Dan and Dave Buck, twins who grew up skateboarding in Sonora, CA, have done what only a rarefied few have before them: made a genuine career out of magic. After starting out selling their own handmade VHS tapes at conventions from the age of 14, the brothers, now 32, launched a business in 2001. Dan & Dave Industries is now a full-fledged lifestyle brand for those interested in magic, cardistry, and beautiful things: the site features some of the most thoughtfully designed magic products in the world.
The brothers are also pioneers of cardistry, an intricate, esoteric art form where playing cards are manipulated by hand, and their webstore sells a wide selection of both their own-brand cards and those they curate from around the world. Also in their quiver are an incredible wealth of how-to videos, and their very own convention, Magic Con (styled after TED Talks), now in its sixth year. Naturally, we had a few questions.
How did you come to this line of work?
Dan: We have loved magic since we were about 11 years old. Inspired by David Copperfield and David Blaine, we became interested in the creation and design of magic through performance.
Cardistry is awesome shit you can do with playing cards.
So what is cardistry, exactly?
Dave: Cardistry is awesome shit you can do with playing cards. It's not much different from skateboarding or fine art; we as cardists express ourselves through the creative and technical manipulation of cards.
What got you interested in it?
Dan: As young skaters we sorta just figured that if we could do all these crazy tricks with a skateboard, why not with a deck of cards?
Dave: There are no rules in cardistry. No secrets. No pretentious brotherhoods. It's open-source and available to anyone who's interested. It's fun, challenging, and rewarding.
Are you both magicians, too?
Dave: Yes. Although we're probably not the kind of magicians most people have in mind. We don't often do tricks for people.
Dan: We express our passion for the conjuring arts through our brand.
Yes, tell us about that brand of yours.
Dave: We love making things. If we have an idea, we make it happen. Our products are our ideas and we love sharing them with our community. Our heritage in magic is constantly evolving as our knowledge of the art grows. Slowly, we're creating our own world of magic for magicians to live in and live by. We're branding a type of magic that is more suave and enigmatic than what is generally interpreted.
For example, once, at SFO airport, I was sitting across from my wife in a swivel egg chair that covered my entire back. I rotated completely around, and when the front of the chair came into her view again, I was gone.
What's your favorite trick and why?
Dave: My favorite trick is one that happens organically: When a circumstance affords the impossible, a moment of mystery for attentive viewers to experience, I make it happen. It's different every time. For example, once, at SFO airport, I was sitting across from my wife in a swivel egg chair that covered my entire back. I rotated completely around, and when the front of the chair came into her view again, I was gone.
Dan: My favorite trick that I've ever seen is Penn & Teller's Bullet Catch. I have no idea how it works. I hope I never know. The mystery of a trick is far better than the explanation.
Tell us about the conference you launched, Magic-Con. Can we come?
Magic-Con is a conference for anyone interested in the art and science of magic. The thing you have to understand, though, is that magic for us is not just about magicians doing tricks on stage. Magic is all around us, and it continually inspires us and changes our lives. Magic is eradicating disease, finding water on Mars, educating the masses, promoting freedom, inspiring others, and so on. Magicians bring wonder and joy to people every day, and although that is very important, Magic-Con also goes beyond this and brings in specialists to talk about their field of study and the "magic" it offers. So yes, you can come—all are welcome.
Have you ever used your powers for ulterior motives?
Dave: Surely I have. I like to be honest, though.
Dan: Being able to think like a magician definitely has it's perks.
Mysterious. Tell us a secret.
Dave: There are no secrets, just discoveries to be made.
Dan: Magic is real. Look around you.
Your website says you both "share an intricate passion for deception"—should we believe anything you've just said?
Dave: I'm interested in how and why deception is achieved but not in practicing the dishonesty associated with deception.
Dan: Always wonder.
For more magical fun, see dananddave.com.