Volunteer Opportunity: 2016 BRC Map and Guide Infographics Poster Designer

After many years of beautiful work, Lisa Hoffman, Burning Man’s volunteer BRC Map designer, is stepping down. This development allows for a new artist to show their skills, and offers an opportunity to rethink the traditional design. This role calls for nothing less than an infographics genius with attention to detail bordering on the obsessive, and someone who can demonstrate considerable talent and experience in illustration, design and print production.

Lisa’s Wisdom for New City Map Designers

The BRC Map has been amazingly intricate and diverse over the years. How did Lisa even do it? “Each year I tried to create something different,” Lisa says. “I always think it’s great when people are surprised that it has been the same person designing the BRC Map and Guide since 2001.”

For starters, she had major Burner experience under her belt. “1991 was my first year at Burning Man,” Lisa says. “I returned every year until 1995 when the City started to feel too big and out of control. That was the year many people I would soon become friends with started to go. By 2000 they had convinced me to come back. In 2001 I began designing the map.”

So intimate knowledge of Burning Man culture is a prerequisite. What about the creative process? Here’s how Lisa describes it:

I usually let the theme bounce around in my head a while before settling on a design direction. I feel that research and having time to marinate on ideas is the best way to get started. By May I would usually have the design narrowed down to one or two possibilities. In June the information I need from the Placement Team would start trickling in. By July everything needs to become final. The map goes to print the first week in August in order to be ready for the first volunteers on the playa at the end of the month.

A great example of Lisa’s ability to blend excellent infographics with an artistic interpretation of the theme is the 2010 map for Metropolis:


Lisa was granted official written permission from Transport for London to use the roundel inspired logo.

Up for the Challenge? Here’s What It Takes

Your vision/interpretation of the 2016 art theme

Here is where your artistry and genius comes in: please read through the full art theme “da Vinci’s Workshop” text before you start designing. Familiarize yourself with past map designs here. A successful BRC map designer is like a chameleon, changing stripes, producing distinctive visuals, exploring and exploiting tangential theories and philosophies, while at all costs avoiding obvious and trite representations of the art theme.

Your portfolio samples should demonstrate essential technical experience and skills

  • Vector graphics expertise as a power user: Adobe Illustrator
    with potential to incorporate Photoshop elements.
  • Very strong typography skills.
  • Prepress print interface management experience.
  • Press check experience.
  • Ability, comfort and capacity working under deadline (project timeline below).
  • In short: “executability”.

The map and guide essentials

  • 17 x 22” four-color process, printed on both sides, an edition of 80,000 pieces.
  • BRC street grid graphic includes villages and legend icons (redesign potential).
  • Callout enlargements of five city plazas (redesign potential).
  • Index of 800+ camps and their nearest intersection (redesign potential).
  • Map and Guide text listing city services locations and hours, and other useful info.

Collaboration is key

  • This project is based and must be executed in the San Francisco Bay Area (sorry).
  • Translate placed camp graphics and data from the placement team’s vector graphics mapping documentation and database export of map index.
  • Your artistic vision will shine through this piece, while also taking a little direction from Placement management, to work within the established parameters of the BRC map.
  • Work with our East Bay printer, including prepress management and press checks.

Project Timeline and Deliverables (Firm)

  1. May 30 – Presentation/approval of preliminary concepts and “sketches”.
  2. June 7 – Designer: refined visuals check-in #1.
    BRC: basic city plan (streets and plazas).
  3. June 15 – BRC: village names and borders, locations.
    Designer: refined visuals check-in #2.
  4. July 7 – BRC: Camp borders and index, final “map and guide” text.
  5. July 20 – BRC: revisions (post placement announce).
  6. July 24 – Color proofs: final proofreading and minor revisions.
  7. August 1 – Hi-Rez files delivered to printer.
  8. August 7–August 15 – Press checks, maps printed.
  9. August 17 – Maps shipped to BRC for collation with other acculturation materials.

IMPORTANT: If you cannot commit to this production timeline please do not pursue this project/role. Unfortunately there is no room for flexibility here, sorry!

Submission of Electronic Portfolio Samples

Please send web links to brcmap@burningman.org by May 15, 2016

Hard copy samples by May 15, 2016 to:

BRC Map att’n: Placement
Burning Man
660 Alabama Street
4th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94110

Interviews/Samples in San Francisco

If selected, please be available for interview, with printed samples, between the hours of 10 am and 5 pm M-F.

About the author: Burning Man Project

Burning Man Project

The official voice of the Burning Man organization, managed by Burning Man Project's Communications Team.

20 Comments on “Volunteer Opportunity: 2016 BRC Map and Guide Infographics Poster Designer

  • Will Chase says:

    Wow … hey, thank you Lisa for all your incredible work for so many years. The city maps were always one of my favorite parts of my Burning Man experience, and I was always surprised and delighted by what you created. They’re so great, I’ve kept one from each year I’ve attended in my personal archive.

    Again, THANK YOU!

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  • Lisa Hoffman says:

    Thanks guys. I look forward to watching the continued evolution.

