Have you ever sat in a coffee-shop opposite a man with a laptop on a Tuesday afternoon and wondered what he does for a living? Your guess was graphic designer, your friend guessed fireman… We decided to accost one of those men to find out, and you won’t believe his answer. Meet Geraint Clarke, Cardiff-based freelance magic consultant. And no – we had no idea what that was either, until we grilled him about it …
Q. GERAINT, WHAT ON EARTH IS A MAGIC CONSULTANT?
A. Essentially, I sell secrets.
My main job is creating tricks and designing campaigns for an American online business called Ellusionist. They sell the secrets to magic tricks online and I craft their campaigns for them, as well as coming up with some original tricks to publish.
Magicians on TV or at events all around the world use these secrets to blow the minds of their audiences.
The easiest comparison I can give is that Beyoncé had five songwriters for ‘Run the world’. Magic Creators are the songwriters to the Beyonce’s of magic.
Sometimes magicians learn the secrets from other creatives to allow themselves to be the best performers. Like Jonathan Creek… except I don’t solve murders.
Q. HOW DID YOU GET INTO THAT? WE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THAT WAS A THING
A. I have a background in marketing, and I created magic on the side. My friend Rory and I filmed product trailers and sold the secret to the tricks to magicians all over the world.
We split royalties cheques each month. I felt like a rockstar (or some sort of struggling songwriter), cashing in cheques for US dollars to the bank. Although this is actually way less glamorous than I imagined it was.
My tricks sold so well, they hit #1 in the bestseller list. Some magicians used them at their private events and some popular names have even used them on TV (and no – I can’t say who!).
I was lucky enough to gain the attention of some bigwigs in the industry and was offered an exclusive contract with Ellusionist.
I use my marketing background to develop their business as well as giving them exclusive rights to my original ideas. They’re the perfect client. It allows me to do other freelance work like voiceovers, blogging or consulting for other companies.
The only problem with being freelance is that both your postman (and your Mum) will think you’re unemployed, being at home during the day…
Q. DO YOU KNOW DYNAMO?
A. Yeah I was with him in London last month. He LOVES magic. You think he’d be sick of it by constantly being in the spotlight, but we sat down and he couldn’t stop performing.
He’s actually the one who inspired me to start magic. I saw him on MTV Base, back in the day. The next day I was in a book-store picking up a magic book. Ten years later, I’m lucky enough to know him. Great guy!
Q. IT LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE JUGGLING THE CARDS, WHAT IS THAT?
A. Everyone has seen fancy shuffles and thought “I’m not playing cards with that guy”. This idea of manipulating a deck of cards to flip, spin or spring them through the air is called ‘cardistry’.
It’s an artform in its own right, with tournaments, conferences and award shows.
This year I got to fly to Berlin as a sponsor of Cardistry Con and witness the best in the world at this art form. Nothing is more soul-crushing than being at an event where a 13 year old kid is better than you at something you’ve spent 10 years perfecting. I mean, I’m only 26, but even I felt old there.
To the We Are Cardiff readers out there that love to fidget and keep their hands busy, I’d definitely recommend cardistry as a hobby. You can practice in front of the TV, or pass time waiting for the bus.
My advice – start with the ‘charlier cut’ and work your way up to the harder stuff. It’s so addictive.
Q. IS IT SOMETHING YOU STARTED WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG?
A. Actually, I didn’t start magic or cardistry until I was 16. Before that I didn’t really have a fixed hobby.
I played rugby throughout primary school, took up boxing in my teens and quit karate after one lesson. I think there’s a lot of pressure on kids to determine what they love instantly. Or to dive all in on their first ever swimming lesson for example (excuse the pun!).
The truth is I didn’t love anything as a kid. I discovered my passion late, after trying a myriad of different hobbies.
I think everyone needs a hobby though, a creative outlet to forget about the stresses of everyday life. Something that’s 100 per cent yours, and can’t be determined by your job, girlfriend, boyfriend or parents.
Q. WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
A. I grew up in Newport, with Cardiff being an adventurous train-ride away. My mother would take us to the old ‘Toys R Us’ by the station to spend any pocket money I’d earned. It’s been knocked down since – it used to be on the site where John Lewis and St David’s 2 are now.
It was back then I realised then the importance of hard work, as I could never afford that RC Hovercraft.
They say home is where your heart is, but sometimes you connect with a place that isn’t where you were born. For me that’s Cardiff. It’s where I do my socialising, nights out, shopping, filming… everything.
Q. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF CARDIFF?
A. In the winter it’s Coffee Barker or Tea Barker (Royal Arcade in the City Centre), but in the summer Cardiff Bay is unbeatable. A mellow atmosphere and incredible choice of things to do.
My serious drinking days are over now. I think I took my liver hostage in university, but I used to love summer evenings on Mill Lane.
Q. WHAT PART OF CARDIFF DO YOU LIVE NOW?
A. I recently moved just outside Cardiff to Llanharan. It’s a quaint barn conversion that has the convenience of a CF postcode, but without the noise of a student party in the apartment above me… like my old place.
Q. ANY FINAL WORDS OF ADVICE FOR THOSE WANTING TO GET INVOLVED IN THIS WEIRD UNDERGROUND HOBBY?
A. If you see me around Cardiff and want to ask me a question on any of the above, don’t hesitate to come over and say hi.
Incase you don’t see me round the city, feel free to get in touch if you’re interested in learning magic or cardistry. I’ll point you in the right direction. You can follow my Geraint Clarke lifestyle blog or find me on social media @geraint_clarke.