For a year now I had a lot of stuff to do outside of the frames of Cardistry. “Stuff” includes studying (school, online programming courses), training (jiu-jitsu mainly), girlfriend, friends, pets, and work around home (helping my family with random tasks). This takes an enormous amount of time. Unfortunately, because of this “stuff” I rarely have time to sit down in my room and just practice or create a new flourish like I used to.

I have a great passion for Cardistry and I can’t live a day without shuffling a pack of cards. Because of that, I have to find time for cards during the day. So the only times my hands are free for cards are when I am chilling outside with friends or my girlfriend. They don’t mind, even though I think I am annoying because often when I take the cards out of the box, I can’t put them back in. However, I found out that this isn’t half bad. You can still practice, experiment, create and have fun while doing it.

Practice is more efficient since you are outside – there, you have the weather, the wind, all the people staring at you, all the screams, laughs, talks and random noises which are obstacles that can’t be simulated in your room – your comfort zone. Beside this, most of the time you are also walking while flourishing. These things get you out of your comfort zone. This makes your Cardistry more stable. Cardistry outdoors also affects your creativity. It’s a mindset and each one of us is inspired by different things, but I think there is something universal that inspires all artists: Nature.

Cardistry as a state of mind

The world around us is beautiful. For me, woods, lakes, mountains, seas, and all kinds of landscapes make me think more openly. They crack open my head. I don’t necessarily have to think about what’s next while I am creating the move. Ideas and entire moves emerge in my mind. There isn’t just nature – experiment with the environment. Try to flourish in an industrial zone with buildings, factories, cars, and so on. Change the place.

Different thought patterns flow through your mind when the setting is different. Try doing flourishes in different places to see what works best for you. I mentioned something called ‘setting’. This comes from the mind of Timothy Leary. I incorporated his ideas on psychedelic experiences called ‘set and setting’. Set initially means state of mind and setting being the environment.

Now, try to combine cardistry with those ideas. Go out confident and sure that you will get or create something new, and you most probably will. Go out thinking that you can’t create anything or you won’t create anything today, and you most probably won’t get anywhere. It’s a mindset. Furthermore, doing cardistry while being happy, sad, or angry and so on affects how you move. When I am mad at something I tend to become Brian Tudor. Fast cuts, as fast as I can. When I am sad I tend to do the moves slower. While being outside, different emotions can hit you because of the events that happen around you. It’s all about creating a certain mindset each time you are outside in the chosen environment, shuffling. Set and setting will give birth to new ideas and flourishes that you never thought about.

Using cardistry as a life journal

Another thing that I love to do with flourishes created outdoors is to bind them with memories or simply let the flourishes become memories. Let’s say you are on a trip with friends or family in another city, state, or country. Think of something inspiring. As I am writing this I am thinking of Egypt – let’s summarize it just to pyramids. I get inspired by the ancient knowledge of the Egyptians, their way of thinking, art, patterns, and the whole environment around me. I start creating something new. Finally, I create a new flourish. I will remember when and where I got the idea or the entire move. Now each time you perform this flourish to a laymen or cardist, or while explaining how you came up with it, you will remember that time in Egypt.

This was just a made-up example, but I have real ones. I have flourishes as memories created in different countries and places.  Here you can see me jamming in Cappadocia, Turkey. The whole environment was really different from what I have seen up until that point. It was very refreshing and inspiring for me. I didn’t create a whole move back then but I got some ideas that lead to creating a new move afterwards.

I came back home last weekend. Here is another video from Turkey. #cardporn #cardflourishing #cardistry #dealersgrip #flourishes

A post shared by Nikolay Kolibarov (@nikolayandcards) on

I am sure most of the people who were at magic/cardistry conventions can relate to this: “Hey, want to see something cool I came up with at Cardistry-Con/Magic-Con?” This is something that I have heard quite a lot after this year’s first standalone conference on the art of Cardistry. People remember those good times crushing the packets with other people sharing the same passion for this art. This is awesome! However, try to link your flourishes not only to events but to places and the different states you’ve been through.  When I think of such flourish memories, I like to think also of how I was at that point at life and how I am now. This keeps track of us. This shows our progress not just in Cardistry but in life as well.

Performing for strangers

Continuing with the outdoor cardistry benefits, there is one more thing I want to point out. We shouldn’t limit ourselves by just thinking that style is the most important part. There is something else to it. Interaction is what every single layman desires. Try to do moves that the spectator actually gets to take takes part in. I am going to use a flourish by Chris Severson for example:

See how Chris got the idea to use the hand of a spectator? This is much better than just ending it on the table.  Another idea is to make the spectator blow in Franky’s Windchill move where he spins the packet by blowing it himself. A spectator wants interaction. Get under his skin. What would he want to see, what would make him go “Damn”? This is something you will have to explore since every single person has their own unique experience. Some people would like to see how you incorporate cardistry with something they are familiar with – not just mad packet havoc. Explain what you are doing. Show something that the spectator can relate to . Perform a cool four-card production and that you have full control over the deck, leading to your advantage at a card game. Everyone has seen those mad dealers in the movies, where they know exactly how they mix and where to deal, everyone knows Gambit or The Joker, even Twisted Fate. Laymen will most likely compare you with them. It’s all good – just try not to be compared to Dynamo.