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  • The Hun says:

    Pay artists. Pay a fair wage for services rendered. Such a disgrace that we should have to say this, to Burning Man, in 2016.

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    • Pixel says:

      I couldn’t agree more. Design is an art but it’s never been looked at as such from the Borg.

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    • Ambassador Joss says:

      I agree with the commenters that this is absurd. As a professional designer, I have bills to pay, food to buy, and expenses that go up every year. My life is finite, which makes my time immensely valuable. You could never afford me at the rate I’m worth, but even at heavily discounted rate, this is thousands of dollars of work. NO ONE should be asked to do this kind of detail oriented work without fair market compensation.
      Surely your Bay Area printer isn’t printing it for free… Just like the BLM and Pershing County aren’t letting you use the land for free.
      Pay your designers. And while your at it, pay Lisa Hoffman, who clearly deserves to be paid handsomely.

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  • anon says:

    Wow–hard to believe this is unpaid work. To all applicants: please read this link so you know what to do after you’re hired to bring a wage claim: http://www.dol.gov/general/topic/wages/minimumwage

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  • slavelabour says:

    really the fuck. this is a “real job” with accountability and deadlines and expecting them to work in your office while you all get paid and they “volunteer” their creative juice. ffs. take some of those millions and support an artist

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  • You know some people do this sort of thing for a living, and with all the deadlines and requirements you have it sure looks like you’re trying to get one of them for free.

    So is this where I post to get someone to design me blueprints for a building that can house 70,000 people for free? I mean it will be a “gift” to the community of condo dwellers who live there after they buy the rights to reside there.

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  • i come from the1997 burn. when it took a,big leap and so did i. i left in 2000 with a terrible taste in my mouth and a desperate feeling that it was all bull shit! yes, of course i came bach in 04 and stayed to 13. when again i said no thanks. way too many repeat performances and big (STUFF) so, i sincerely thank people that have comitted to part of the city. a thankless, endless job. one of the people i saw. i think in 2011 was DanMan not dan das man. Dan built the man for many years and was never really reckonized. As most worker weren’t. promarely because they were always so busy with their jobs. so, i hope. where ever Dan is in the world he will know alot of old burners still remember his very hard work.
    I’m still promoting burning man and believe in its creative power but like any big organization. with out integrity it don’t last long.
    i my self had a project in 97 that made goodmorning america and night line but never made it on the walls with all the other projects? Crimson sent me the tickets and the money and excepted my project? then,also sent me a thank you for cleaning up so well. it was the year off the playa and i spent an extra week collecting water bottles filling up my truck and taking them into Fernley. the playa was a mess and the area ajasent to the playa was atrocious. back then there were only a few of us that stayed behind. so, for every year after that too 2000 i spent atleast a week cleaning up. i tried to pay you back Nancy/ Crimson/Harley/Mariom/Will/who the fuck else for my time in a magical place.
    Skip Wagner/ Serpant oroject/1997

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  • discoball says:

    As a professional in the field of Geographic Information Systems, it bothers me that this job description doesn’t include any reference to actually knowing how to make a map. The average graphic designer (or infographic designer) had no knowledge of best practices in making a functional map. That is why year after year, we end up with maps missing useful information like a north arrow!

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  • EllusJayus says:

    I agree all artists and creators deserve to be fairly compensated for their time and efforts. However, what is fair to one person may be different for another, and it’s ultimately up to the provider of the service to decide. Perhaps for someone out there, this could be an exciting opportunity to create a gift for this community and that is enough, as it was for the person who did it before them. Their love for the burn and the people they serve, the opportunity to get involved and give something back with their particular expertise, can be the reward, if this is good enough for them, who is anyone to judge? Altruism, gifting, volunteerism….A lot of young people are forgetting there is something to be said for this. If this kind of work is too much for you to feel it is worth doing without getting paid, then don’t pursue it! The art work found on the playa is created with the same sense of love and giving, this map can be seen an extension of that ideal, and for someone, it may be very meaningful to do. I know I found meaning and value in working for free throughout my life. I have volunteered my time, money, creativity and talents for years for causes I believed in without receiving a cent. I was not and am not wealthy, but I do alright, I cannot complain. For much of the time I was doing this sort of “free” work, I was student, a starving artist, and a lost recent graduate facing student loan debt. Yes, finding paying work was a priority, but that did not stop me from using my free time to give when I could. I did it for several reasons, and did not regret any of them. I made connections when I was less experienced, offering some skills that could be used but needed polishing; I needed to learn; the knowledge and their support in my development was my compensation. The satisfying career I have now is I due to their recommendations and people I met through volunteerism. People show character through altruism, and it earns respect. I also did it because I could, because I cared about the projects, and because it was interesting to me. Networking, development, marketing, establishing your work has value when you are an unknown, and having love for the job or goals of the organization: these are reasons to “work” for free. I would caution people who criticize those who choose to give in this way; they have their reasons, and it’s not right to make them feel foolish for finding value where some others may not. I am not saying that creative works should go underappreciated or under-compensated, and artists absolutely deserve a living wage. But sometimes a person can decide whether they can afford the time and resources to do something they care about without a paycheck to motivate them, and that is ok- don’t make those givers feel foolish.
    Lisa, thank you for the may years of service you have provided with your gift of the BRC maps. “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
    ― Winston S. Churchill

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  • Brian Moran says:

    It’s one thing to ask for submissions of an 11×17 map design and choose from what you get; that’s a fun volunteer opportunity. It’s another thing to require someone with professional skills to adhere to a schedule of deadlines, collaborate and take direction from a team lead, and reside in the SF Bay area for a significant “project/role” and not offer to pay them.

