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Meet the teen who is one of the world’s best domino artists

Most artists create works of art that would last. This one, however, makes artworks that come crashing down.

20-year-old Lili Hevesh is a domino artist who spends hours painstakingly putting up thousands of domino pieces in complex formations, then knocking them down in mesmerising chain reactions.

“That’s the cool thing — you don’t just stare at it,” she said about her work.

Having started out a decade ago, the Sandown, New Hampshire resident has already created the most ridiculous designs, such as towers and pyramids, intricate spirals, and even ones involving Rube Goldberg machines.

One of her most popular works is one wherein she led a team of 19 builders for seven days to construct and topple 250,000 dominoes. The event broke three US domino records: largest domino field, largest domino structure, and largest overall domino project in America.

Hevesh documents her entire process too, which has helped her YouTube channel amass more than 600 million views.

She’s also done projects for companies like Toyota, Honda, Gillette, and even Will Smith’s 2016 film Collateral Beauty.

And if those aren’t impressive enough, she not only builds for fun, but also to encourage more women to take up STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields.

“I’m one of maybe three female domino builders in the world, which is really low,” she told INC.

Amidst her busy schedule, Hevesh recently sat down with Lost At E Minor to talk more about her art. Take a look:

How did you get started with dominos?

“After playing with a set of 28 dominoes at my grandparents’ house when I was nine, I searched ‘dominoes’ on YouTube and was inspired by hundreds of domino builders’ videos to start building! People were building large 3D structures, spelling out words, making portraits, and other images out of dominoes!

“It amazed me that one could build such elaborate projects out of dominoes, so after watching many domino videos I decided to try some of the tricks I saw online and I became obsessed with building and toppling dominoes. I’ve been building dominoes ever since then.”

How do you come up with all these intricate and mind-blowing designs?

“Many of my domino projects are made up on the spot, but I try to innovate domino tricks and modify established tricks in a way that makes them unique. I’m always thinking of ways to build off of a trick, do variations of it, and try something that hasn’t been done before. There are always new ideas that can be explored using dominoes and chain reactions – the possibilities are endless really.

“I get excited every time I get the chance to try something new and see how it works. I get a lot of my inspiration simply from watching other domino builders’ videos and seeing if there is a way to build off of a trick and innovate even further. Ideas pop up in my everyday life and I write them down in an idea list.”

How long does it usually take to build one of your chain reactions?

“It depends on the number of dominoes and the complexity, but an average setup (around 8,000 dominoes) could take around three days. I have done projects up to 300,000 dominoes though with a team of builders. These can sometimes take weeks.”

What do you feel is your practice’s strongest skill, and how have you worked to develop that over the past years?

“A domino artist’s strongest skill perhaps is patience.

“With dominoes, it’s inevitable that you will knock something down prematurely and will have to start over. It’s a hard process of failing, but as a domino artist you must learn to keep trying. Keep going, figure out why things didn’t work, re-engineer the trick, and improve for next time.

“Dominoes have certainly made me a more patient person. They have helped me develop patience, persistence, and determination.”

Do you have a favorite amongst all your works?

“My favorite individual domino project is The Amazing Triple Spiral with 15,000 dominoes. It took 15 hours spread over eight days to build. This is by far my most impressive single project where domino lines spiral in on the ground, then on top of the wall, and then finally the wall itself topples.

“It was difficult to build because any one wrong move with a domino accidentally falling over could topple the entire project. I had to be extremely careful while setting it up to make sure that there were no accidents.

My favorite domino rally project is 1,000,000 SUBSCRIBERS! (30,000 DOMINOES). This is my personal record of most dominoes set up by myself. It features many unique domino tricks to celebrate hitting 1,000,000 subscribers on my YouTube channel and goes on two levels. It starts on the second floor, goes down the stairs to the first floor, then back up to the second floor, and back down to the first floor.”

Finally, what would be your dream chain reaction project?

“My dream domino project is to break the domino world record (over 4.5 million dominoes) with domino builders from all over the world. This would be very difficult to organize, but if the funding, space, builders, and amount of dominoes were available I’d love to attempt the record!”

You can see more of Hevesh5’s work over on her YouTube channel.