This chaotic collaborative online fan art project keeps the Battle of Alberta rivalry alive

Fans of the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers created logos for their teams in a giant digital art project on Reddit between April 1 and 4. (Reddit - image credit)
Fans of the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers created logos for their teams in a giant digital art project on Reddit between April 1 and 4. (Reddit - image credit)

Alberta's celebrated sporting rivalry — between the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames — reached a whole new level and an entirely new platform last week.

It started as a single pixel as part of a rare online fan art project on the social media platform Reddit and quickly turned into the latest Battle of Alberta.

Reddit is a discussion website that consists of threads or communities called subreddits where users come together to discuss specific topics.

One specific subreddit, r/Place, created a blank canvas where users could create a pixelated image.

The caveat is that a single user can only drop a single pixel of colour every five minutes. That time delay, however, allows other users to try and take over the same area with their own artwork.

It's easy to foresee what happens then when thousands of people from around the world all come together to create their favourite memes, cartoons and words in a dense, mishmash piece resembling pixelated art straight from the MySpace era.

Submmited by Brock Leavitt
Submmited by Brock Leavitt

To ensure the prime real estate on the canvas doesn't get hijacked and erased, users need to come together to collaborate on the project.

That's why the Oilers and Flames fans came together to create their respective logos.

"It's a really interesting social experiment," said Brock Leavitt, an Edmontonian who worked on the Oilers logo.

"[People] just kind of band together and kind of stake their claim on a piece of territory on the canvas.

"It's really interesting how it all comes together."

Fans from each hockey group connected on Discord, an instant messaging app frequently used by gamers, and started discussing a strategy to place and hold the location of their logo.

Hundreds of Flames and Oilers fans battled for days creating their logos while fighting off individuals from the opposing teams as well as other internet communities and bots in a race to finish and keep their piece on the online canvas before the subreddit closed Monday night.

For days, art formed, disappeared and formed again all over the canvas as thousands of people from around the world participated, trying to make their mark or erase others.


The process also included some diplomacy with alliances formed to keep their spot. Edmonton fans allied with St. Louis Blues and New York Islanders supporters, while Flames fans formed pacts with Vancouver Canucks fans and Taiwan.

Flames, Canucks and Taiwan fans also partnered with the popular video game Minecraft community to help them give tribute to their friend who died by protecting the tiny face they had created right next to the Flames logo.

The collaboration, strategizing and creating went on until Monday night when the subreddit officially closed.

"It was really interesting how it's just a silly little canvas on the internet but it led to a lot of really interesting conversations and friendships between these communities who would normally never speak," said Colin Ireland, a Calgarian and moderator for Calgary Flames subreddit.