Life in a Flash

I was born in Basle, Switzerland, on the 1st of May 1959, from Italian parents who emigrated from Piedmont. Although I started in High School with mathematics and natural sciences, I soon found out that my talents were in languages, so went to the University of Basel to study literature and linguistics.

This was an unintentional smart move, because it ultimately made me fluent in six languages, which turned out to be a great asset when in 1988, after winning FISM for the first time (1991 would be the second time), I turned professional. At that time there were only two or three people in Switzerland doing magic professionally; now, almost 30 years later, there are dozens, and several tell me that I inspired them to take that step. In 1990 the MRS (Magischer Ring der Schweiz) held their first national competition, and as the winner of all categories I was the very first to received their Grand Prix. This reminds me of a comment my friend Pit Hartling made after one of my lectures: “You speak like an old man, without being one.”

Author and Lecturer

In the announcement to his Genii Bash Convention in 2012 Richard Kaufman wrote: “Roberto has become one of the most sought-out voices on magic and his lectures have grown near legendary.” This certainly pleased me, because studying the underpinnings of magic, treating it as an academic discipline besides as an art, has always captured my fancy.

I’ve started giving lectures at an early age, with much innocence and naiveté, but always with lots of passion and enthusiasm. A recent count revealed that I’ve given more than fifty completely different lectures in the past forty years, mostly on specific topics. This won’t even include the many presentations I’ve given on the occasion of the Jornadas Cartomagicas de El Escorial, the yearly get-together of the Escuela Magica de Madrid. The latter was founded by Juan Tamariz, together with Ascanio, in Madrid in 1971, inspired by André Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto and to this day remains magic’s only Think Tank. I’ve been one of only forty members since ca. 1980 and am glad I could contribute over decades to their superb magazine La Circular.

In the meantime I’ve written essays and columns for over fifty magic magazines, of which fourteen consecutive years for Genii.

Most readers will probably know me for my five volumes of Card College, which have quite unintentionally become the most widely translated magic books in history. However, my heart is also attached to the several other books, which carry in them a part of myself. Meanwhile I face the reality of having over 80 publications to my credit, including their translation into eight languages; this comprises a few electronic works, such as E-books and DVDs, with quite a few more in preparation.


Although as of today I wish I could make a living from writing, lecturing and coaching, But, alas, not even being one of the few best-selling authors in magic allows this. I still enjoy performing very much, due to my linguistic talents mostly for an international clientele, and as such have visited over 50 countries around the globe. I’m glad I’ve always made it a point that my clients pay one or two extra nights, so I could see the place, visit with local magicians and enjoy a good meal in town, gastronomy being one of my interests.

Part of my life was captured in “Il giardino dei giochi segreti”, a 50-minutes documentary by Swiss TV, and you can find it on the Internet. As part of my work for laypeople I also give interdisciplinary talks and workshops for industry managers on creativity, communication, and presentation. However, I feel particularly honored that magicians from China, the New World and all over Europe are now coming to seek out my advice and taking coaching lessons.

Meaning of Magic

Awards to me have always had a subordinate importance, but they have told me that I’m on the right track, and they’ve been a true encouragement to pursue a path, which requires a lot of work and dedication, without really being financially rewarding. In this sense, I was pleased when in 2012 the Academy of Magical Arts in Los Angeles gave me their Literary Fellowship, along with a lifetime membership of their uniquely wonderful Magic Castle, and in 2014 the prestigious Magic Circle of London bestowed upon me their John Nevil Maskelyne Award for Literature. Recently, in 2015, at the FISM World Congress of Magic in Rimini, they gave me their lifetime achievement award for “Theory & Philosophy”.

Dai Vernon used to say that in order to become good at anything, you have to devote your life to it. When at age fourteen I pulled that magic book from the public library’s shelf, and immediately fell in love with magic, I certainly didn’t realize that this was the door to my future. I have indeed dedicated my life to magic, without ever planning to become what I have become, but maybe because of this, things have turned out fine.

1987 Writer of the Year of the Magischer Zirkel von Deutschland
1988 Vice World Champion Card Magic at FISM (The Hague)
1990 Grand Prix at the Swiss Championships of Magic
1991 Vice World Champion Card Magic at FISM (Lausanne)
2012 Literary Fellowship from the Academy of Magical Arts
2014 John Nevil Maskelyne Award for Literature from the Magic Circle of London
2015 FISM Lifetime Achievement Award “Theory & Philosophy” (Rimini)

Grosse Kartenschule, Vol. 1 (1992)
Grosse Kartenschule, Vol. 2 (1992)
Grosse Kartenschule, Vol. 3 (1994)
Grosse Kartenschule, Vol. 4 (1994)
Grosse Kartenschule, Vol. 5 (2003)

Card College, Vol. 1 (1995)
Card College, Vol. 2 (1996)
Card College, Vol. 3 (1998)
Card College, Vol. 4 (2000)
Card College, Vol. 5 (2003)

Cours de cartomagie moderne, Vol. 1 (1994)
Cours de cartomagie moderne, Vol. 2 (1996)
Cours de cartomagie moderne, Vol. 3 (2005)

Card College Light (2006)
Card College Lighter (2008)
Card College Lightest (2010)
Secret Agenda (2010)
Introduction to Card Magic (2012)
Confidences (2013)
The Art of Switching Decks (2013)

Various DVDs

2004 documentary of Swiss television “Il giardino dei giochi segreti” about Giobbi


9 thoughts on “Bio

  1. Hello Roberto

    This is Michael Vincent messaging you from London.
    I have just returned home from South Korea to find your new book has arrived.
    I just wanted to thank and acknowledge you for producing this fine book.
    I have been very passionate about Stand up Card Magic ever since studying “The Royal Road to Card Magic”.
    In fact, I challenged myself to learn all of the routines in the last chapter just so that I could immerse myself in this fascinating distinction of card magic – card effects that play big for large audience.

