“My definition of magic is that it’s art”
Boston’s Joe Ledoux goes by many titles: magician, skateboarder, animator, and most recently, author, but he resonates most with a cool all-encompassing designation.
“I call myself a magical artist because when I first started doing magic, I did it as entertainment and I was really unhappy,” Ledoux said. “I remember thinking, If I’m unhappy performing as an entertainer, then what’s the point in doing it?”
Instead of performing for the entertainment of others, Ledoux focused on himself and began to “follow the path of an artist.” He attended the McBride Magic and Mystery School of Las Vegas and found his mentor, world-renowned magician Jeff McBride.
“When a student is ready, a teacher appears,” said Ledoux. Asked about the school, Ledoux said the members are “sworn to secrecy,” but still explained his path to magical artistry.
During his time with McBride, Ledoux learned that the magician believed in real magic and wizards, declaring that “a magician that doesn’t believe in magic is like a doctor who doesn’t believe in medicine.”
“I had a hard time believing in it because a lot of people seemed like frauds or con artists,” Ledoux said. However, he drew on his experience with drawing, animating, skateboarding, and storytelling, and formed his own interpretation of magic.
“My definition of magic is that it’s art,” he said. “I realized that in theater, when Peter Pan is flying, you know it’s a trick, but you still have an authentic connection to the art.”
Essentially, Ledoux believes that the “real” magic in the world that McBride swears by is found in all forms of art. For example, Ledoux believes that “a piece of poetry can function as a magical spell and the act of spell-casting or writing your goals down every day can change your life.”
Drawing from his inspirations, Ledoux set out to compile the best advice from his mentors in his new book, Muchachi’s Book of Wisdom for Artists. The work is a series of questions and answers from Ledoux to his magic mentor Jeff McBride, musician Daniel Brummel, artist Raymond Pettibon, and professional skateboarder Abe Dubin. In between Q&A sections, Ledoux’s comic character, Muchachi, appears in fantastical illustrations to complement the artistic advice.
Muchachi is a character designed after a toy bear in Ledoux’s childhood, with inspiration from the Kool-Aid Man.
“I was a punk and I liked his angry eyebrows while he smiled,” Ledoux explained.
Muchachi is often seen mirroring Ledoux’s life, in the literal as well as the metaphorical sense.
“Over the years of drawing him, he changed,” Ledoux recalled. “There was a point where I realized he was me.”
Despite Muchachi’s toy-like appearance, Ledoux says his comics aren’t for children. For Ledoux, having a character that models his life and experiences allows him to make art out of the pain, happiness, and mundanity of everyday life. Instead of constraining himself to cater towards entertaining children, Ledoux chose to make “completely free and honest” artwork “without a filter.”
The author explained that while he’s still young and has much to learn, he felt as if the wisdom from those he looked up to could inspire other artists to stay focused and creative. Most importantly, he encourages aspiring creatives to follow their personal passions.
“If you make something you love,” Ledoux said, “it finds its audience.”
Lucas Ruud is a sophomore journalism student at UMass Amherst with a focus in covering unique people, places, and projects.