“Drawing is the honesty of the art. There is no possibility of cheating. It is either good or bad” - Salvador Dali
My creative process lies in the strength of my drawing ability and the hard work I have put into my talent to sketch which guides my inspiration always. I sketch what I see, what I read, and where I am, even the imaginary world around me. When I first started studying and practicing magic I was already in College and had a published Comic Strip in the College weekly paper. I don't claim it was great or very funny. It did however inspire and force me to start sketching more than ever before. I had draws allot ever since winning my school drawing contest at 10 years old. But now with a dead line to create I started really pushing myself to draw and with the heavy load of art classes I was taken lets just say I was obsessed with art. I have since throughout my art schooling and over the next 17 years I have filled many notebooks with sketches.
I feel I am a creative person, but what does that mean? Is the world magically flowing information through me? No, I think not. It is more a sense of interest that guides my creative decision-making. I create by searching the things around me, finding inspiration to sketch. Sometimes its a memory a song or a place that inspire me. I have been inspired by the books I’ve read, the world I have lived in, and I draw from all my experiences to connect dots and forge new paths connecting ideas to tell a story. Once the basic sketches are done in my youth I would build things out of old scrap piles of wood and building materials from my fathers’ construction yard. I would have a goal, somewhat of an idea what I wanted to create, although I was guided then by the materials around me and the way those things would fit together in harmony. This method made for some very nice surprise methods being invented.
Even now as I write this I and searching my mind and thoughts for ideas and inspiration from deep in my memory bank. I recall quotes from famous artists and inspirational posters from my youth. Is this cheating to call myself creative even though I am just recycling and repurposing old ideas? We all do this and the most creative do it better than any of us. The true challenge is to create with intent: to have a real goal or plan of what outcome you wish from the practice. This is why the artist statement is so powerful. We must make clear our intent. What are we working for? Once that is answered, the mind will be activated to fill your imagination with all the items needed to solve the problem and allow you to create. The dreams you have are only that, dreams. The work comes from setting goals and asking how to make it happen.
Imagine this.. In I think 2003 I saw a wonderful magician performing an act he called that was so very dramatic. When I stood with everyone else in the room I felt a wonderful since of astonishment in witnessing such a theatrical piece of drama played out with magic on stage. When he pulled the knife from his boot and sliced the card fan he flinched, as did I, actually you could hear the audience gasp slightly at the thought that he may have hurt himself by accident. It was part of the theater and then he licked his finger and continued as if nothing had happened. Then a few moments later he ran his finger across the cards to fan them out and to his and the audiences surprise, there was now a blood red smear across the fan of cards. He looked shocked, he then wiped his finger across his suit and a silk blood red ribbon appeared. The audience could feel the emotion of the moment as the magician acting so royal was now theatrically bleeding all over himself. He then fanned the cards into two and both were now totally red. Then everything went red with red it seemed and he ended by throwing red streamers into the audience as the lights went black and he vanished from the stage. Looking back I feel the drama of the moment sacrifices my belief of what magic should be. It did pull me and everyone who witnessed in and that was interesting to me as an artist. The reaction to such a thing.
I was shocked and I wanted to create something with the same drama and theatrical power. The empathy the audience felt at the first moment when he cut his finger was so deep and we were concerned for him. That is what fascinated me. I would never take advantage of someones goodwill or concern for me. I just feel this moment in theater is very human and allows you to connect with your audience in an emotional way. The emotional level of empathy that was drawn out of the entire room, I felt it. He was of course acting and very well I may add. This added such drama to his act. I wanted to bring this drama to a close-up routine and started working on my own version using a deck of cards. I would use a knife to cut the plastic from the new deck. Mime cutting my finger. That's all I had to start with then I drew in color with a marker a tiny blood spot on a deck. I then would change the blood drop into a painting of a lady bug using a color change. The people I showed didn’t even realize the change had happened. Then they would see the ladybug. In their minds, most people assumed it was still just a painted ladybug until it began to move and fly off the deck. A ladybug alive and real always got an amazing reaction. The drama came from the inspiration based in empathy by the self- inflicted accidental cut on my finger, then the magic at that moment was even stronger than I could have imagined.
Flash forward another year and a friend whom had witnessed me perform this ladybug effect approached me with his granddaughter. He would not stop telling the 8-year-old about the time I made a ladybug appear. I was not prepared with live ladybug so in an off moment I found a place of isolation and took my set of red sponge balls and with some scissors, I cut them into half. I proceeded with a sharpie, made dots and a line down the back of the half ball: I now had a sponge ladybugs. I did a standard sponge routine where the sponge vanished and appeared in her hand. It did suffice the girl and the gentlemen. I was worried though about how it would be remembered. To my surprise, it was one of the greatest moments of learning for me.
The next year I was back again for the same gentlemen and this time, the 9-year-old granddaughter. She had told everyone about the ladybug trick. I noticed something very interesting. She never used the word sponge, and neither did the Gentleman. People never do say sponge. I started making and selling my own sponge ladybugs and ever since, still use them in my kids shows. I have on many many occasions heard people telling others about that magic. Those who hear about the trick imagine a real ladybug. When the person telling the story is thinking sponge ladybug, but using only the word ‘ladybug.” In this case, the magic is much stronger in the story people tell than the actual trick. I realized how powerful the stories are that people tell after they see magic and how that story can be part of the magic. Of course this happens with magicians as well. Even though I never marketed the blood to ladybug effect, it has inspired others to create similar effects.
I tell you this story to share the process which I find helpful and important in creating something that is unique and has meaning to you. When you put in the time it becomes somehow connected to you like I felt with my paintings and cartoon strips. I was proud of the detail I would include in the piece and proudly hang them for others to see. I am lucky to have studied in many different fields including, building, art, art history, linguistics, and magic and this allows me to look outside of magic for my inspiration.
On another occasion I dreamed of how my audience would react to a lion on stage. I was intrigued by the idea and made numerous sketches and studied illusions even though I had no idea how I would ever realistically have a real lion. Then one day at a second had store in Arizona I saw two identical baby cribs made of steal with metal bars. When I saw them I immediately knew I would use the material from both to make one cage, to appear my lion. I didn’t have a lion so had local pet grooming shop give my Golden Retriever, Duke, a hair-cut fitting of a lion, and he became the LION HEART on stage.
A smarter man once told me that the best place to succeed is where you are with what you have. All you must do is take the first step and ask the first questions. Ask yourself the questions and you will find the answers around you. Everything we need is available if we only ask. Challenge yourself and enjoy the process, don’t get discouraged, and don’t let it bother you when people take your ideas and create something from them. We are all on different paths and each of us have unique goals and dreams so first ask the question, WHY?
We must ask this question on a regular basis to make sure we are still on the path we desire and that we haven’t been side-tracked by greed or ego. I try and always think first, of my audience and the reaction I desire. This is not a business choice, although I accepted along time ago that to be an artist is the best way for me to fit into this world and share myself. I can do what I love even with a negative bank account. All I need is a pencil and the I can create. I’ll be honest it feels like sometime this path is hard for my family. Although each time I consider changing my path I feel inspired to create something new from a place of passion and my love of performing and sharing uplifting magic with others.
I hope this inspires you to create and challenge yourself to pursue that which makes you happy. I go into more detail about manifesting your dreams in my book titled, “Optimystical” The blood to Ladybug effect mentioned above can be learned if you wish. This trick LadyBug is available from my website at http://www.rodwayne.com/tricks/ladybug Enjoy! You can accomplish everything you want in life, I believe in you if you tell me why I should.
Thanks for spending this time with me. - Rod Wayne