St. Patrick's Cathedral

James Gulliver Hancock began the monumental project after moving to New York in 2009.

American Museum of Natural History

Drawing buildings became a way for him to make sense of his overwhelming surroundings.

25 Sutton Place

"I love the daily buildings, the sometimes overlooked buildings, and bringing out their details," Hancock tells Co.Design.

The Apple Store

Says the artist: "Really, the project is about making New York more real for myself and building up relationships with buildings I spend time with and draw."

1 Central Park South

"I think by focussing on certain particular objects," Hancock tells Co.Design, "you can build up a stronger affinity with that object. If I drew oranges all day, I would feel confident I could draw an orange any time."

Flatiron Building

Hancock doesn’t overlook the important New York City monuments.

Strand Bookstore

But he also documents neighborhood institutions.

Chrysler Building

How could he not include the Chrysler Building?

9 St. Mark's Place

How could he not include the Chrysler Building?

New Museum

How could he not include the Chrysler Building?

210 Lafayette Street

How could he not include the Chrysler Building?

83 Mott Street

How could he not include the Chrysler Building?

1 Thomas Street

How could he not include the Chrysler Building?

Co.Design

An Artist Attempts To Draw All The Buildings In New York

John Gulliver Hancock still has a ways to go, but you can check his progress so far in a new book.

John Gulliver Hancock has an obsession. The artist has taken it upon himself to draw every building in New York, an ambitious goal that he expects will extend “well after I’m dead.”

This isn’t the first time he’s been drawn to an exhaustively obsessive, seemingly impossible project. Previously, he attempted to document all the rooftops in Paris, all the cars in Los Angeles, and all the bikes in Berlin. Australian by birth, Hancock has traveled all around the world, ritualistically recording objects as a means of familiarizing himself with foreign places. The buildings series began when he relocated to Brooklyn in 2009. As he writes in the introduction to his new book, All the Buildings in New York, cataloging has “become an almost ritualistic undertaking, a therapy of sorts, helping me to organize the overwhelming infinity and chaos of New York into something I can know and understand.” And with each new building, he immerses himself deeper into a city that he once saw through a tourist’s eyes as a film set of pop-cultural references.

Hancock’s subjects run the gamut from the iconic to the prosaic--from must-see structures like the Chrysler building to lesser-known neighborhood fixtures like 75 1/2 Bedford Street. Uniting them all is a signature retro style of limited, washed-out colors underneath thick black lines.

He maintains that he has no favorites apart from whatever building he’s currently drawing. “It’s typical as a creative, I think, to be in love with what you are working on at the present moment,” he tells Co.Design. “Like most relationships, the drawing process is a roller coaster full of love, frustration, and a sense of achievement.”

Most of the buildings Hancock has drawn so far have been pulled from Manhattan’s cityscape, and he doesn’t expect to broaden his scope anytime soon: “I think New York is such an anomaly in its dense structure that it makes sense to focus [on that].”

See more on Hancock’s blog; the book is available here for $14.

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1 Comments

  • $27180517

    I love this...keep it up, brings me home as I wander the world in the mean time.