How close-up magic helped me become a better designer

3 min readAug 4


As I shuffle the deck of cards in my hands, each motion becomes an act of design — meticulous, thoughtful, and always purposeful. The path from close-up magician to product designer is not as unrelated as it might seem. In fact, my 27-year-long journey in magic has fundamentally shaped my design thinking and approach.

Storytelling: In magic, as in design, the story you tell is often as important as the technicalities behind it. A magic trick isn’t just about the reveal; it’s about engaging the audience, guiding their attention, setting up expectations, and then delivering on them in a surprising way. Similarly, designing a product isn’t just about its functionality — it’s about creating an experience for the user that tells a story, providing them with an intuitive and memorable journey.

Attention to Detail: A successful magic effect hinges on the minutest of details. Each gesture, each movement, each glance holds significance. Similarly, the success of a product design often rests on the smallest of factors — the placement of a button, the choice of a color, the response time of an interface. This acute awareness of detail in magic has honed my ability to pay meticulous attention in design.

Floating Card (Yigal Mesika) & Karate Kap (David Acer)

Empathy & Understanding the Audience: A magician must understand their audience to create illusions that captivate and astonish. In the same way, a designer must understand their user to create products that truly resonate. Empathy, an essential tool in a magician’s kit, is equally vital in the realm of design.

Nike Run Club

Adaptation & Problem-Solving: Every magic performance is different, every audience unique. As a magician, you must be ready to adapt on the fly and solve problems in real-time. This agility has been invaluable in my design career, where the ability to pivot, adapt, and find innovative solutions is the cornerstone of success.

Changes (David Acer) & Bizarre Twist (Paul Harris)

Persistence: Magic taught me that mastery comes with practice, patience, and a willingness to persist through failure. It’s a lesson I’ve carried into design. Whether it’s perfecting a card trick or iterating a design prototype, the path to excellence is paved with determination and resilience.

I got into design as a by-product of my passion for magic, finding ways to share my tricks with the world through platforms like GeoCities and Homestead. Little did I know that this initial foray into design would evolve into a career that parallels and complements my magic so perfectly.

In the intersection of magic and design, I’ve found my unique perspective, my way of seeing the world. And whether I’m holding a deck of cards or a mouse and keyboard, my goal remains the same: to create experiences that delight, surprise, and resonate.