Domino artist and YouTube phenom, Lily Hevesh, aka Hevesh5, at TownPlace Suites Swedesboro Philadelphia. (Photos: Nicole Gailbraith)
For most artists, witnessing the destruction of their painstaking creations would cause them heartbreak. But for professional domino artist Lily Hevesh, taking down her elaborate feats of art — and engineering — is the point. “You don’t set it up to look at it, you set it up to knock it down,” says the 18-year-old Hevesh. “That’s the cool thing — you don’t just stare at it.”
A genuine viral sensation, the Sandown, New Hampshire, resident has garnered more than 1 million subscribers on YouTube and more than 250 million views of the clips of her colorful creations falling down.
The recent high school graduate films all of her own videos and also has taken part in group installations featuring more than 300,000 dominoes. As part of a 19-member team, she set a Guinness World Record in 2016 for most dominoes toppled in a circle field — 76,017.
Hevesh, who is taking a gap year before enrolling in Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the fall, has traveled around North America and Europe for her installations.
She also has done some of her most high-profile work for TV and film, including a spot for the Honda Fit, a scene in the 2016 Will Smith film “Collateral Beauty” and the official lyric video for Bethany Mota’s song “Need You Right Now” (co-directed by Kevin Jonas), for which she spelled out the title (and toppled the tiles).
While setting up another made-for-destruction installation at the TownePlace Suites Swedesboro Philadelphia, Marriott TRAVELER talked to Hevesh about her eye for design, how dominoes helped with her college essays and her bucket list destination.
What got you interested in dominoes?
I was intrigued by how they fall over. I thought they would just be in a line. But when I saw people do portraits, structures and different tricks, I needed to get more dominoes to try it myself, and it grew from there.
For a project such as your recent installation at the TownePlace Suites in Swedesboro, New Jersey, where you practically covered a two-bedroom suite in some 8,000 dominoes, how do you come up with the design?
I do it all freehand. I didn’t know the layout of the room before I got there. It’s all based on the surfaces and how I can fit the dominoes.
What was the most challenging aspect of the installation?
The most difficult part was figuring out reliable ways to connect each trick, especially if they were on elevated surfaces. For example, going from the floor to a picture frame on the wall then back down to the ground. I had to be extremely careful when walking around with dominoes everywhere.
Do you have a favorite installation of all the ones you’ve done?
My most memorable installation as a solo artist was the amazing triple spiral. This was by far my most artistic and impressive project to date. Nobody had done anything like this project before, and I was ecstatic that it fell exactly as planned with not one domino out of place.
How did your love of dominoes impact your decision to study mechanical engineering and product design in college?
I was always interested in math, science and art, which is what dominoes are about. Writing my college essays made me realize how much dominoes have influenced me — they have helped teach me patience and perseverance.
You have traveled to Great Britain, Canada and various places in the U.S. — all because of dominoes. What’s the coolest spot you’ve visited?
The coolest place I’ve traveled was to London. It was such a beautiful city with so many things to do. We went during the holiday season, and it was the coolest thing to see London all dressed up in lights for the holidays. I traveled there for the “Collateral Beauty” premiere — they put us up in a five-star hotel, and I got to walk the red carpet, so it was surely an unforgettable experience.
What’s next on your itinerary?
I definitely want to go to Germany. A lot of domino builders live there, and I’ve heard it’s a great country! I’m going to Austria for a team week event. Builders from all over Europe are going to be there. I’m going to be the first American builder on the team.
What’s your favorite part about the travel associated with your projects?
I get to meet other builders. Everyone has their own unique style — it gives you a different perspective on your own projects and how to tackle them.
Where else do you find inspiration?
Sometimes my dreams give me new ideas and new tricks I haven’t seen before. I write them down and hopefully try them out the next day.