    Your new book will form part of my ongoing research and development.

    My program of stand up effects has grown over the years, so I am excited to add more finesse to my work through your new book.
    Thank you again for your genorosity of spirit.

    Kind regards

    Michael Vincent

    You may not remember me, however, I remember you when I was very young, you came to London many times with Arturo Ascanio during his time at The Ron McMillan Convention back in the 1980s

  2. Roberto,

    You renewed my faith in this art. You are erudite and elegant.

    I am just a hobbyist. I am an IT professional, and have had an interest in magic for 50 years.

    Watching what is out there..the egos and lack of education…is simply depressing.

    I really hope you do a Harry Lorayne type video series…that is comprehensive and authoritative.

    I know you won’t…but you should.

    Kevin Shepherd
    Washington, DC (land of hysteria).

    1. Dear Kevin – Thank you for your kind comments, which are much appreciated.

      I’m not sure about the Lorayne project, as I haven’t seen those DVDs.

      But I’ve had several projects, which turned into DVDs and which are quite comprehensive. E.g. the first Penguin Live Lecture is 5h 25m, and it is a course in “Stand-up Card Magic”, actually reflecting the book of the same title in video format. Also, the Card College 1&2 are a set of DVDs “Card College 1&2 – Personal Instruction”, which is now out of print, but the complete course as well as each of the 22 lessons is available as a download for little money.

      In NOV I will be releasing with Vanishing Inc. “Card magic Masterclass”, which will be 5 DVDs (total ca. 8h) and it will deal with most of the techniques from Card College 3, 4, & 5 (no tricks). If you agree I’ll put you on my list, or you can subscribe to the newsletter, and I’ll let you know.

      Take care and keep up the enthusiasm.

      All the best, Roberto

      1. Dear Roberto, first Thanks for your invaluable input to magic as an art and theoretical discipline, as myself a scientist with interest in cognition, art, magic and languages, I feel that your work and studies are of utmost importance to make our art advance as a discipline and in its technical aspects.

        Now I have a customer question but you might edit it and answer to my email if you please: could you please tell me what is the best course of action:
        I have taken for a long time classes with a teacher but don’t progress very well, because we can’t meet often and I’m very busy, so I forget a lot and restart from zero. I am now commited to really improve as it is a childhood passion I want to honour (I’m getting old probably;)) but I think your books and dvds will be best teachers. I’m planning to acquire all six card college books, but I know I will need video too (I’m much of a reader and a collector, but with magic imagination is not always your best friend when learning compared to seeing). I have the opportunity to acquire your card magic masterclass dvds. But I see you’re editing Card College personal instructions 3 and 4. What is the overlap between these, please?
        Also, do you happen to teach courses through some meeting tool?

  3. Dear Roberto, I greatly enjoyed speaking with you at breakfast this morning after The Session. Thanks for your tip about the forthcoming Tamariz book and your links to your online essays. I hope you will take a look at my Jung Institute thesis “The Archetype of the Magician” and I hope our paths will cross again. All the best!
    John Granrose

  4. Mr. Giobbi, is it possible to send my copy of card college (just one book) to have it autographed? I would pay shipping both ways. Unless you planto be near me in thenear future (Baltimore/DC) thank you

  5. Hello,
    I have a copy of “About The Handling Of Double Cards” in English and I was wondering if you, Roberto, had one or needed one. Just asking, if so, I can send to you.
    Thanks for your time

  6. Hi Roberto
    I have your excellent book “Secret Agenda” and have been intrigued by one of your entries for some time and would like a little extra clarification. I am referring to the entry the Title of which is Marketing (July 11th).

    Your entry gives a small amount of information regarding your history and indicates that you don’t really market your performing activities in any way and simply rely on word of mouth. Indeed I have noticed that you don’t seem to have a performing website unless I missed it somewhere! I have seen your other website marketing your books of course.

    It is your last sentence in this entry which intrigues me. You say that the reader should consider how he ” can devote more time to the artistic side of magic and less time to the marketing of it while attaining and maintaining financial security” Great stuff but alas not much in the way of information on how to do this!

    I am therefore trying to get more insight on this by asking a question or two. First, I note that you have different activities besides performing which can bring in revenue. However, if you didn’t have these activities would you still be able to make a living from your performing alone? Would you say this is your main source of income and the other activities are secondary or just supplemental? Or is it the performing that is supplemental?

    You also say that at one point you were not concerned with financial aspects but solely concerned with the artistic side of things, Do you still think in this way? From your books I can tell you are an artist at heart and it must be wonderful to not have to think of marketing and be able to exist on word of mouth only.

    I hope my questions are not too personal but I am trying to figure out your philosophy on these matters. I myself really don’t like marketing my performance activities and I suppose I am trying to find an excuse not to do it!

    Anyway I would be grateful if you could give some insight on this.

  7. Hi Roberto,
    I have bought your Card College video set and I love it! One of the tricks included is “Homing Card Plus”, inspired by Francis Carlyle. I have been performing this trick for many years with great success in close up or in parlour settings. Now I wonder if it could also be performed on stage in front of 100 spectators ? Can you please tell me your opinion ?

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