Black Rock City 2022: content and design showcase

We pack our things, head out into the desert, and will soon be entering Black Rock City – our minds are buzzing with excitement. We will ignore caution and explore our temporary city with eyes wide open. But there’s another side to Burning Man that, while beloved, generally remains a mystery. As you finalize your packing lists and camp plans for the year, I thought it would be great to explore some of the content and design projects we’ve created for all of you this year – a mix wholesome in creativity, education, inspiration, fantasy, and of course, just a bit of snark.

Let’s be 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 have your answers.

Here’s how it works: every year we broadcast a public message call for applications (we received over 120 amazing designs from community members for 2022!). I then do some organizational magic (read: do a doc), and every Burning Man Project staff member year-round gets a chance to offer their own thoughts. A small team then narrows down the submissions to around 10 or 20 selected designs to print and offer to BRC citizens. The whole process takes over three months, and it’s definitely worth it.

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

Presentations presented 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 what where whenthe ShouldCouldaWoulda…call it what you will, but it’s still a fantastic read. The Greeters hand you this guide to city-wide events on the playa when you enter the BRC. Many citizens will use it to plan their week, hour by hour. Others take a quick look at it, then throw it in their tent, to read it once they get back to where they came from. Plan your burn, burn your plan, amirite?

This year we are trying something new. For the first time ever, we’ve organized event listings by category. We’ve also expanded the number of categories from seven to 21 different activity types – choose events from Arts/Crafts/Crafting, Care/Support, Class/Workshop, Coffee/Tea, Fire/Show, Food, Games, Gathering/ Party, Healing/Massage/Spa, Kid Friendly, LGBTQIA2S+, Live Music, Mature Audience, Meditation/Movement/Yoga, Parade, Performance, Radical Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (RIDE), Ritual/Ceremony, Reparation, Sustainability/Greening your burn, or Other (joker!). Search any of the category pages by time and day to find an event or activity that speaks to you, or pull the guidebook out of your back pocket when you find yourself in one of the amazing, but perhaps unfamiliar, neighborhoods , of Black Rock City .

Also, if you don’t read the entire what where when book the first night, don’t worry! We’ve got a whole new set of pages called the Insider’s Guide – a curated collection of camps to visit and events to attend, covering a myriad of topics and interests. You’ll also find tips for everyday life in Black Rock City, locations for useful services, and even a scavenger hunt. Because why not?

I personally had the honor of designing the Insiders Guide 2022 in addition to the cover of the what where when himself; it was great to co-create with my fellow comms team member, Kirsten aka kbot. After a bit of design, we landed on a design direction that pays homage to Burning Man’s underground roots and was visually inspired by the Cacophony Societythe newsletter, “​​Disorganized– a zine they published from 1987 to 2001. I sprinkled gasoline on ’80s punk rock posters and boom! The Insiders Guide was born. Curious? Here’s a preview of the cover:

Cover of ‘WhatWhereWhen’ 2022 (design by Deets Shay with collaboration on artwork for “Tank Girl” by Gianna Spangler)

Pssst… do you even want MOAR events? The online directory Playa Events Calendar lists every BRC 2022 event submitted (not all of them are in the printed guide) and lets you create your own what where when, listing only your favorite events. Try it!

But wait, there’s more!

Not all of our content is printed. In addition to design projects like the ones mentioned above, I also manage Burning Man Project’s social media channels. For nearly two years, we’ve been experimenting with all kinds of new content, some educational, some humorous, some nostalgic. We emphasized more mutant vehiclesmore campsthat the community is up to the task, and heck, we even write limericks:

Head over to Instagram for stories which offer useful reminders and a new Guide what life in the desert is like:

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

Want a bit of nostalgia? Discover our Night Day photo album on Facebook that reflects the importance of immediacy in our beautiful ephemeral city:

“Mazu Goddess of the Empty Sea” by 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? Don’t miss our new series of ever-relevant illustrations and information from the 2007 and 2008 tip sheets:

Illustrations from the 2007 BRC tip sheet (Designs by Deets Shay)

Alright, I think that’s enough for now. I hope you enjoyed this random selection of recent designs – I know I enjoyed being a part of creating it. And I can’t wait to go to the playa this year; I’m gonna roam the city for a few weeks, visit camps, experience art and find even more stories to tell. If you see me, say hello! But don’t worry, I’ll ask for consent before taking your photo. Meet in dust!

PS Would you like your photo to be broadcast on our social networks? Use #mercilarry on Instagram, and I might just ask your permission to do so.


Cover image: sticker design by Gianna Spangler, 2022

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