Mark is the owner of MEMagic (Mark Evans Magic). He is an established mentalist and magic creator, creating his own effects and even publishing his own book "Illusory" which he sells worldwide.
Mark started in magic as a hobbyist, becoming professional about 6 years ago.
Before setting up his own magic shop/website, Mark created effects and sold them via other magic companies.
Currently he is promoting a pro-lecture tour on Zoom, focusing on effects and routines from within his new book ”Illusory”.
The book is Mark's first foray into publishing and took over a year to write. To date, writing over hundreds of effects and including 16 of the best mentalism effects and 5 essays in the book.
In this interview, we talk about his passion to create effects, his website/shop and his lecture tour/book amongst other things.
Magic Seats - Thanks Mark for taking the time to chat with us today.
You were a hobbyist for many years. What made you decide to turn professional?
Mark Evans - For many years I had a keen interest in Magic and Mentalism. I knew a few tricks with cards, but nothing spectacular (all self working tricks). On one fateful day on a journey to Plymouth while on holiday, I found what can only be described as the worlds smallest magic shop, owned and operated by Mal Norton. It's a good job my wife is very understanding because I spent in excess of two hours being entertained by Mal, and then becoming the perfect consumer by buying most of what I saw. £300 worth of magic and mentalism I'll never use in the real world, but an amazing introduction to what was possible.
Fast forward to a few months later and I'm finding myself volunteer, working a day a week at a Magic Shop in Birmingham, and this gave me invaluable experience. It was from here that I decided to try and go from a hobbyist to something more. What made the choice for me was the performing! I love to perform, it's such a thrill to entertain others and for a few moments, have them believe in the impossible! Going professional seemed like the logical next step to me. Whilst working at the shop, the owner had been booked for a gig at a University, and needed a second performer. So he asked me and I happily went along. I can tell you this much; 400 students is a trial by fire for any first time performer! With that said, I enjoyed it for the most part, and from that day my desire to become a professional performer was born.
Magic Seats - And of course, going professional and performing was only the start of the story. Eventually setting up your own website/shop and writing a book.
I understand that your book "Illusory" came about from an idea to create a lecture based around non-commercial effects. The lecture talks you through and demonstrates about 8 effects, most of which are in the book.
How did this idea come about to develop the lecture and book in tandem?
Mark Evans - The original plan was to lecture in person, and when the pandemic first hit, I thought like many others that the effects of this would last maybe six months. After this, I could go about and lecture in person. So the idea came to me that, while I'm performing non-commercial effects that can be created by the performer in minutes, the observers would have no physical record of those effects and routines. So, by combining the lecture material and the Illusory material into one compendium, anyone who attended the lecture, or didn't has a clear and concise written account of how to perform the effects provided.
Unfortunately, the pandemic and associated lock-downs have meant that the only way I could lecture was over Zoom, and not in the way the lecture was originally meant to be offered. Maybe I'll be able to revisit the lecture in the way it was meant to be presented in the near future.
Magic Seats - Certainly it would be good to see the lecture as intended. However, the Zoom lecture is excellent as well.
Your book "Illusory" also includes essays as well as effects. I understand that one such essay is about confidence issues and anxiety. What can you tell us about the essays in the book and the subjects that they cover?
Mark Evans - The book has five essays. The first deals with using playing cards in mentalism which is a touchy subject for some die hard mentalists. The second deals with fraudulent Psychics, Mediums and Clairvoyants. This essay was the defining one for me, as I absolutely despise those people. Another essay talks about how anxiety and nerves affect us as performers. Next we have a essay about the creative process and finally I talk about Mentalism Vs Magic, an age old argument that still carries on today. Each of these essays offers my viewpoint, as flawed and as biased as they are, because they are personal and very honest accounts of my experiences.
Magic Seats - It is always enjoyable to read the essays included in books of effects.
Of course, you originally sold your effects through other magic suppliers/shops before branching out on your own. You now run your own website www.MEMagic.co.uk which of course gives greater control of your sale channels and pricing. The site already has a lot of effects available.
What is next for your site/business, any plans that you can share?
Mark Evans - Because of the pandemic I think most if not all retailers have been hit pretty hard, and I'm no exception. So at the minute, my core focus has been the lectures and the book. What I have discovered about myself is that I love writing, and in the future, I plan on developing further books on both Magic and Mentalism. I have a few effects in mind to release, but I would rather wait until everyone is back on their feet and ready to look at what I have to offer before adding them to my site.
Magic Seats - That's good to hear you have more products to be released in future.
I understand that a best seller is Mind Peek Lite - review site Magicians Advice gave a glowing review. Which effects/bundles that you sell are your best sellers?
Mark Evans - I'm proud of everything I put my name onto to be perfectly honest. Arcane and Mind Peek Lite are the two that stand out to me the most though, simply because they are simple and direct effects that have great reactions.
I recently sold out of one bundle that contained three effects and the book for £39.99 and that was a result of the lectures. Hopefully those who bought them find great value in what they received.
Magic Seats - I'm sure that they did Mark.
Creating your own effects and running a business, managing a website, distribution etc is quite an undertaking. Was it daunting setting up your business and turning professional?
Mark Evans - It was certainly a challenge yes, and still is in many ways. I became a full time performer before I released any effects, and then I found myself selling my very first effect through Murphys Magic. That was a huge stepping stone for me, and then I sold two other effects to another magic company that was just starting out. These two effects are without doubt my greatest regret as I no longer control them and a lot of work and effort went into developing them. I could see that many magicians including myself are paid a small amount for the work we labour over for so long, and someone else reaps the long term rewards. So, just like my good friend Vinny Sagoo at Neo Magic, I decided to set up my own business selling those effects I create, so I can manage them, and keep the prices at reasonable levels. The problem is having the time to do that, perform at gigs, have a stable home life and work in other areas such as freelance web design and graphic design. It's great to have many strings to your bow, but achieving that all important balance, and generate a modest degree of success is difficult and stressful but very rewarding also.
Magic Seats - I can appreciate that it must be very time consuming.
Now that we are coming out of lock-down, what future plans do you have?
Mark Evans - I'm hoping to get back out there and get some gigs booked once we are able to. I would also like to get out and finally lecture what was originally intended all along, I think that would be my main focus. I don't personally go in for Zoom shows, I think the restrictions of it being remote and often impersonal doesn't suit much of how Mentalism is performed. Who knows what will happen, but either way, I look forward to the potential opportunities that all of us can enjoy in the months and years ahead.
Magic Seats - Thanks Mark for taking the time to chat with us today. An insightful chat, thank you.
To learn more about Mark's services, take a look at his website and social sites below.