Given our name, you'll not be surprised to learn we love cards and cardistry. A deck of playing cards is, in our humble opinion, a thing of beauty. We love the imagery and iconography. We also love card games.
One of our favourite YouTubers is card whiz and skilled magician Ash Marlow. His videos on social media have had millions of views and are always great, especially the pub bets and hustles. Make sure to check him out.
While we’ve never been too keen on old-school magic, of the wand-waving, conjuring kind, the deft, skilful, close-up magic Ash does is right up our magic circle.
Wanting to know more about this master magician and social media success, we got in touch.
Leicester lad Ash now lives in Norwich, with his wife and baby daughter. Norwich being many miles from our Banbury HQ, and UK weather being characteristically lousy at this time of year, we opted to chat with Ash via the modern magic of Zoom.
Ladies and gentlemen, boy and girls, prepare to be entranced and entertained, baffled and bewildered, awestruck and amazed, by the miraculous magic of professional prestidigitator and crackerjack creator of cool cardistry, Ash Marlow!
How do you describe what you do? Are you a magician? Cardist? Trickster?
I also do a bit of cardistry. I have about 200 thousand followers on social media, and over 50 million views.
Blimey! When did you start doing magic?
I started when I was 14. That’s 20 years ago, incredibly! I was in the Young Magicians Club growing up.
I can remember my first trick. It was a card trick using just 4 cards. They would change from red kings to black kings, then to the four aces. It was quite basic, but it always got a good reaction.
I've performed at countless events over the years. I was sponsored by Red Bull for a time and did a lot of cool events for them. That was a great experience. But I don't perform stage magic now, and I am definitely not a children's entertainer!
I still prefer close-up and visual magic, with a hint of mentalism. I use everyday objects and standard playing cards. I like to keep my magic as grounded as possible - no special props - so everything can be examined and checked before and after.
What was it that hooked you on magic?
Good question. I love making the impossible possible, or at least making something that seems impossible become possible.
Showing someone something they have never seen before, and watching them react to it, is so positive and satisfying. It’s a great feeling. Magic is something that brings people together.
Who are the magicians that inspired you?
I create a lot of my own magic, but of course I’m inspired by other magicians. I’m definitely standing on the shoulders of giants.
David Blaine was the first magician that sparked my interest. He really changed the game in magic, bringing it to the streets, showing that you really can create magic anytime and anyplace.
As my interest grew, I started to research and study the work of greats like Wayne Houchin, Gregory Wilson, Jay Sankey, Dai Vernon, and many, many more.
My favourite people to see perform are Mario Lopez and an old French magician called Bebel. Look them up!
Tell us more about how you create your own magic?
I work backwards. I start with what I want to achieve, then what knowledge I have in terms of execution, how I want to present it and, finally, how can I make it seem more natural.
I am currently working on coin magic, trying to perfect my skills. This is one of the hardest types of magic to pull off. To really achieve it, every movement needs to be perfect, fluid, and natural.
To be really good at it will likely take me many more years to master. But coins are everywhere, in every country, so it’s a great skill to have: the ability to perform anywhere in the world, any time you want.
What is cardistry? Is it different to magic?
Well, cardistry is also a visual art. It’s the way in which one handles, moves, and shuffles cards. Magic is more about the trick. But cardistry can be adapted to magic also, and most big names in magic have some element of cardistry to them.
I do a card flourish called ‘The Hex’ that’s so visual. I love this move. There’s a tutorial on my Instagram. It takes practice, but it’s a very cool flourish.
How many hours a week do you spend practicing tricks and card flourishes?
I practice every day, mostly in the evenings while watching TV, or if I’m travelling somewhere. I have a deck of cards on me 24/7.
I have around 1,000 decks of cards. Not all decks are equal. While a deck of cards is a deck of cards, some handle and look better than others.
Some are made by brands, magicians, or designers I admire and look up to. Some are made in small print runs as low as just 100 decks, which makes them very sought after and rare. I have decks that range in value from £5 to £300.
My collection is so big now that I have it displayed in my magic studio. I also have my own card brand, Ape Card Co. I’ve released two decks so far, with 3 more coming in 2023.
We really love your pub bet puzzles and hustles. Do you have a favourite and have you won any bets?
Of course! All of them have been tested on friends, family, colleagues, and my very patient wife. I do one with three full and three empty shot glasses that's a personal favourite. Always a winner!
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get started in magic?
Read books. Learn from them. I suggest you start with The Royal Road to Card Magic and Expert Card Technique, both by Jean Hugard. Also, Modern Coin Magic by J. B. Bobo. They’re easy to find and not too expensive.
If you’d like to read minds, Thirteen Steps to Mentalism by Tony Corinda is a great place to start.
You can watch YouTube videos, of course, including mine, but you risk imitating someone else’s style, performance and presentation.
When reading a book, everyone will take the information differently and reproduce each trick in their own style. That’s much better.
You have a big and growing social media following; how did it start?
I have always posted online. There’s a great community in magic and I wanted to part of it, to keep in touch, and to grow my own following.
Lockdown, and having to isolate for medical reasons throughout Covid, gave me a lot of free time in which to film a lot, and I mean hours, of content. This helped my account and my following blow up.
What do you love and hate about social media?
I love the social side. I like being in contact with likeminded people - a community - and people who look up to me because of my content, personality, and skills.
I want to make a full-time living from social media and be a full-time influencer. My next goal is to hit the one-million followers mark on one of my platforms.
The worst thing about social media is the negativity and the people who troll others. I don’t take anything to heart - it’s just words and opinions - but some people do and it can really upset and bring someone down.
What’s the secret of your success of social media?
Just be yourself. Be natural and show your real character. Don’t be afraid to show your face and speak to the camera. Engage with your audience. And you also need to be consistent.
What other interests do you have, beyond magic and cardistry?
I absolutely love music: Blink 182, Angels & Airwaves, Box Car Racer, The Ataris, Alkaline Trio, Green Day, Matchbook Romance, New Found Glory. so many great bands!
I’m obsessed with football - I support Manchester United - and family time means everything to me.
I also have a weird obsessions with horror films, especially older ones like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), Halloween (1978), and The Shining (1980).
All classics! Now for a few random questions to get to know the real you. What’s the best way to start the day?
Get up early, think positive, and plan. You've got to get up every morning with determination if you're going to go to bed with satisfaction.
That’s the most wholesome and inspiring answer we’ve ever had to that question. Everyone else has said something like drink a coffee or have a poo! What’s your most annoying habit?
Biting my nails. Or maybe vaping. I need to stop both.
Please tell us a surprising fact about yourself.
I have never tried fish or any sea food.
Really? Never? Not even a fish finger?
Never. Fish just freaks me out! There's no way I could eat it. I can't even eat prawn cocktail flavour crisps!
Extraordinary! Gotta love a fish finger sandwich. Thanks so much for answering our questions today. It’s been great getting to know you.
Likewise. Every time I’ve spoken to any of your team, they’ve been amazing: so positive and passionate about the brand.
The quality of your clothing is just so good, especially compared to other streetwear brands. And I love my grey Wave Hoodie. I live in it! I need it in black now.
You do! And where can people go to follow and support you?
And finally, what’s in the works for 2023.
I have new card decks coming from Ape Card Co, as I mentioned, and there will be lots of new magic, cardistry, tricks and hustles on my socials. Join our magic community.
We're an independent design collective and award-winning alternative clothing brand. A share of the proceeds goes to the designer each time you shop with us. It’s why we tell you who designed each item we sell.
Passionate about alt rock and metal, we've been creating fresh apparel and unique wall art since 2021.
Stay cool. Spread the word ♣︎