Bridging the Old and the New with Harapan Ong
October 4th, 2018
amateur magician, creating magic, instagram, socialmedia
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Harapan Ong joins Tyler and Jonah this week to discuss Instagram magic, developing your art, and the public’s exposure to magic. While Harapan is not a full-time magician, you can find him performing from and reviewing magic books on his Instagram show, Fully Booked.
Growing up in Singapore, Harapan had a very limited exposure to magic. His intro to magic began after seeing David Copperfield performing his Grandpa’s Aces routine on T.V. Completely mesmerized, he spent the night trying to figure it out. For his birthday, his dad found a magic shop, called the Magic Castle, hidden away in a shopping mall.
The Amateur Magician
When he was younger, Harapan considered quitting school to purse magic full time, but parental pressure stopped him. However, he has no regrets. By not needing to focus on magic that would appeal to a hypothetical audience, Harapan has the opportunity to explore the magic that interests him.
Currently inspired by the blog, The Jerx, Harapan recommends their booklet, Amateur at the Kitchen Table, for amateurs looking for ideas and performance ideas.
Magic online, primarily on Instagram, is often a contentious issue that sees magicians taking sides. Harapan steps in to provide a young person’s insight mixed with the understanding of the older generations. To him, social media magic is just a new platform to perform on. Referencing Paul Harris’, Harapan reminds the audience that some tricks were developed solely for television. Social media has just become a more accessible video avenue
To grow on social media, you need to follow certain rules and apply techniques — it’s a whole new art form that Harapan wishes more magicians would explore and utilize to share their magic. He does warn, however, that you should be able to perform some tricks in real life to show people you’re more than just a person on the screen, but someone they can connect with.
Creating and Improving
While Harapan does highlight the pros of using video to learn, he focuses primarily on a books ability to better spark the imagination. To him, the value of a book comes from the number of ideas it inspires in you. This is why books with decent ideas appeal to him; they come with tricks that he is able to improve on, in his own way.
To new magicians–primarily young magicians–Harapan emphasizes the need to create your own magic. Creating allows you to understand your voice, pushes you to be original, and teaches you how to be unhappy with a method and how to find a solution to fix it. Where Harapan takes issue with creating is trying to sell a trick too early in your career. If you’re creating tricks for the sake of publication, you probably won’t be creating material worth publishing.
Public’s Exposure to Magic
As magic continues to mature and its popularity grows in the mainstream, Harapan hopes it will push magicians to be more original and become savvier with magic. Recounting a story told to him by Pipo Villaneua, he explains that Spain had two channels on T.V., and one was basically dedicated to Juan Tamariz performing card tricks. Spanish people were exposed to really good card magic at a young age, which resulted in the public knowing what excellent magic looks like. Young magicians were trying to top Tamriz which resulted in the amazing Spanish performers we see today.
Strive to be good at what you do. Strive to be original. In terms of learning, explore everything. Learn about the art you love. Never lose focus on what you love about magic. Be the best magician you can be.
Question of the Week
Why are you not reading Ascanio’s books on theory yet?
What do you like about 2018 magic? What do you hate about 2018 magic?
Harapan really likes how exposed the general public is getting to magic. They are seeing good magic which, as a result, pushes the art form as a whole.
He doesn’t like the gap between the newer and older generations. Where the new is detached from crediting and doesn’t seem to want to pay for the material, the older generations don’t exactly seem willing to help the younger generation understand the history of magic.
Endless Chain of Magicians
Jonah liked that part about encouraging people to create is fine, but releasing too soon is a problem.
Tyler liked the idea of releasing unpolished stuff to get feedback on via social media.
Harapan liked the idea of magicians getting accustomed to sharing online and generating a discussion about magic.