Cardistry: The Art of Card Flourishes - Magic Month

March 16, 2017


As it's magic month, we thought we'd seek out a magician to teach us a thing or two! With this in mind, the brilliant James Pritchard has given up his time to tell us all about cardistry, the art of card flourishes!  

There is a dichotomy in magic between what an audience sees and what goes on behind the scenes. Ostensibly, something impossible happens, while the rational explanation is carefully concealed. You often find that the more talented the magician is, the less aware you are of their skill. 

Cardistry differs from magic in that the performer’s dexterity is clearly on display. Cardistry, a portmanteau of ‘card’ and ‘artistry’, is the performance of flourishes with playing cards. Cards are fanned, sprung, cut and shuffled in a variety of elaborate and aesthetic ways.

Cardistry dates back to around the 19th Century, there are images of it being performed by magic legends, such as Harry Houdini. Before Houdini built his reputation as an escapologist, he called himself the King of Cards and his publicity poster showed him performing one-handed cuts and card-spreads along his arm.

In recent years, however, the popularity and standard of cardistry have both increased dramatically. Its fast, visual nature makes it well-suited to social media, fuelling its growth. A community of practitioners, known as cardists, has arisen, with members inspiring each other to create new techniques and flourishes. 

Hollywood has picked up on the trend, with cardistry now appearing in blockbuster movies. Andrei Jikh, one of the most well-known cardists, worked on the set of Now You See Me 2, choreographing scenes and teaching cardistry to the film’s stars.

Cardistry playing cards are now available, with back designs that incorporate colours and patterns to enhance the appearance of flourishes. An annual cardistry convention takes place, where cardists can come together to learn, create and compete. 

Cardistry’s origins are in magic, but it has since evolved into an art form in its own right. It’s still young, rapidly evolving and it will be exciting to see where it goes next.


Many thanks to James Pritchard for writing this blog for us and we hope you enjoy him demonstrating tricks and cardistry in the video above!

 




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By Henry Fosdike