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What does it actually take to make it as an artist? Especially if there’s no clear path to success? Whether your art is storytelling or magic, you’ll enjoy this wisdom from a magician who’s spent his life figuring it out.

How to Make it as an Artist: Nate Staniforth

In this episode of Character Test, I talk with author and magician Nate Staniforth about how to make it as an artist: what it actually takes to build a thriving career and stay in love with your art.

Nate Staniforth always knew he wanted to be a magician. The problem was, there’s no obvious path to success for magicians, no clear career plan where he could climb the rungs of the magician ladder. In order to make his dream reality, he had to make it up as he went along—and work really, really hard for it.

And he did. Nate’s cohosted a Discovery Channel show called Breaking Magic. He has a YouTube channel, and he performs his magic show all over the US.

But somewhere along the way, with all the practice, study, and hard work, he got burnt out. He lost the, well, magic that made him want to become a magician in the first place. He set out to find it again in India.

His book, Here Is Real Magic, is his memoir of that journey—from loving magic to losing it to finding it again.

Listen to our conversation here on the podcast:

What does it take to make it as an artist? In this episode, we talk about how Nate figured it out through trial and error, including:

  • Why Nate fell in love with magic in the first place
  • Why it’s easy to discover magic as a child—and how to recapture it as an adult
  • Why it doesn’t even matter if the magic is real
  • The massive gamble he took when he was just getting started, and how it panned out
  • Why he keeps challenging himself and trying things he’s not good at
  • Why he doesn’t believe you need to have a gift for magic to become a successful magician

You can find Nate on his website and on YouTube and get his book here.


Today, your challenge is to reconnect with wonder. What do you need to do to remember the world is beautiful? Take fifteen minutes to meditate, go for a walk, reread a chapter of your favorite book, or do something else to recapture your awe at the world.

When you’re done, share your experience in the comments section, and be sure to leave feedback for your fellow writers!

Joe Bunting
Joe Bunting
Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. You can follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).
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