Remembering Darwin Ortiz

By Joshua Jay - Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Joshua Jay here...

On Friday, October 13, magic lost one of its greatest intellects. While this is an enormous loss for our art, we take solace in the fact that his body of work will live on for generations. In celebration of his life and legacy, we invite you to enjoy this download that we’ve made free for the next 48 hours.

"A Triumph and a Talk" is a remarkable interview between Michael Vincent and Darwin that was recorded at The Session. In classic Darwin Ortiz fashion, he offers invaluable advice on everything from making your magic relevant to the importance of viewing your magic from your audience’s perspective. You’ll even learn a stunning Triumph routine.

Darwin Ortiz a Triumph and a Talk

Download "A Triumph and a Talk"

Here's what I wrote about Darwin's passing:

Darwin and I have been correspondents since the day I first met him as a teenager. I wasn’t his student, but he was my teacher. It was truly inspiring watching someone forge a successful professional career while exclusively performing original material.

Once this material was honed and refined in real-world environments, he eventually shared it with our community in the form of five major collections of sleight-of-hand. My favorite of these was Cardshark, which came out when I was fourteen. I learned nearly every trick in that book.

Without question, his crowning achievement—and what he will be remembered for by magicians a century from now—are his two collections of magic theory, Strong Magic (1994) and Designing Miracles (2007). I refer to them as magic’s Old and New Testament. These masterworks ventured boldly into new territory, codifying dozens of new concepts, coining new terms, and revealing new ways to classify and think about magic.

Joshua Jay Andi Gladwin and Darwin Ortiz at Magifest

Darwin Ortiz receiving the Guest of Honor award at Magifest 2022

I can think of only two reasons Darwin is under-appreciated in some circles. The first is that, perhaps, Darwin’s strength was not charismatic performances (he was a good performer, but some couldn’t connect with his performance style). It’s convenient when the greatest thinkers and creators also happen to be exceptionally entertaining. But by no means do these things need to go hand-in-hand.

The other reason: Darwin was old-school. He might have seemed cold or distant to the casual student. He didn’t give just anyone access. But I can attest that if you demonstrated a serious interest, he was enthusiastic, helpful, and loyal. He was very kind to me over the course of my career, and offered specific advice and ideas to make my magic better. He cared. I mourn his loss, and I mourn the loss of his future work (particularly the planned, promised third volume of theory), which we fellow magicians will never get to experience.

For now though, It is a great privilege to share his brilliance with magicians around the world. I do encourage you to carve out an hour to enjoy "A Triumph and a Talk".

Download "A Triumph and a Talk"

Rest in peace Darwin, and never play cards with strangers.

Reader comments:


Wednesday, 18 October 2023 17:22 PM - Reply to this comment

When I received your email, I was saddened to read about Mr. Ortiz's passing. He was among the greats and will be missed throughout the magic community.

I had the pleasure of attending one of his lectures a while back and he was incredible. His skill with cards was exquisite and his insight and magic knowledge was rivaled only by past legends like Marlo and Vernon.

As an example of this attention to details, his Pinky Count explanation was simple. He dealt ten cards on the table (dealing as fast as a blackjack dealer fast). Card No#1 had only one card. Card No#2 had two cards, card No#3 had three cards in its packet all the way to card No# 10 (which of course had 10 cards in its packet). This simple demo was no less astounding as the rest of his presentations.

If you haven't already, his books, Strong Magic and Designing Miracles are must haves in any serious magic library.


Monday, 23 October 2023 02:34 AM - Reply to this comment

This one was a tough one for me. A quick story for you all. I was always an athlete growing up. Magic was for dorks. I didn't even think about it. There was popular groups and unpopular groups. I was always popular and full of myself. After I graduated high-school I went to a party/get together at my sister's apartment. It was there that would change the course of my life. She had a bunch of people there. One was one of the weird kids in the unpopular group I went to school with. At some point during the night four of us guys were sitting at a table showing a magic trick we have learned. "Everyone knows a dumb card trick". That weird kid though had learned a few. One that changed my life. He took 4 cards out of the deck. Some how they were all the same card ( the 2 of clubs) . Then they all changed into ( the 10 of spades) and then each card turned into each individual king. Four cards no extras. My face got hot, my heart rate went up and I was paralyzed. I couldn't believe that this happened infant of me. Using my sisters deck of cards at that. He taught me this trick he knew over the course of 2 hours. He didn't have a name for it he had just learned it on early youtube. At work the next day working as a mattress salesman at the time of 18. I walked over to what was Books A Million. And bought a book NY Nick Einhorn. I learned everything in the book. Months go by and I am obsessed with learning these very beginner friendly things. I start buying one thing in magic every paycheck. I always tried to get DVDs with the most stuff on it. All the goofy stunts with cards and magic makers dvds I went through. I never learned what real sleight of hand was or what it looked like ( or didn't look like ). I did not realize that there were famous magicians among other magicians. So I saw a DVD set with 10 disc's of card magic. By a guy named Darwin Ortiz. "Boy was I in for a life changing moment" I remember thinking when I put the first disc in. "This looks like an 80's porn I don't think I will like this". So I let my first effect play. I watched in awe as the first effect I saw on this DVD set is the very effect that had me hooked in the first place. It had a name and a face. This was the guy responsible for my new found love. That Name was (Jumping Gemini ). Here I am almost 20 years later heartbroken for the magic community. The man that turned me from a asshole Jock. And changed me into a magician dork. I wouldn't have it any other way.
I will personally miss this Legend.

David Lovern


Monday, 06 November 2023 05:55 AM

Thank you for sharing your story.


Friday, 15 December 2023 04:10 AM

What an wonderful story!

Leave a comment

Log in or sign up to post a comment about Remembering Darwin Ortiz.

Back to blog homepage

Similar posts on the blog: