The Hardest?

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Let’s assume for today’s post, that each of the artists mentioned are the best in their field. Let’s compare only with those folks…

The painter goes to work early in the morning. She grabs a brush, displays her oils and takes her time filling a blank space with color to create a one-of-a-kind illusion of life on canvas… a masterpiece.

What a joy painting must be. A true introvert’s art form… unless of course you are Bob Ross, the famous American painter who filmed his painting projects for television. He enjoyed an audience, though it was not a live audience. I’m sure many painters do like an audience; but usually, it’s an out of the spotlight art. The final production is what demands attention. “Look at this! …not at me.” says the painter.

To me, that would be easier.

The musician grabs his instrument. Play. Sing. Rock! He can even close his eyes if the lights on stage are too bright. The rhythm of the band backing him creates a high. As a group they are strong, united, uplifting each other. The musician is tapped into that marvelous wonder, which was instilled from creation, where a person can become a part of the music and get carried away.

I played in many bands for many years before hanging up my bass guitar. It was a rush! A beautiful thing. To me, those times were easier.

Now the acrobat takes risks daily. Depending on how intense the stunts, a gymnast could risk broken limb or even life! The technical skill to make each movement, jump, or spin with precision every single time takes incredible difficultly. Intense focus. 

I couldn’t do it. My athletic reaction speed compares to turtle in winter.


As a magician, we take on all these roles when we perform. Magic to me is a hybrid art. It’s a combination, each of these plus the other.

We are painting a picture inside the audience member’s minds. We make them see something that is not physically there, if only for a moment.

Magic performance is a rhythm of conducting actions and reactions of strangers we have just met...Not unlike a conductor leading an orchestra pieced together with musicians all sourced from different companies who have never met or practiced together before. While often standing solo and directing those people to react, we magi are simultaneously playing several “instruments” of our own: gimmicks, smoke, mirrors, words, and our own name a few we must master.

We even say when Juan Tamariz performs he is “in concert.” (Said of Roger Clause, too.)

As far as tumbling, our bones don’t typically break doing sleights… though some of us attempt life challenging stunts and escapes. Still, we deliver our lines on cue and hit our sleights, often with improvisation to our unique audiences, all while syncing our props at the same time.

We need to practice for the expert timing and precision of an athlete. We juggle silently, invisibly. In coin magic, our dexterity is unbeknownst to our fans. That is if they are fans… they may be opposing fans, hecklers, trying to trip us on our “balance beam” of performance.

We create, make harmony, and dance at the same time in any venue and through any storm.

I think there are many other art forms we could look at, but I’m at the end of this post. Is magic the hardest? I do not know. I wouldn't call it the  easiest. But, we do seem to take some of the most difficult parts of all the arts around us and attempt them in unison. What do you think? What is the hardest art form overall? What other art forms do we seemingly mimic in magic? Leave a comment below of what you know:

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  • Jeff Copeland

    I will totally concede I dont know the answer to my question. See my last paragraph. I try to keep these posts brief and just couldn’t touch on every nitch art. Jazz was my favorite music to play, the one I studied the most. It influenced my rock and folk music I played later. there have been entire books and lectures on improving and “outs” in magic. Improve is essential in close up where the performer plays both offense and defense to the crowd in challenging way. I love music and mean no offense to anyone’s favorite art. I speak thought out the editorial saying “to me.”
    Please do not confuse “hardest” with “best.” something could be easier and better. simpler and better. different and better. I do want to present a case that magic is complex, but not the best. Im mostly concerned why magic has struggled until recently to advance far in the tv talent shows. thats another topic though. :)

  • Galagher

    I believe we must start by defining ‘Art’.
    Without seeking argument,
    I’d simply like to say: ‘A calculated alteration of nature.’
    (I’m open to discuss in another thread.)

    With my definition in hand,…
    Music, Painting,…‘Magic’,…“can be”,….but…
    Talent. Technique. Thought.
    Each, all,…as ‘hard’ as it simply ‘is’.

    Are Sleight-of-Hand Techniques “more difficult” then di Vinci’s fine brushstrokes?
    ,…Picasso’s lines?
    ,…..Michelangelo’s form?
    john Philip Sousa’a melodys,..
    Beethoven’s themes,..
    Today I played in Weimar, Franz Liszt’s hometown.
    Today, folks struggle playing his Caprisen(

    Art,….I believe it is as ‘complex’ as the Artist.
    Tom Robbins wrote:
    “..this lonely, uncompromising, obsessive tug-of-war with presumed reality, this is what art is all about.”

    p.s.: I believe an Artist is NOT confronted,..
    or confounded with ‘difficulty’,
    as in ‘hard’,…technique oriented.
    I believe most struggle with ‘inspiration’(!),
    ….and ‘understanding’,..
    “being understood”.

    Freedom is achieving Understanding.

    ,…i had a good day,
    in Weimar. 🙃
    Wish you the same. 🙂

  • Tim

    Mr. Copeland,
    If you are leaning toward magic being the most difficult of the arts, one of the reasons is because you are ‘hung up your bass’ and no longer a ‘rock and roll artist.’ I think you are giving magic too much credit and music, let alone all the other ARTS, not enough.
    If YOU were really a serious JAZZ or CLASSICAL bass player, I would think differently, but just rock? Sorry, I don’t but it.
    If you would be interested in discussing further, please let me know.
    By the way, great JAZZ artists have it all over all magic artists because they can literally, create and perform at the drop at a hat. It is called improvisation. Oscar Peterson’s definition is “Instant creativity.”
    Not all, if any, magic artists can do that on a consistent basis the way JAZZ Artists can


    some art forms are god given and some such as magic music etc. are acquired but can be developed into an art form. I have seen some preformers that have reached the level of art that would be considered masterful and artful

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