The printed materials created for Burning Man are the physical manifestations of the print production team’s collaboration and cooperation. Our work begins soon after we have returned home, dusted off, and put the instant noodles away until next year. Once we have cleaned up from the Decompression Party here in San Francisco, we turn to content, design, and ringmaster duties—the three things we are most familiar with as members of the print production team.

We saw more original artwork and design work this year than we ever have before. We overcame time and space constraints that we thought were otherwise insurmountable without a time machine. We introduced new content and new contributors, and we created pleasing collaborations in the process. Our year was made even easier with the help of a new team member who shepherded several of the print projects from bid to blue line to mailing.

For the second year, a Burning Man volunteer designed the art on the ticket. We posted a request for design submissions for the ticket and ticket postcard to the Burning Man volunteer announcement list, and we were inundated with an array of beautiful, weird, and freakish art from participants across the United States. We did not allow enough time for review of submissions and the entire timeline was compressed. Ultimately, we chose designs from one designer for both the ticket and the postcard. Each piece had individual charm, but because they were unmistakably born of the same creative fount, they were also beautiful, aesthetic companions. In the fall of 2003 we started the process earlier and we worked with designers both of whom had previously created designs for Burning Man. This was helpful in the revision process.

The thank-you card is Burning Man’s version of a holiday card, which we print at the end of the year for our volunteers, vendors, and contacts outside of our community (such as politicians). We keep the cards on hand throughout the year and send them out as a quick personal thank-you when the occasion arises. The layout, which was created by a new designer, invoked a warmth and sentimentality that resonated with our spirit of gratitude. The image used on the front captured David Best’s Temple of Joy, the Man, and Russell Wilcox’s laser striking through the axis of the city. It was a visual testament to the magic and beauty of the night on the playa, paying tribute to outstanding art of 2002.

For 2003, the Survival Guide underwent a massive facelift. This year, we have experienced unprecedented efficiency in the content review process by the senior staff, starting the whole project off right.

The guide represents a special challenge as it contains a lot of critical information that is, typically, the same every year. There was, however, new information for 2003 that we wanted everyone to review. For this reason, we recognized that one way to encourage experienced participants to read the new information was to keep the guide visually fresh and stimulating. The returning designer injected new flavor by creating a more user-friendly layout. The visual style was changed dramatically via font, color, and format. The most exciting new feature was the myriad of original illustrations created specifically for the guide. We also shifted content this year to help maintain the reader’s attention and to reemphasize items of special interest, such as the Port-a-Potties.

We were late in producing the Survival Guide due to other priorities on the Project. This year we will start the review process much earlier in the spring. We aim to send the Survival Guide out in May. Feedback from staff indicates information may need to move around in the document again in 2004.

The 2003 Newsletter, Burning Man Journal, underwent its annual aesthetic makeover as well as a redirection in content. We had a variety of stories by a slew of new contributors, with pieces on Regionals, Burning Man in the art press, and theft on the playa as well as a philosophically oriented piece on self-realization. Our writers included Larry Harvey, two regional representatives, a theme camp organizer, an academician, a media team member, two rangers and the Burning Man site manager. In the area of design, the masthead was placed in a more prominent location at the very top of the front page, and the thumbnails were aligned to the far right of the page. The renewed front-page imprint created a streamlined and clean presentation that was carried throughout the newsletter. We used a number of vibrant and stunning images from several photographers that represented some of the most stimulating art pieces from 2002. Producing the newsletter is probably our most challenging and time-consuming process, and the 2003 Newsletter proved to be more of the same. Due to other priorities on the Project some articles were written late causing the Newsletter to be extremely late in getting into the mail and therefore reducing its effectiveness as a public communication tool. In 2004 we will start the production of the Newsletter much earlier by selecting writers before spring arrives.

The Gate Materials are the packets that are handed out at the Greeter’s Station as participants arrive at Black Rock City. The 2003 rendition included a map of Black Rock City, the Gate Edition of the Black Rock Gazette, a window sticker, a census form, and the What Where When (a schedule of events). In the past, we have also included a sheet about Exodus. This year we opted to not include it, and Exodus still went very well.

This project has contributions from more groups than any print production we do during the year. From theme camps that are publicizing their activities to the theme camp placement team to the contributors of the Gate Edition of the Black Rock Gazette, the collective effort is apparent. This year, a different vendor printed each piece. We coordinated shipment from San Francisco, Tahoe, Reno, and Portland to the gates of the city. The pieces were collected on what was affectionately called the Collation Station, where 32,000 packets were put together in a record 3 days. Unfortunately, we ran out of maps again. We will avoid running out in 2004 by making more realistic population estimates.

This piece was our favorite project in the 2003 print cycle. In a post to the Jack Rabbit Speaks Internet newsletter, we asked designers to submit artwork for stickers that are given out to volunteers on the playa. The response was overwhelming. We received so many wonderful designs that we had a very difficult time deciding which to choose. At the last moment, a generous soul e-mailed us after seeing a Jack Rabbit Post and made an incredible printing offer. As a result, we were able to print an unprecedented number of designs, an assortment that offered aesthetic pleasures to an array of tastes.

We look forward to the opportunities and challenges that await us in the upcoming year. With the experience and lessons of yet another year under our collective belt, we anticipate an even smoother year for the print production team.

Submitted by,
Jess Bobier, aka the Nurse