Collaborative Artmaking App Crowd-Sources Creativity in Fight Against Isolation

EQ App Header

By Emily Carr University

Posted on April 24, 2020 | Updated April 24, 2020, 9:59AM

The EQ app, which is currently seeking participants for its beta launch, allows users to connect with others all over the world to produce "magical" collaborative works.

A new collaborative artmaking app from the Mobil Art School team has been green-lighted for an initial launch, in the hopes of creating connection and encouraging creativity during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Created in part with the help of Emily Carr University faculty and students, the interactive EQ mobile app was inspired by the Surrealist pen-and-paper drawing game “exquisite corpse.” That game involved folding a piece of paper into three parts. Then, each participant would draw part of a body only they could see, connecting it to the drawings of their fellow participants via tentative marks from the other sides of the fold.

“I imagine that when the Surrealists invented exquisite corpse, they were a group of friends sitting around a table who wanted to create magic — something beyond their individual selves — that nevertheless connected them deeply,” Mohamed Somani, Co-Founder of Mobil Art School, says, adding the EQ app amplifies the creative “magic” of the Surrealist game’s “chance encounters” to global proportions.

“What technology offers us is remarkable — as an app, we can expand that table where friends once sat around to now be the world. And we can do this while deepening and expanding the magical possibilities of the original game by breaking the physical boundaries of paper, dimensions, tools, and geography.”

EQ the game - how it works

EQ encourages a collaborative creative experience by allowing users to “crowd-source” patchwork digital artwork from fellow users around the world. Through drawing, images and writing, players can create and share their creations with anyone they choose — an intimate group of friends or a random player.

And now, Mobil is looking for ECU Community members to join in the beta-testing version of the game. The beta version is free to play and only requires a username and email address to sign up.

Mohamed notes how connectivity has become something of a lifeline as people all over the world struggle to deal with a new reality of isolation and physical distancing.

“This opportunity to connect people creatively is what made us push for an early release of EQ” he says. “Artists across all walks are innovating during the pandemic and we're no different. We want EQ to help people create, collaborate, and connect during difficult and lonely times.”

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From Mohamed’s perspective, creativity is both “empowering” and “an antidote to the prevailing sense of fear” that often looms over an increasingly complicated modern existence — and has been amplified by the pandemic. He notes that Mobil Art School has always aimed to help channel individual creativity toward greater collaboration and social connection.

“Back when we offered in-person classes, we did this through games and play,” he says. “Now, we're doing the same through creative technology. With EQ, everyone's welcome to play and create.”

The beta version of EQ is currently only available to iOS operating systems (although the team is working hard to expand access to the app and to add groups of players in phases over the coming weeks).

The front-end of the app was designed throughout a research project led by Living Labs and funded by The National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program.

Between November 2019 and March 2020, Masters of Design students April Nguyen and Thejus Kayanadath worked on the project under the guidance of Faculty Lead Julia Conejero.

To provide feedback on your experience to the Mobil Art School team or for any other queries, you can e-mail