SimilarArts

Imagine this the following way: yo-yo, balisong, kendama, etc. are all arts like Cardistry. They’re manipulation at their core. But from a superficial standpoint, you cannot understand the true beauty of yo-yo, balisong, kendama, etc. Not because you are not into it, but because most likely you are just watching it but no one has explained the magnificence of the art: just like a layman with cardistry. Interaction, explanation and performance will give the spectator and awesome experience and will have a big impact.

Try to give sense to your flourishes. I feel like most people for whom I have performed in the past were left with the impression that Cardistry is a waste of time. This is because I just did sick packet cuts one after another. Maybe throw in a fan in there. No explanation, no interaction. Just shuffling. People on the street didn’t go out to watch your performance. They lose interest quickly if you are repetitive and don’t build up towards something greater. Keep it fresh and don’t do your best moves first. Hype shit up!

“Yeah it’s all cool with those cool cuts but why are you doing it? I can shuffle like a normal person and we can still play games (wtf lol). Why not do magic tricks ?”

AverageLayman

Don’t let people tell you such things. Explain that this is a separate art from card magic. Because Cardistry is so new, most people have never seen it live. I have never met a person who has said, “Oh, you are doing cardistry/XCM/card flourishes.” So they don’t know what the hell is going on. I like to tell them that it is a performance art that can be compared to yo-yo. Everyone knows yo-yo. I am not telling you to follow my lead. Every cardist is unique. Have your own style, pattern and way of performing – impress the audience and make them remember you with Cardistry, not just crazy shuffling or card tricks. I have always felt that Cardistry is superior to all other show-off arts. Not because I am a cardist, but because you use an ordinary everyday object that’s used for games and is not initially made for Cardistry. People get stunned because they have no idea that such things are even possible.

Most of the time when I perform magic and I have to shuffle the deck for some reason, and when I whip out a Squeeze or a Mockingbird, people tend to get impressed more by the cuts than the actual card trick. There was one time when another magician was doing tricks and he had no idea what I could do, and in the middle of the trick he asked me to shuffle the cards. I did Madonna 1 and the other spectators were like “WHAAAAT” and they were more impressed by the flourishes than the actual tricks. They asked him if he could do Cardistry instead of magic. Well, he couldn’t. The tables had turned. Such irony… haha. Those people got even more impressed when I told them that I don’t even mix up the cards – that I keep track of the packets and  they stay in order the entire time.

Closing thoughts

To sum things up, with this article I want you to go beyond just finishing reading  it. I want you to try out these ideas and see what happens. Go out with a pack of cards and some earphones, and have a jam/practice session. Look around you while you do it. Think about the things you see. Give them meaning. Try to open up your mind. Try every single idea that comes to your mind: grips, cuts, shots, isolations, everything! More ideas will come once you try them. When you get an idea that you like and you want to build it up, remember that time. Remember the spot. Once in a while, remember to think of who you are and what you have accomplished up until this point. Not just from a financial standpoint, but also as a person. How did you improve, which bad perks of yours did you remove, and how can you improve even more? After all, it’s not all about money. Have this memory of when you created the new move or got the idea. These are like checkpoints on where you were and who you were. We never stay the same. We always grow. Our way of thinking changes. Different mindsets create different flourishes. See why you got to this idea. Which actual thoughts made you reach that idea? It’s nice to understand both the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of your card flourishes. With time, see how the different states of your mind can create different type of flourishes. Afterwards, when you have enough of the the jam/practice session, go and introduce the art of Cardistry to some strangers. Just approach them. It doesn’t matter if you are alone or with friends – they will have a good time as well. Approach the spectators by saying that you will show them something new with cards that they probably haven’t seen in their entire life or whatever works for you. Make it interesting. Connect with the spectators. See what they enjoy and what you should perform next. Flourish. Leave a mark. Make it so that they remember it and tell others about you afterwards. Keep it positive. It’s really nice when you perform Cardistry for people and after enjoying it they have a good story to tell about a guy who can make amazing and beautiful things happen with a ordinary deck of cards (as well as rob you at a poker game). Enjoy Cardistry, as well as the world around you. It is magnificent.

Hope that my article was a nice read – that it was interesting, made you think, will help you with creativity, and performance, as well as have you feeling good overall and thrilled to explore the beauty of the outdoors through Cardistry.

PS: I shuffled while writing it.


This is my first article, so I would like to know how I can improve my writing. Please comment with your thoughts below, thanks!

About Nikolay Kolibarov

Nikolay Kolibarov is a 16-year-old cardist from Bulgaria. He has been shuffling for 4 years. You can find him on Instagram @nikolayandcards