Domino Artist Lily Hevesh Explains Her Process

A domino is a flat, thumbsized rectangular block whose face is divided into two parts. Each end of the domino is either blank or bears from one to six spots or dots; 28 such pieces form a complete set, known as a deck or pack. Dominoes are used in a variety of games involving blocking and scoring. A traditional European domino set contains tiles with a spot count of zero to six; the matching ends of these gaming pieces must be joined to form a line, angular patterns or 3D structures such as towers and pyramids. Other names for domino include bones, men, or cards.

Lily Hevesh’s obsession with domino began when she was 9 years old, when her grandparents gave her a classic 28-piece set. Since then, she has become a world-renowned domino artist, creating intricate and mind-blowing designs. She says her process is similar to that of an engineer, and she spends a lot of time thinking about how the final design will fall. She creates test versions of each section and films them in slow motion, making precise corrections as needed. Then, she assembles the largest 3-D sections first, followed by straight lines and finally, the dominoes that will connect all the pieces together.

When Hevesh creates a large domino display, she starts by thinking about the theme or purpose of the work. Then she brainstorms images and words that might relate to that theme. She also explains how her work is influenced by science, particularly the laws of gravity. When a domino is knocked over, it’s because of this force, which pulls the top of the domino toward Earth and causes it to crash into the next domino. This “domino effect” continues for each successive domino until the entire structure is collapsed.

Dominos can also be seen as a metaphor for personal success. The domino concept suggests that focusing energy on just one activity can generate enough momentum to help topple other interests and create new habits. A small action can lead to a chain reaction that creates positive outcomes throughout our lives. A domino action might be as simple as making your bed every day, as Admiral William H. McRaven advised in his commencement speech at the University of Texas at Austin.

Whether we’re building domino art, or trying to achieve our biggest goals, it’s important to remember that the power of one is stronger than the power of many. Whether it’s a single domino or a group of friends working together to achieve a goal, the key is finding the right support system to keep us on track and knock down our obstacles. Then we can begin to see the true potential of our dreams. Good luck! This article originally appeared in the February 2022 issue of our print magazine. Subscribe to the magazine.