“I like to set such ridiculous projects for myself,” says illustrator James Gulliver Hancock, the author of All the Buildings in Melbourne (*That I’ve Drawn So Far). The new book is the latest in his series, following New York, Sydney and London.
“It all started in New York,” says Hancock of his first 2013 book. “I didn’t want to just draw the classics, I wanted to draw all of them! Kind of like that guy who’s walking all of New York. I love that kind of obsession.
The new edition does what it says on the tin: it’s a collection of Hancock’s colourful, hand-drawn depictions of Melbourne’s architecture – from prominent landmarks to interesting homes.
“There are famous Flinders Street Station buildings alongside some grandma’s 1950s cottage,” he says. “Ornate gothic stone buildings and crazy contemporary sculptural facades. What I really love [are] the day-to-day buildings where [people have] made strange little additions, or terraces down a side street.”
Hancock has even warmed to modernist architecture: “I’d previously hated the big brutalist blocks that seem to shout, ‘Go away!’ But I love that these beautiful sculptures [from] so many time periods sit side by side.”
It took Hancock several months to draw the whole book. “Each building might take a couple of days to complete, but I work more piecemeal than that. I go to a place and wander. I do a bit of actual sketching on the street, fantastic for mixing accident and the unexpected into the drawings.” But the studio is better for the messier things, like collage and ink-dipping pens, which is very much part of his style.
Hancock says he’s already working on his next book, All the Buildings in Paris, which is “super exciting”.
“I still love the title of this series,” he says. “It leaves it open that one day I’ll have experienced every place in every city everywhere.”