Even if you live in Japan, unless you’re into manga-style illustrations you’ve probably never heard of Pixiv. The Japanese website was founded in 2007 as an online community of artists. Their user base grew briskly and just last month they surpasses 10 million users. To celebrate the milestone, the team initiated a community project, calling on their users to submit artwork to create a single mega-scale illustration.
Users could submit 1 piece per day over a 9-day period. The only stipulation was that the illustrations were to be in the shape of ema (絵馬): wooden plaques with pictures and wishes on them that are customarily hung at Shinto shrines. The final artwork would combine all the ema into a single massive ema.
On February 22, the illustrations began rolling in and by the end of the period the project had received an astounding 52,014 illustrations. The final work, a microcosmic portrayal of the community of artists, looks like a massive universe.
“pixiv currently gets on average 26K submissions per day,” writes* a staff member in a blog post explaining the project. “It’s difficult to actually get a sense for what 26K illustrations look like.” And so the team came up with a way to visualize their entire community of artists.