College of DuPage alumna Jeanette Andrews held her first paid job at the age of 6. However, it was not the typical gig that a youngster would have, such as running a lemonade stand. She was a magician.
More than two decades later, it is still the only career that Andrews has known.
“I first got into magic after seeing a Siegfried & Roy TV special when I was about 4 years old and I knew right away that I was interested,” Andrews said. “It started with me making up my own magic tricks like making my stuffed animals disappear. That year, my parents bought me a magic set for Christmas. I practiced a lot and did my first performance for my preschool class. By the time I was 6, I was being paid for it.”
Thanks to the continued support of her parents, Andrews knew early on that it was possible for her to make a career out of it.
“My parents took me seriously. They got me Siegfried & Roy’s autobiography and would read it to me in lieu of traditional bedtime stories. So I grew up learning about the journey of these two people who became extremely successful, and it never even entered my mind that one could not make a profession doing this.”
Today, Andrews is a contemporary magician and artist who specializes in creating interactive sensory illusions, possessing what she calls a contemplative take on the art of the impossible.
“My vision is to take the art of illusion back to a high art, with the prestige it held in the 1800s by bringing it back to the arts sector and presenting contemplative works. I enjoy finding historic magic illusions and modernizing them for today’s audiences, where impossible feats are performed by the viewers themselves.”
Andrews’ unwavering confidence in herself as well as her craft turned out to be well-placed, as she has become one of the most successful performers in her industry.
She has staged hundreds of performances for Fortune 500 companies, museums and universities across the United States, including sold-out and standing-room-only crowds at the International Museum of Surgical Science, Birmingham Museum of Art and Chicago Ideas Week. She has completed multiple series of performances for the Museum of Contemporary Art, including “Invisible Roses,” commissioned by the museum in honor of its 50th anniversary, and the recent “Invisible Museums of the Unseen.” She is also the only magician to be awarded an artist’s residency, including being a High Concept Labs Sponsored Artist and artist in residence for The Institute for Art and Olfaction.
Andrews said that COD played a role in her success.
“I initially didn’t plan to go to college at all because I already knew what I wanted to do and had begun my career,” she said. “But I thought to myself, ‘Well, I can still take classes that will help my business.’ COD allowed me the flexibility of not being locked into the typical timeframe of getting a four-year education or degree. I took graphic design classes and to this day, I still do all of my own graphics. I also took philosophy courses, which have played a big role in the foundation and research of what I do. I still actively use all of what I learned.”
Andrews supports people who are considering careers that may be viewed as unconventional.
“Only you know what’s really going to make you happy or what will be best for you,” she said. “One of the most fascinating parts about the world is that people have all types of different skills and talents, and we need that. I think the ideas that people have in terms of what’s considered a ‘traditional career’ are changing. There is time for you to figure things out. Just trust yourself.”
Photo credit: Saverio Truglia