Calum Morris has one of the coolest jobs in the world.
After years spent mastering card tricks and mentalism illusions, Calum - who has loved magic since he was a little boy - has taken the leap and become a professional magician, launching his own business from his Sheffield home.
“I live, breathe and eat magic,” smiles 21-year-old Calum, who lives in Ecclesall.
“It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I began playing around with tricks when I was a little kid, but it was when my magical heroes - people like David Blaine, Derren Brown and Dynamo - started making a name for themselves that I was inspired to take it to the next level.
“I started buying tricks, watching online videos and making up my own tricks using cards and coins.”
Calum spent years honing his craft, practicing his tricks on friends and family members. When he got older, he hit the streets of Sheffield, doing tricks for people in bars on nights out and making a local name for himself.
One of the highlights of that time for him was meeting his idol, Dynamo, a man he now considers a friend.
“I first met Dynamo at a magic conference in Cheltenham about three years ago,” recalls Calum.
“We met again a year later at the same conference and then, when he was in Sheffield on his world tour, he got in touch and asked me to come and meet him backstage. He’s given me so much encouragement, he’s a really nice guy and has always happily answered any questions I’ve had for him.”
But Calum, who is autistic and has a mild learning disability, knew he would need a little help turning his passion for magic into a sustainable business. He decided to approach Disability Sheffield, who were preparing to launch their Talent Match project - a year long initiative which would see them work with a handful of diasabled people in the city, helping them to pursue entrepeneurial activities.
“After meeting with me and hearing my business plan, Disability Sheffield put me on the project,” says Calum.
“I worked with them one afternoon a week and they helped me build up my website, get business cards printed and enrolled me on a business course. They’ve been so supportive.”
And the staff at Disability Sheffield admit they were wowed by Calum’s talent and, largely self-taught, skills.
Development worker Kathryn Littlewood says: “I’ve seen loads of Calum’s magic and he’s just phenomenal, we knew early on that he was really special.
“Our Talent Match project was designed for us to do some low-level business activities with young people with disabilities, but then Calum rocked up with his amazing skills and was business ready, which we hadn’t been expecting. That threw us in a different direction.”
Calum began taking on paid work and has now done dozens of shows, at conferences, birthday parties and weddings all across the UK. He has also appeared at numberous charity functions in the city.
“I still remember my first show,” he smiles again.
“It was a kid’s birthday party and I didn’t know what to expect. I was really quite nervous and I ended up winning them over by making biscuits appear out of thin air! The kids really enjoyed themselved and so did I, it was a great experience.”
Today, Calum is his own PR machine, still regularly hitting the bars around Sheffield with friends to perform a few tricks and hand out a few business cards when he has the time. And it works, the phone is always ringing with offers of work. But the best call Calum has had came from The Magic Circle.
“The Magic Circle,” breathes Calum.
“It’s what every magician wants to be in and it’s tough to get there. You can’t just apply, you have to show your face in the magical community, making a name for yourself and demonstrating that you’re good at what you do. If you’re lucky, you’re invited to apply and then you have the nervewracking audition.
“The day I was accepted was a great one.”
Calum, who is currently studying performing arts at college, to help him perfect his on-stage persona, also admits he is a 24/7 magician.
“If I’m sat still, I’m practicing my shuffling or my sleight-of-hand, my brain never lets up and it just can’t get enough of magic.”
So what is it about magic that Calum loves so much?
“It’s people’s reactions,” he replies without hesitation.
“I love the mystery of it and watching them try to figure out how something’s done.
“There’s something very fun about that.”