The Quotidian Beauty of #1011Drawings

Brooklyn artist Vi Luong is making 1,011 pen and ink drawings... over the next few years.

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Nov 10 2015, 8:00pm

A collection of Vi Luong’s #1011Drawings series. Images courtesy of the artist

By day, Brooklyn-based Vi Luong is a creative director at MPOWERD, a solar power startup that aims to bring affordable, hand-held, solar-powered lights to a global market. By night, Luong is MISTER VI, the artist behind the  #1011Drawings hashtag, a personal journey through what will be a years’-long process of making 1,011 pen and ink drawings. A ten-year veteran at advertising agency McCann, Luong began his drawing sojourn as an attempt to reinvigorate his passion for drawing. Using Instagram—and his over 22,000 followers—as a crowdsourced cheerleading squad, the artist posts near daily updates of his progress, showcasing everything from exquisitely rendered building details, to Manhattan vistas and lifelike caricatures of everyday objects like half-empty whiskey bottles (and of course demitasse cups), all in a myriad of sizes, from teeny-tiny on up to wall-sized.

The Hotel de Ville by Vi Luong.

Says Luong, “Drawing, has always been a passion and something I felt guilty not putting much time towards. So about a year ago I decided to start this project on Instagram to force myself to pick up the pen and draw something daily…anything. I set out to do 100 drawings but realized that wouldn’t be much of a challenge. 1,000, at the time, seemed more reasonable. I settled on 1,011 drawings because that was the hashtag that wasn’t taken.” Having recently posted drawing number 541, 14 months later, Luong’s extra fine Micron pens are still chugging along.

We sent Luong a few questions via email to discuss his project and delve into his process.

Luong working on a mural for Now Corporation's offices.

The Creators Project: What inspires your drawings?

I was an Instagram junkie prior to this and like most people, would document my life through photos. Now I see the project as a way to document my life through drawings. It’s better than a photograph I suppose. I always remember when and where I was when I look back at old drawings. The result is I pay more attention to what’s around me. You train yourself to notice what the pattern is on a particular chair or that the floor is made up of hexagonal tiles, etc.—because it all gets put on paper. And I love drawing details. It’s how I’ve always mindlessly escaped. Perhaps that’s why I gravitate to drawing buildings and architecture. There’s no shortage of details in a brownstone or an old building. And you never run out of those things in New York City.  

A drawing titled "empire No. 5" by Luong of NYC as seen from So-Ho.

Tell us about your process.

It’s been about 14 months and I’m a little over halfway finished with this project. I carry a sketchbook with me everywhere now. I spend a lot of time in coffee shops with my sketchbook. Some drawings are a few minutes. Others can take hours. Depends how involved theY are or how much coffee I’ve had. It’s been a way to work through ideas for other drawings later.

A frontispiece illustration for a friend’s recently-published book.

A prototypical NYC walk up apartment.

A luxurious library interior by Vi Luong. (#475 from the #1011Drawings series)

A Victorian doll house by Vi Luong. (#408 from the #1011Drawings series)

Be sure to keep up with Luong’s journey toward 1011 drawings through his Instagram.

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