your costume or attire is part of the production value of your show. More importantly, it communicates the style, feel and character of your stage persona or the theme of the show.

Over my 18+ year career, I have gone through many costume changes. These were not just changes in the cutting or colour of a jacket but were completely different looks to represent the style of my show at a particular time.

It is very important to ensure your wardrobe is contemporary or original unless you are performing in a show with a specific theme. I generally would not be caught dead in a sequin jacket but I was costumed in one for a production show that had a 1960s theme so it was necessary to fit the overall image of the show.

Unless you are performing a period or themed act, are you still dressed in full sequin jackets or tailcoats? Or are you still stuck in the Matrix with long black trench coat and PVC pants? Do your costumes look outdated even though they have worked for you for years?

It is also very important that your costume fits the venue you are performing in. A nicely cut tuxedo with cummerbund will look great in a high-end casino, but if you are performing on a beach for a family show, it will look silly. Jeans with a belt chain and a skull T-shirt looks cool in a music or street festival but will look inappropriate at the awards ceremony at a corporate event.

Naturally, the same line of thinking must apply to your assistants or other talent working on stage with you.

Upon deciding on the style of attire and wardrobe for your show, the next step is to purchase or have your outfit made. There are five sources that you can tap on to get your attire for your show:

  • Professional Costumers
  • Fashion Designers
  • Designer Wear
  • Tailors or Seamstresses
  • Free-lancers

Professional Costumers

A professional costumer who has experience designing and fabricating performance costumes will have all the necessary equipment and experience to produce a costume that meets your needs. They are experts in designing stage wear and know how to make something look good on-stage. And that is the key word: ‘on stage’.

To the professional costumer, costumes are meant to look good on stage. Thus, when viewed up close, the costumes will definitely not look as good as designer or tailored outfits. They are also not made for comfort. However, professional costumes are whizzes at making great-looking stage costumes at affordable prices.

Many costumers may have catalogs of photos or ready-made costumes that you can buy or modify for your needs. You can also show them pictures of costumes that you like and ask them to use it as a reference and custom-design something for you.

Fashion Designers

Fashion designers are an interesting breed of people. There are usually highly artistic but all seem to have their own quirks. However, all of them pride themselves in creating fashion pieces that are unique and aesthetic (although beauty is in the eye of the beholder).

If you can find a fashion designer that fits your style, speak to them to see if they are interested to design and produce something for you. Just be warned that they usually work on their own timetable and not yours. Design fees can vary greatly between designers so make sure you check before committing to a project.

Designer Wear

If you are performing a modern contemporary show, you can purchase your clothes from a designer brand outlet. Good brands will have well-cut clothes that will make you look good. The cost of a good complete outfit with accessories can easily run into the thousands for branded stores.

This is the source of my current attire due to my performance style, current show formats and target audience. While I have switched between looks and material over the last 5 years, the one good thing about designer wear is that I will always be relatively “in fashion” and look contemporary.

Tailors or Seamstresses

A professional tailor or seamstress will be able to custom-make a suit to your needs with some kind of frills to make the outfit flashier. However, the general tailor is usually used to making standard suits and may not have the ability to produce a special costume that you have in mind. While they are experts in cutting and sewing, they may have little creative design beyond the standard suits.

You should bring photos of a costume you like as a reference or better yet, get a dress pattern that the tailor or seamstress can follow.

For female magicians and assistants, one professional resource for these dress patterns is this very website: www.CostumeDesignPlans.com

Free-lancers

The advantages of employing the help of free-lance designers or fashion students are that they are likely to be less expensive and will be willing to work with you on every small detail. However, the trade-off is that they may not be as experienced.

While their designs may be artistic and fresh, they may not have experience on the small practical details of performance attire, such as the durability and ‘behaviour’ of different fabrics and materials. Another problem with free-lancers is that they may not have a full appreciation for deadline and schedules as they have other priorities and commitments.

All the best and look good for your next show!

Based in Singapore, J C Sum
Based in Singapore, J C Sum

Based in Singapore, J C Sum (www.jcsum.com) is an award-winning international illusionist & designer of original illusions with extensive international experience performing for corporate & special events, luxury cruise liners, theaters, showrooms and television.

His website www.BackstageBusinessAcademy.com educates entertainers on business, marketing and investing.