Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. Know an artistic mind who deserves a little bit of blog love? Email [email protected] with the whos and whys.
All artists invest in a bit of illusion, transcribing ideas into creations using tricks of trade, whether it's paint, dialogue or movement to express themselves. There's magic in art and for Trigg Watson, there is art in magic. At a mere 24-years-old, this Australian Southern Methodist University grad is one of the only professional magicians in this city, but he's not your average white-gloved birthday party entertainer. He's constantly crafting new material, performing around the world and winning international magic competitions (we fact-checked - it's a thing).
Recently he began consulting for local theater companies, including Shakespeare Dallas and Undermain Theatre. Earlier this year, he collaborated with fellow SMU grads on the hit pop-up show, Galatea, for which he choreographed the magic tricks. Watson keeps busy. Now that you know his name, keep an eye out for the red headed guy atop a unicycle. He's hard to miss.
When did you get into magic? I was 4 years old when I saw a magician perform at a childhood friend's birthday party. I soon exhausted the library of its books on magic (this was before you could just Google things), began making magic props out of cardboard/paint, and performing for family and friends. I think at first, I found magic appealing because I loved knowing the secrets and it's fun to be able to fool your parents and friends at school. But as I've grown older, I appreciate the wonderful effect that magic can have on people.
Your work is more creative than pulling a rabbit out of a hat, how do you develop your act? I love the creative process involved in creating a new illusion and I'm always seeking ideas for new magic effects to create. When designing new illusions, I love starting with an idea that is seemingly impossible, and then working backwards from that impossibility, employing various principles and elements from other effects to develop a feasible method.
You see a lot of magicians who perform the same old classic tricks and use hack props that look like they came straight out of a magic shop. It's time tested material. I believe, however, as a magician it's my responsibility to create illusions that are more relevant to a modern audience. While some of my stage illusions are a little more "classic" in nature, recently I've begun to focus a lot on creating effects that employ everyday objects, whether it be a credit card, a can of soda, an iPad or a cup of coffee.
Do you do tricks or illusions? At a high level, they mean the same thing. But I prefer the terms illusion or magic effect, because they don't have the negative connotation that the word "trick" does. When I think of someone tricking another, I think of a street hustler swindling someone out of their cash or a cruel April Fool's day joke. The terms illusion or magic effect, however, are a little more elegant, and a little more accurate to what I do. Yes, I deceive people, but only to generate the illusion that the impossible has just taken place.
Why magic? I love the moments of human connection and awe that the art of magic can induce.Like music or dance, magic is a universal language. I recently had the amazing opportunity to take my 21st Century Illusion show across the world to Bahrain in the Middle East. While performing there, I was struck with how similarly Bahrain audiences responded to my magic. Their eyes would grow wide, mouths open in astonishment, and a smile would spread across their faces. No matter where we live, we all have the capacity to appreciate magic, and be entertained by that which is beyond our comprehension.
What/who inspires you? I enjoy watching the other magicians like David Copperfield, David Blaine, or Penn & Teller. But most of my inspiration comes from outside of magic. I love stand-up comedy and I learn a lot about performance and audience interaction from watching comedians. As a theater student [at SMU], plays always inspired me to find ways to engage people emotionally and tell a story with my magic. Working on Galatea reminded me how powerful magic effects can be when placed within the context of a compelling story.
As a magic designer, I'm always reading through old magic books and journals, looking for magic effects that have been long forgotten, but can be updated to fit a modern audience. I also spend a lot of time asking myself questions that begin with "What if...". It's amazing what you can dream up with if you really free your mind of all pre-conceptions of what can or cannot be done.
You ride around town on your unicycle. Do you get recognized a lot? Are there any other unicycle dudes/girls in Dallas? I got my first unicycle when I was 11 years old and I've been riding them ever since. I don't think a lot of people recognize that it's me. My current road unicycle has a 36" diameter wheel, so I speed along pretty fast. I also own a mountain unicycle designed for off-road terrain -- believe it or not this is a real thing. It has a fat tire and a hand break, which allows you to moderate your speed as you ride along a rocky trail. There are a few other folks that ride in Dallas, but not as many as I would expect, considering how much fun a unicycle is to ride.
What would the title of your memoir be? "Dream. Create. Perform. Repeat."
100 Creatives: 100. Theater Mastermind Matt Posey 99. Comedy Queen Amanda Austin 98. Deep Ellum Enterpriser Brandon Castillo 97. Humanitarian Artist Willie Baronet 96. Funny Man Paul Varghese 95. Painting Provocateur Art Peña