Think With Your Hands by Jorge Sanders
In this week's blog post we have our first guest post from Jorge Sanders, a cardists based in New York city. In this article, Jorge shares with us what it takes to create a flourish, specifically, a packet cut, by developing a mindset where you end up "thinking with your hands".
Definition: A packet cut is a card flourish that implies cutting the deck in multiple packets (can be 3, 4 and even 5 or 6 different packets at once) and manipulating them in an artistic manner.
If you'd like to refresh your memory just how the cardistry community has been evolving, here's a video from Jorge's instagram showcasing some insane skills.
I believe this is a good article for magicians as well, to get a peek into the creative process of cardists. Seeing how cardistry is the offspring of card magic, there definitely is something to learn from it's child.
We all have to start somewhere. For those of you who practice cardistry but have never created a move, I believe the best way to ease into creating is to borrow an opener from a preexisting move. You can change this opener later if you’d like, it’s just a stepping stone to find a mechanic. Once you’ve been fooling around with a theme or action that excites you, practice slowly to realize the “feel” of your move.
I asked my friend and fellow cardist Matías Gómez Seeber, from Buenos Aires, about his very first creations. “If I showed you my earlier moves,” he said, “most of them have displays and almost none have particularly complex mechanics, which I now tend to use often.” I can relate; my first packet cuts were visually, rather than mechanically, motivated. Furthermore, I can say from experience that intricate grips and elaborate arrangements won’t impress anyone if they aren’t paired with good timing and thoughtful execution, so start simple. Something I’ve noticed since the rise of platforms like @bestcardistalive is that experienced cardists are less interested in whether a move is easy or difficult, but rather if it is distinguishable and well performed.
Laypeople definitely won’t notice whether your move is easy or difficult, so start out by creating something simple and fun and work up to the difficult flourishes later. As matter of fact, less complex flourishes are often more mem-
orable. Dutch packet-cutter Bram Duifhuizen told me about his first original card flourish. “The first move I created was ‘Magnet’,” he said, “I came up with it purely by experimenting with Nikolaj [Honoré]’s Autocross.” Matías also says that his first move had an opener recycled from a preexisting flourish. Similarly, my earliest flourishes were in z-grip or something else ripped from another packet cut.
However, not everyone uses this approach. Some flourishers may skip the tutorial phase altogether, like Romanian cardist Bizau Cristian. “[I] was too lazy to learn other people’s moves,” says Biz, “learning people’s moves meant sitting down and watching a tutorial, which I didn’t have patience for. So, I just resorted to creating original ones since I could do that anywhere, any time. The more I learned cardistry,” he told me, “the more my hands wanted to create with and from what I’d learned.” Use what you already know; even fidget moves or beginner cuts like the Werm can be built upon and repurposed. An opener doesn’t have to be the first part of the move you create, either. Some of my own moves have had temporary openers for a long time before I finally found something fitting. Sometimes a “concept” predates its opener.
Jamming is my favorite way to create a move. When New York cardist Linus Schmidt shows me a new move I’m often inspired to create something similar. The two of us sometimes laugh about how he’ll emulate my move which was inspired by his and vice-versa. Referring to his collaborators on Komorebi, a playing card brand that values experimentation and non-traditional marketing/presentation, Linus says, “I think as a team we’ve reached a place where we all mutually inspire one another in a constant loop.” Creative cycles like these are how our small community becomes more prolific year by year; we form links with those who are near us (stylistically or geographically) and these connections act as bridges where ideas can flow back and forth. More exciting still is the feeling of having a network of creators who are all inspired by one another, cross-pollinating the flowers that are our flourishes.
A lot of my inspiration comes from daily life. Often, small movements in the physical world will inspire me to try and emulate the event with a card flourish. For example: while working in interior remodeling I was tasked with disassembling old mortise locks from discarded doors. The internal mechanism of the lock gave me a great idea for a flourish which involved a bent card being used to lower a packet, similar to the way a door latch works. Many of my flourishes are representations of everyday objects interacting with each other, or a cardistic interpretation of an object’s essence. Music and visual arts inspire me as well, but these relationships are more abstract and probably wouldn’t be noticed by an observer.
But why should you create flourishes? Because that’s how this community evolves! Oneupmanship is why the commu nity is what it is; this is how we evolve the artform. Every cardist creates for different reasons. You might engineer a specific type of move for a themed video (e.g. cardestroy). You may find yourself creating a complementary move: a left handed cut to pair with our right handed cut, or maybe a sequel to another flourish. You might also create moves in order to stretch your hands and broaden your imagination.
Cardistry as an artform is barely twenty-five years old, so there is still much to be explored. While a playing card is a solid object, a deck of cards is quite fluid. Cardists use the properties of cards to their advantage, and if you dig deep enough you may discover something you haven’t seen before. Try to “think with your hands.” It took me years of fooling around to finally create a flourish that I am still proud of, but I know some cardists who created their first real move only months into their journey, so try it!
Dip a toe into the creative pool, you may find that it’s what you’ve been missing out on all your life.
NOTE: Show Jorge some love by visiting his instagram here where him and his brand-partner Linus Schmidt post quality content under their brand KOMOREBI.
LEARN SOME CUTS TODAY
Some very great magicians such as Gabi Pareras or Bebel perform cardistry moves as means of exercising their fingers. If you would like to pick up a simple move or two, here are a couple of great sources where to do just that!