Black Rock City 2022: Content and Design Showcase

We’re packing our things, heading to the desert, and will soon be entering Black Rock City — our minds buzzing with excitement. We’ll throw caution to the dust and explore our temporary city with eyes wide open. But there’s another side to Burning Man that, while appreciated, generally remains a mystery. So as you finalize your packing lists and camp plans for the year, I thought it would be nice to explore some of the content and design projects we’ve been creating for all of you this year — a healthy mix of creativity, education, inspiration, whimsy, and of course, just a little bit of snark.

Let’s Get Slap-happy

We stick them all over our gear, our skin, our friends… and everything in between. But where do the official BRC stickers come from each year, and who designs them? Well you’re in luck, my friends, because I’ve got your answers. 

Here’s how it works: each year we put out a public call for submissions (we received more than 120 amazing designs from community members for 2022!). I then do a little organizational magic (read: make a doc), and every year-round staff member at Burning Man Project has the opportunity to offer their own thoughts. A smaller team then narrows down the submissions to about 10 or 20 selected designs to print and gift to the citizens of BRC. The whole process takes over three months, and it’s so worth it.

Okay, so what about this year’s designs? Well, we’re not going to show them all, but here are just some of the stickers we’ve selected for print. Keep an eye out for these and more on playa; they’ll be scattered about the city all week long. And no, you won’t find the Gate sticker here, you’re gonna have to wait till you arrive for that one!

Featured submissions by the following designers: Gianna Spangler, Annette Jenab, Chandler Johnson, Harlan Riley, Jamen Percy, Ubin Li, Vinny Olimpio, Victoria Molyneaux, Jackie Han, and Wendy Pearson. 

What, Where, When, Who, Why, How

The WhatWhereWhen, the ShouldaCouldaWoulda…call it what you want, but it’s always a fantastic read. Greeters hand you this guide to city-wide events on the playa as you enter BRC. Many citizens will use it to plan out their week, hour by hour. Others give it a cursory look and then toss it in their tent, only to read it once they’re headed back from whence they came. Plan your Burn, burn your plan, amirite? 

This year we’re trying something new. For the first time ever, we organized event listings by category. We also expanded the number of categories from seven to 21 different types of activities — choose events within Arts/Crafts/Making, Care/Support, Class/Workshop, Coffee/Tea, Fire/Spectacle, Food, Games, Gathering/Party, Healing/Massage/Spa, Kid-friendly, LGBTQIA2S+, Live Music, Mature Audiences, Meditation/Movement/Yoga, Parade, Performance, Radical Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (RIDE), Ritual/Ceremony, Repair, Sustainability/Greening Your Burn, or Other (wildcard!). Search within any of the category pages by time and day to find an event or activity that speaks to YOU, or pull the guide out of your back pocket when you find yourself in one of the amazing, but perhaps unfamiliar, neighborhoods of Black Rock City. 

Additionally, if you don’t read the entire WhatWhereWhen book on the first night, never fear! We’re offering up an entirely new set of pages called the Insiders’ Guide — a curated set of camps to visit and events to participate in, spanning myriad topics and interests. You’ll also find advice for day-to-day life in Black Rock City, locations for helpful services, and even a scavenger hunt. Because why not?

I personally had the honor of designing the 2022 Insiders’ Guide in addition to the cover of the WhatWhereWhen itself; it was a blast to co-create with my fellow Communications team member, Kirsten aka kbot. After a bit of concepting, we landed on a design direction that pays homage to Burning Man’s underground roots and took visual inspiration from the Cacophony Society’s newsletter, “​​Rough Draft” — a zine they published from 1987 until 2001. I sprinkled in some essence of ‘80s punk rock posters and boom! The Insiders’ Guide was born. Curious? Here’s a sneak peek of the cover:

Cover of the 2022 ‘WhatWhereWhen’ (Design by Deets Shay featuring collaboration on illustration of “Tank Girl” by Gianna Spangler)

Pssst… want even MOAR events? The online directory Playa Events Calendar lists every single 2022 BRC event submitted (they don’t all make it into the print guide), and allows you to create your own personalized WhatWhereWhen, listing only your favorite events. Try it out!

But Wait, There’s More!

Not all our content comes in print. In addition to design projects like those mentioned above, I also manage Burning Man Project’s social media channels. For almost two years we’ve been experimenting with all sorts of new content — some educational, some humorous, some nostalgic. We’ve been highlighting more mutant vehicles, more camps, what the community is up to, and heck, we’re even writing limericks: 

 

Hop on over to Instagram for Stories that offer helpful reminders and a new Guide to what life is like in the desert: 

A handy BRC 2022 reminder on IG Stories (left), Black Rock City IG Guide (right)

Like a bit of nostalgia? Check out our Night & Day photo album on Facebook that reflects on how important Immediacy is in our beautiful, yet ephemeral, city: 

“Mazu Goddess of the Empty Sea” by The Department of Public Arts, 2015 (Photos in graphic by Brian Wahlberg; Design by Deets Shay)
“Mega Cake,” 2019 (Photos in graphic by Eleanor Preger and Juan P. Zapata; Design by Deets Shay)

How about a good throwback? Keep a lookout for our new series featuring illustrations and still-relevant information from the 2007 and 2008 Tip Sheets:

Illustrations from the 2007 BRC Tip Sheet (Designs by Deets Shay)

Okay, I think that’s enough for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed this random smattering of recent design — I know I’ve enjoyed being a part of its creation. And I can’t WAIT to get out to the playa this year; I’ll be roaming around the city for a couple of weeks, visiting camps, experiencing art, and finding even more stories to tell. If you see me, say hi! But don’t worry, I’ll ask for consent before taking your picture. See you in the dust!

P.S. Want your photo to be featured on our social channels? Use #thankslarry on Instagram, and I just might ask your permission to do just that. 


Cover image: sticker design by Gianna Spangler, 2022

About the author: Deets Shay

Deets Shay

Deets Shay is on Burning Man Project’s Communications team, overseeing social media content strategy and execution, in addition to leading print production projects. She attended her first Burn in 2012, when she quickly realized she identified with the culture, and has been going back almost every year since. Prior to joining Burning Man Project’s year-round staff, Deets volunteered for the Department of Mutant Vehicles, where she helped process Mutant Vehicle applications before the Burn, and approved vehicle licensing on playa. You can generally find her hanging out with her amazing wife Ginger Snap, their Corgi, Mini Waffles, and Shiba Inu, Jinkx.

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