Arthur Trace: The Inside Magic Interview

Prize Winning Act – Photo Courtesy of Mona S.Morrison

Arthur Trace is more than a winner of the IBM Triple Crown, he is also a good guy.

Despite the hectic pace at which he now travels with shows around the country as well as fulfilling comittments to his loyal client-base in the Chicago-area, he took time to participate in the grueling interview process that is the Inside Magic Celebrity Interview. We considered taking it easy on him but realized he should be subjected to the same hardball questions we whip at everyone who dares to return our email.

Mr. Trace has completed in one year what virtually none of us will accomplish in a lifetime. When the dust settled in Reno a couple of weeks ago, Mr. Trace emerged with a First Place win in the Stage Competition, The People's Choice Award, and the rarely given IBM Gold Medal for Excellence in Stage Magic. Mr. Trace's sweep of the big three competitions is about as rare as a Triple Crown winner in horse racing.

What was your routine?

I do a ball and card manipulation act revolving around an abstract painting. Basically, I interact with this painting by manipulating the shapes in it. I don't want to ruin the surprise for those who haven't seen it, so I'll leave it at that.

Was it a special routine for purposes of the IBM Contest?

No. I don't believe in developing a "competition act." I try to create magic that I can call my own. Magic that is unique to me and with this I hope it is unique and entertaining to both magicians and laymen.

How did it differ (if it did) from what you normally do?

Most of my work in the Chicago area is private work so I mainly find myself doing close-up magic and not stage. However, I am working on a one man show and in the future I'll be doing a lot more theatre work.

How did you manage the time constraints?

I made sure my act didn't have any unnecessary movements or repetitive manipulation. Also, I choreographed the act so that many of the manipulative movements were in sync with the music. Since the music was timed within the time limit, my act did not exceed the time limit.

What did you think of the competitors?

I tried not to think about them. Really, I tried to treat the competition as a regular performance. With that said, let me say that I met a lot of talented people and even made some friends such as Chris Randall. I look forward to seeing many of them at magic conventions in the near future.

Could you tell things were going so well you would receive the prestigious (and rarely given) Gold Medal award?

No. The competition was a good one. The finalists were very talented and I thought anything could happen. It was only when I heard the reaction of the crowd after my performance during the final competition that I even thought I had a chance of getting first. But the Gold Medal… I couldn't imagine. When the medal was presented…


Prize Winning Act – Photo Courtesy of Mona S.Morrison

Arthur Trace is more than a winner of the IBM Triple Crown, he is also a good guy.

Despite the hectic pace at which he now travels with shows around the country as well as fulfilling comittments to his loyal client-base in the Chicago-area, he took time to participate in the grueling interview process that is the Inside Magic Celebrity Interview. We considered taking it easy on him but realized he should be subjected to the same hardball questions we whip at everyone who dares to return our email.

Mr. Trace has completed in one year what virtually none of us will accomplish in a lifetime. When the dust settled in Reno a couple of weeks ago, Mr. Trace emerged with a First Place win in the Stage Competition, The People's Choice Award, and the rarely given IBM Gold Medal for Excellence in Stage Magic. Mr. Trace's sweep of the big three competitions is about as rare as a Triple Crown winner in horse racing.

What was your routine?

I do a ball and card manipulation act revolving around an abstract painting. Basically, I interact with this painting by manipulating the shapes in it. I don't want to ruin the surprise for those who haven't seen it, so I'll leave it at that.

Was it a special routine for purposes of the IBM Contest?

No. I don't believe in developing a "competition act." I try to create magic that I can call my own. Magic that is unique to me and with this I hope it is unique and entertaining to both magicians and laymen.

How did it differ (if it did) from what you normally do?

Most of my work in the Chicago area is private work so I mainly find myself doing close-up magic and not stage. However, I am working on a one man show and in the future I'll be doing a lot more theatre work.

How did you manage the time constraints?

I made sure my act didn't have any unnecessary movements or repetitive manipulation. Also, I choreographed the act so that many of the manipulative movements were in sync with the music. Since the music was timed within the time limit, my act did not exceed the time limit.

What did you think of the competitors?

I tried not to think about them. Really, I tried to treat the competition as a regular performance. With that said, let me say that I met a lot of talented people and even made some friends such as Chris Randall. I look forward to seeing many of them at magic conventions in the near future.

Could you tell things were going so well you would receive the prestigious (and rarely given) Gold Medal award?

No. The competition was a good one. The finalists were very talented and I thought anything could happen. It was only when I heard the reaction of the crowd after my performance during the final competition that I even thought I had a chance of getting first. But the Gold Medal… I couldn't imagine. When the medal was presented to me, I was overwhelmed and my eyes began to water. I'll never forget that moment.

Do you enter (or have you entered) many magic competitions before?

I don't enter many magic competitions. The only other magic competition that I really competed in was the 2002 Columbus Magi-Fest. I entered the IBM Competition because I thought it would be good for my career. I knew I had a unique act and I wanted people to see it.

How does it help your professional work? Will the win translate well for efforts to gain future clients?

I think winning the IBM competition will do wonders for my career. Already, it has given me some publicity such as this interview. Also, I think it will show my clients that I'm respected among my peers and the award will look great on my resume! As for future clients… I think I'll be able to book larger shows.

What would you tell young people (either in age or time in magic)about the best way to approach a magic competition? What should they do, avoid, work-on? Do they need to invent new effects or perform established effects in a new way?

It really depends on their goals.

If they are looking to make their magic into a serious profession then I would suggest on waiting till the time is right. Eugene Burger gave me this advice about five years ago. There's a time and place to be bad and an international magic competition is not that time and place.

You will know when the time is right. Just be patient.

However, let's say magic is your hobby and not something your going to make a career out of. Then you have more freedom for public experimentation. Have fun. Enter a magic competition and learn from your mistakes.

Overall, take everything everyone has to say with a grain of salt. And in the end, listen to yourself.

With that… I would tell your readers to approach a magic competition as just another performance. Also, in terms of creating material, I would suggest that magicians look at their interests outside the magical arts for inspiration.

Many will find a new presentation for an old effect,perhaps a new method, or even create a new effect. There is no formula to creating art.

Who was the first person you called (or emailed) to share the great news?

First, I called my girlfriend and then my parents. Also, I gave my friend Aye Jaye a huge hug for being there and cheering me on. Thanks Aye Jaye!

Thank you, Arthur for taking the time to answer these grueling questions.

Thanks for the opportunity, Tim.

Check out Mr. Trace's incredibly well-designed website. It is, as we have written several times, one of the best sites we've seen for the promotion of a performer. We understand it was designed and executed by Lynch Squared in Elgin, Illinois. With Mr. Trace's new status as Magic Stud (in keeping with our Triple Crown / Race Horse metaphor), we imagine he'll be making additions to the site in the near future.

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