    Creating a guide for an event spanning a large area and involving thousands of people is not a small or unimportant project. There is obviously funding available for other tasks Burning Man accomplishes, and the fact that this particular task was determined to be uncompensated is insulting to those of us who have the skills to do it. Good design is transparent, but that does not mean it is effortless. If you have a map that works really well, it is because someone worked really hard to design that information.

    Any work related to design has always garnered less respect and compensation than many other professional pursuits. The fact that there’s always someone out there willing to lend their skills for free drives this stigma. I would think Burning Man would choose to patronize the businesses of those with professional artistic skills rather than fish for freebies from underemployed professionals. I’m a professional cartographer who lives in the Bay Area and I would encourage others with such skills to NOT give away their expertise for this ridiculous request. Just because designing stuff looks fun and artsy doesn’t mean it should be done for free. Especially in the SF Bay Area.
    I suggest you have GreenInfo do this job; your $ will go to a worthy cause. FYI I am not associated with GreenInfo in any way.

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  • Jesus What Evs says:

    Interesting article AND COMMENTS

    I volunteered for a Burning Man Team many years ago and I guess I was doing a good job because the head of my team told me I should be getting paid (I hadn’t asked), and I started receiving a modest paycheck. I wonder if volunteer map designer Lisa Hoffman ever asked or was offered compensation.

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  • steve says:

    wow, what a workload! Probably at least 100 hours including meetings, Press-checks, organization, and high-level design work. Will the volunteer at the very least get 10 free tickets and parking passes?

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  • Dawn betz says:

    Ridiculous! With the MILLIONS that BM intakes, they could at least pay the damn map designer, for a map which every inhabitant of BRC usues some kind of compensation!

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  • Furious Bystander says:

    To clarify? a VOLUNTEER is a person pitching in to help an event happen, not accountable and usually a few shifts (40 hours is a next year free entry, 20 half price) ALL THIS WORK IS A CONTRACTED PROFESSIONAL THAT IS NOT ON THE BM KOOL-AID!

    A request for a flyer that is in the hands of SEVENTY THOUSAND of us and we CHERISH all week, put in frames, save as history-?
    when you literally REQUEST A PORTFOLIO ?
    That is a CONTRACTED POSITION . More technical and hugely under rated as a “hourly job”
    Is someone embezzling the bazillions you’ve made and make ? Have you forgotten what paying bills feels like ? Not knowing where the rent comes from ?
    first tickets and thousand dollar gold super special vip prices?
    You’ve tripled the god damn “car passes” cost and tripled how many sold, under the BS pretense that we need to help out Nevada roadways ( like we all weren’t carpooling like mad) and this money goes ? )
    Do you, really , do you guys even get the majority of us work and ARE NOT FILTHY rich? We work hard paycheck to paycheck . Your map isnt an honor, it’s a slap in the face AGAIN of greed for what ?
    oh, VOLUNTEER !! OOH!! LOOK AN OPPPPPORRRTUNNITY ! ? fuck you. every one of you.
    Can you grasp the way we are perceiving you now ?
    You put some solar panels up in a couple places and call it outreach , Burners without Bills to Border?
    Outreach I hear is artist doing a bunch of blow on the “awarded grants” (do not deny it, you KNOW it is true)
    You guys are teetering in this “Non-Profit” facade and are making me EMBARRASSED to brag on your dumb asses.
    If you help build a few hours, set up, break down, etc, it’s a VOLUNTEER
    All other is employment and you fucking know it
    Your Italy trips and constant sharing of lifestyles of the rich and blameless is getting old .
    Run this shit or give it up to ADULTS .
    I could cry I am so sick of how my pride is slipping into a bad taste I can not get out of my mouth for the nonsense thrown at us .
    To be able to use this Playa that most people that “work” are UNPAID ? wow .
    You SUCK . ,
    I’m writing the media and I mean NY and SF Times.
    Fucking Non Profit my ass .

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  • As a map publisher for 19 years, who has published millions of commercial maps, I was excited to hear of this opportunity, as I see many ways to improve on the BM mapping and guide materials. But, like many others have commented, the amount of work required, and tight deadlines, without any compensation is daunting. I’m the MD of Groovy Map Co, and we produced award-winning maps for over 20 cities in Asia, but I cannot imagine 1 person doing this job and coordinating the field guide of 2000 listings within 30 days. Credit to Lisa for an extraordinary undertaking. You’re awesome!
    p.s. I have lots of suggestions to improve the mapping and directional signage, but I suppose the job is done … or delayed.

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