Interview of Magic Steven by Freya Bennett
Hey Steven, how are you?
Everything seems to be fine thanks. And you?
I’m good thanks! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m originally from Melbourne, I’ve lived here my whole life. I do live shows under the name “Magic Steven,” which are a form of comedy or storytelling. I just started a new monthly night at a place called Bella Union, where I’m giving updates on what happens in the world around me each month, with musical guests performing as well. I also make these ink drawings.
Where did the name “Magic Steven” come from?
My first email address, years ago, was firstname.lastname@example.org, I can’t remember how I came up with it. More recently when I decided to start doing live shows, I felt my birth name seemed inappropriate for show biz. I thought about my email address. When I asked a friend whether I should call myself Magic Steven, she answered “that’s easy—everyone loves magic!” And I trust her, so I went with it.
Where do you call home and where do you WISH you called home?
Even though I’ve always lived in Melbourne, I don’t feel a connection to the place, just some people there. I’m not too sure if I’d rather live somewhere else, I don’t have much clarity around this but I do like being on the move—which is also called travelling. Some people don’t like the word “travelling,” they prefer the term “going away.”
Can you tell us a little bit about your drawings?
I cut A4 pieces of cartridge paper into 4 smaller, postcard-sized pieces. Then I usually draw 6 boxes in the middle of each of these pieces of paper, or, more recently, I sometimes draw two boxes. I make a stack of these and then I sit and take one and start drawing in the first box, and continue sequentially to make a narrative of some kind. It’s improvised, but in the last couple of months, I’ve started sometimes sketching them first in pencil and editing and adjusting them, erasing and redrawing, before finally drawing them in ink.
Where do the ideas for these pieces come about?
Generally it’s an intuitive, improvised process. I don’t know where the ideas come from. It’s an interesting question to think and theorise about, but I’ve never found the answer. Sometimes, though, I make a drawing as a direct response to something I’m personally experiencing in my life, on that particular day or night, as a way of dealing with whatever’s going on.
Your drawings are very calming and peaceful, do you feel that way when you draw them?
No, I don’t think so. My favourite ones are the ones drawn when I’m feeling a strong feeling about something happening in my life, or a person in my life. Sometimes I actually pace around not knowing what to do about it, and then I sit down and process it through a drawing. I think they now call this art therapy. I’m glad to hear they’re calming and peaceful!
What do you hope people get out of your artwork?
I hope my art makes people feel good in some way. I hope it spreads good feelings. However, I’ve heard the aim is not to think about this question when you’re making something.
What do you wish you could tell 15-year-old Steven?
Probably to try not to worry about what other people think, to be guided by what they call your “inner voice.” One confusing aspect of this, is that sometimes there seem to be multiple, conflicting “inner voices” you can tune into… One is referred to as the “doubting voice,” for example. You hear it in yourself and also in the external world. The other is your “bliss,” as referred to in the Joseph Campbell catchphrase “Follow Your Bliss.” Someone once explained to me the analogy of a toddler being driven to endlessly eat candy, and a mother preventing the child, knowing that it will make the child sick. They said we should listen to our inner “mother’s voice.” Seems like a good concept.
Why is feminism important and how can boys and men help?
I think I have a long way to go towards understanding feminism. Listening to what women have experienced, and are experiencing, seems to be the path to increasing awareness and consciousness about the problems women and girls face in this world. It seems that things are extremely unbalanced, and I feel like a restoration of balance could solve so many horrible problems we’re facing right now.
And finally, do you have any advice for teens wanting to get into art?
My friend from Gujarat, India, once answered this question with the line, “Don’t get into art. Let art get into you.” This sounds like a good approach to me. If you’re having strong creative impulses, follow them as best you can. They’re important.