Illustration & Magic

by Laughing Stock on October 20, 2011

 If magic is about transformation and illusion, then illustration evokes these very qualities. In an illustrator’s hands, reality is transformed, interpreted, concepted and nuanced with emotion, psychology, composition, design, personality, sleight of hand and all manner of magic. A perfect act of conjuring in the tradition of great magicians of old.

As Halloween approaches, the intersection of art & magic rises into consciousness. Perhaps it is because the tradition of magic is in my DNA. A first cousin, 3 generations removed, was one of the greats in the world of magic. Renowned for his transformations, illusions, seeming impossible feats, & even a master of leveraging the social media of his time. He was an artist in his field, as illustrators are in theirs. We even have the same challenges of self-promotion and could learn from his mastery of publicity & media coverage.

He escaped the bonds of earth on Halloween 1926, and if perchance his spirit returns, as some expected, and if you see him, please advise. He will remind us that the art of magic and the magic of art are indeed related, just as I am related to the Great Houdini & his brother Hardeen (Theo). This photo is from my family album (© Sharon Kurlansky), and I am told by a Houdini expert, that this may be the earliest know photo of Houdini & Theo posing with the Metamorphosis Trick paraphernalia.


I am fascinated by the illlustrative process and passionate about those who practice this most magical of arts, especially the illustrators at Laughing Stock. When you want to conjure some visual magic for your projects, hire an illustrator or license their stock images from some of the best in the field. Ka-zam.





Addendum  This just in:   As if by magic, just after this article was posted, Ronald Slabbers, our friend and contributing illustrator from the Netherlands, sent me an email that he just finished this image for his client, The Dutch Financial Daily entitled “Houdini Act”. Serendipity, synchronicity, coincidence?? You decide.

Illustration by Ronald Slabbers

Footnote:   “Some scientists see a theoretical grounding for synchronicity in quantum physics, fractal geometry, and chaos theory. They are finding that the isolation and separation of objects from each other is more apparent than real; at deeper levels, everything — atoms, cells, molecules, plants, animals, people — participates in a sensitive, flowing web of information. Physicists have shown, for example, that if two photons are separated, no matter by how far, a change in one creates a simultaneous change in the other.” “A Wink from the Cosmos,” by Meg Lundstrom  (Intuition Magazine, May 1996)

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Cat Bennett November 19, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Love this post, Sharon! What a relation to have! And like the idea that illustration has magic in it! That’s the fun of it!

Sharon November 24, 2011 at 12:20 am

Thanks, so much, Cat! Mutual admiration society.

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