I've read plenty of judgmental takes on magicians. Here's what I have to offer in mine:
Whether or not you like Blaine or Criss Angel, they are the reasons people even care now. They are the ones seen on television and the ones that helped make magic popular again. They are any performing magician's competition and comparison for the laymen. If you are not able to make someone believe they just saw tv level quality things, you will be inferior in the eyes of the spectators. And that's what matters..what the spectator thinks.
I understand the bashing of Criss Angel. I do. I was a huge fan of his first two seasons because they inspired me. I only had access to small street magic type effects and he was the reason I began to invest more into some of the larger aspects. If it weren't for him having the likes of penn & teller and lance burton, Johnny Thompson and Luke Jermay etc. I wouldn't have been able to get a lot of the insight I have. The problem with Criss Angel is that his desire and determination to succeed and his work ethic and love for magic eventually became wrought with exhaustion, temper, ego and in my opinion laziness. Looking back on his career you will see that he was an accomplished stage performer. He was raising the bar in many respects and was earning a reputation as a top notch magician. But where can he go from there? To me his early stuff will always be cool. Edgy, fashionable, unbelievable. Some of my best stuff has been inspired by him and his inspirations. Luke Jermay for instance is an incredible mentalist and one of the nicest guys I've ever met and it was disheartening when he told me how much of an [edited] Criss Angel had seemed to become once the success started getting to him.
David Blaine was my first real inspiration. Not his endurance stuff, but his practical and relatable nature when working with street magic. His ability to connect with people of all cultures. Some things I still can't figure out and I would jump quickly to assume stooge in several scenarios or '100th take' etc. but that's with all magic on tv. We only really believe, as magicians, that they can really do it if either we know how to do it (the secret, slight, gaff, prop, method etc.) or have seen someone we may find has been credible in the past to do it. Or maybe if we see it in person. At least that's my viewpoint. Blaine's magic was something new to me and blew me away when I first saw it. Then I saw a mediocre magician in the street put a cigarette through a quarter and thought to myself 'there must be some secret.' and there is. People can buy tricks and do them. Easy. Learn sleight of hand, learn misdirection and crowd control. If people like you, they'll like what you do. And that's worked for me. It worked for Blaine and it worked for Criss Angel and I'm flattered when I'm compared to them because a lot of people still like them and respect them and find them unbelievable. Once, I did the balducci and people swore I had gone a foot in the air. People's reactions build the illusion as much as the illusion itself. Sometimes I understand the edits. The add ins. The play on the camera. I try to learn from it.
I find it unimpressive to use a stooge in the manner of 'name a card' and they name it. Or an object to think of and you draw it. But what works in real life such as 'a center tear' doesn't work quite as well as a nonstop one camera shot trick. So...people edit. It looks more impressive on tv. Getting people to duplicate their signature beforehand is a surefire way to blow a crowd's mind. Planting a gimmicked coin on someone or putting someone at your 'bad angle.' I can only hate on tv magicians but so much before thinking 'that certainly does look more believable.'
Anyways, as I've practiced and worked with everything from cards coins cigarettes doves anything, my goal is purely to entertain in a way where people like what I do.
I still draw inspiration from others. I like to recreate my favorite effects and when I come up with my own I like to envoke the same feelings I get when I'm 'fooled.'
Cyril takayama is by far my favorite. My main inspiration and I think he's a step above most anything I've seen. He raised the bar for me personally and I felt connected the dots with clear examples of how to 'routine' and combine multiple effects better than most. His handlings are incredible, his insight to steet magic is far better to me than his contemporaries. And his combination of sleight of hand with gimmicks and presentation definitely keeps me going.
I have great appreciation for people who will invest the time into getting their effects right. People who strive for perfection and precision. But a lot, and I mean a lot of magicians usually fail to entertain the way they wish they could. It's more than the trick. It's the presentation. It's the self belief. It's the ability to amuse and bewilder the people watching. Engaging them and leaving them feeling they just saw something that can't be explained. And aah, the beauty of it all. There's no need to do 50 different false cuts and shuffles, to know 50 awkward palms of a coin, or learning every trick in the book. Or at least not in performing them all. Learn the impactful, the practical, the consistent and the mesmerizing. Easy enough. Practice a lot and perform when it's ready. And with being good at anything, a mistake should always be unnoticeable.
Sorry if this post seems random. Hope it's in the right forum.