“It’s been quite a journey.”
An interview with domino artist Lily Hevesh
At the age of 20, Lily Hevesh (aka @Hevesh5) is already one of the best known domino artists in the world. Lily has 2.4 million subscribers to her YouTube channel and over 750 million total views of her domino videos. Her videos have been featured on NBC, FOX News, Nickelodeon, CNN, and CBS, and she has done commercial projects for Disney, Marvel, Ford, Honda, and LEGO.
Since graduating from high school, Lily has built a full-time career working with dominoes. She returns to the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) for the 12th Annual Domino Toppling Extravaganza on Sunday, September 29, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. She will be joined by fellow domino artists Nathan Heck, Shane O’Brien, and Chris Wright.
How did you get involved with BMAC’s Domino Toppling Extravaganza?
I started in 2014, when I was 15. My friend Shane O’Brien (ShanesDominoez on YouTube) had been part of the event and worked with the Perrucci brothers [Mike and Steve Perrucci, who launched BMAC’s first domino event in 2008 and led the event for four years]. It kind of became a tradition. It’s always a lot of fun. In more recent years, people have traveled to the Museum just to see the event, meet us, and see the dominoes, which is quite incredible. It’s gotten some traction. We’ve created a community that comes every year.
I started building dominoes when I was 9, so I’d been building for 6 years before I came to BMAC. You need a lot of experience to do an event like that.
You’ve worked with Heck, O’Brien, and Wright on the BMAC event for a number of years. Do you see each other outside the annual event?
We work together quite frequently. I get a lot of professional projects--logos, commercials, live events. I’ve hired Nathan, Shane, and Chris for various projects. Nathan, Shane, and I worked on a domino project for Will Smith’s movie “Collateral Beauty” when I was a senior in high school. We’ve traveled all over the world. It’s been quite a journey.
When did you decide that you could build a career out of dominoes?
In my senior year of high school, I realized that maybe I could do this full-time. I took a gap year, rented a studio, and made a ton of YouTube videos so that when I went to college, I would have plenty of videos to post. I did commercials and YouTube events. From there, I went to college, knowing I might not stay all four years.
When I started college, I remember thinking, “Why am I actually here? I could be doing dominoes.” Being there made me realize how much I love YouTube, and I missed it. I told my parents that I wanted to do dominoes. My dad said, “Yeah, you’re definitely not going on to sophomore year, there’s too much work to do!” My mom wanted me to go to college, but she completely understood and foresaw this happening, because I was passing up so many inquiries in college. I took a leave of absence and have been focusing on dominoes full-time for the past year.
Do you know of anyone else in the world who works with dominoes full-time?
My friend Steve Price of Sprice Machines also does dominoes full-time. He was part of the 9th BMAC event. My friend Michael Fantauzzo recently decided to do dominoes full-time. Some people in Europe do it part-time. Other than that, I don’t know of anyone who’s doing it.
Aside from BMAC’s event, what is a favorite project you’ve been part of?
Nathan, Shane, Chris, and I were involved in The Incredible Science Machine in Michigan. We set an American domino record in 2017 with 250,000 dominoes. It’s always a really fun event, the biggest one in the country. You get to see builders from all around the world. A huge audience comes in to see it live.
What are your plans for the BMAC Domino Toppling Extravaganza for 2019?
It’s a surprise! What makes this event really unique is that we don’t plan much at all. Maybe I’ll build a certain trick I’ve been dying to do. What separates BMAC’s domino event from a lot of others is that it’s very free-form. It’s a great opportunity for us to build in an awesome space and have complete creative control. If you plan something to the exact domino, it becomes too predictable and too neat. We use unique tricks that don’t follow a specific structure, and I think the crowd really likes that.
I’ll arrive around 1 p.m. on that Friday. We build all day, till around 10 p.m., then build the next day from 9 a.m. to around 10 p.m., then the next day all the way up till fall-down.
Do you consider dominoes an art or a science?
You could classify dominoes as both a science and an art, but I mostly refer to it as "domino art" when telling others. We’re domino artists. But there’s also physics, creativity, engineering. I learned from testing, building, and just using my hands.
See the 12th Annual Domino Toppling Extravaganza live at BMAC on Sunday, September 29, 2019 at 5:30 p.m.
Can’t get enough? Watch the Best of Hevesh5 (9), and subscribe to her YouTube channel!