Jonah sits down with Adam Rubin this week to discuss creativity, writing, and applying magic to other aspects of your life. Alongside being a magician, Adam is the Director of Puzzles for Art of Play, a #1 New York Times best selling picture book author, and an ex-creative director in advertising.
Adam’s journey into magic started when his friend repeatedly fooled him with a trick involving buttons jumping from hand to hand. As the trick burned a hole in his head, Adam found himself needing to know the secret, leading him to read the entirety of Mark Wilson’s Encyclopedia of Magic. Soon, magic became a central part of his life.
While Adam embraced his magical identity in highschool, moving away from his small town in New York to attend university in St. Louis gave him the opportunity to step away from the magician label. Although he didn’t actively let people know he was into magic, Adam continued to perform magic in secret. After graduating a fine arts program with a discipline in advertising, Adam began a a successful career path in advertising.
An Accidental Picture Book Author
Out of university, Adam began a job working for Leo Burnett – a famous advertising firm in Chicago. When he initially began, it was a fun and cool experience that let him travel and create compelling marketing campaigns, but he soon found it to be repetitive and his creativity was focused on capturing what the client wanted.
Adam’s career as a picture book author began when a friend put him in contact with Adam’s illustrator, Daniel Salmieri. Intrigued by how words and images could operate together, Adam wrote Those Darn Squirrels. Soon, Adam was able to leave his job and pursue writing picture books full time.
Art of Play
When Adam quit his day job, he found himself with a lot of time on his hands and a desire to start a company that would allow him to create magical objects and puzzles. Adam approached Dan and Dave to propose his idea as it just seemed right to collaborate with them; they had created a company that sold astonishing objects with a timeless quality.
Currently, as Adam puts it, everything in the shop is designed to delight, do something amazing, or create an unexpected moment. Whether it be an unexpected solution or a physics principle, Art of Play wants to leave their customers with a truly astonishing experience and a timeless object.
Magical Thinking & Creativity
Adam sets out to create magic tricks that don’t require a magician. By taking the performer away from the magic, you are leaving a person with a wonderful emotion that they can just take in. Whether it’s bowls that change size or cigars that disappear in an ash tray, Adam designs his magical objects with the intention of creating astonishment in his audience.
When it comes to actually being creative, you just have to start, Adam says. If you are stumped on where to begin, he recommends writing down the worst possible version of your concept; you’ll begin to see the route it’s going to take and it takes away the judgement. The worst thing you can do is give into fear because fear is the biggest enemy of creativity.
What do you love about 2019 magic? What do you hate about it?
Adam likes that the magic scene in New York City is rich and energetic thanks to the many public shows, performers, and the collaboration.
He does not like screen magic. It bums him out to see people trying to pass off video tricks as sleight-of hand. Adam also isn’t a fan of the oversaturation of people trying to sell tricks. To him, it seems inward facing; he would like to see magicians actively sharing their creations with the public.
Take Home Point