2009 proved to be another action-filled year for print production. Once again our printed pieces served as an important vehicle for disseminating information far and wide, helping to keep people informed and, hopefully, entertained. Projects for the year included the Ticket Announcement, the Event Ticket, a gorgeous theme-related poster, the annual Survival Guide, a reformatted WhatWhereWhen guide, the map of BRC, myriad amusing stickers, a Playa Tip Sheet and Recycling rearview mirror hang tag, and another elegant and richly-designed wall calendar. This year we also had the variable of the office move thrown into the mix, which affected each and every one of these projects and their schedules. It was enough to keep us all on our toes.

Each year the Survival Guide presents its own unique challenges since it includes information from every Burning Man department. The volunteer Survival Guide designer did a wonderful job of presenting the year’s updated content, folding it into an evocative visual theme around the evolution of communication.

With the ever-increasing robustness of the Burning Blog, and the focus on belt-tightening, we opted to forego producing the printed Summer Newsletter again this year. As 2010 unfolds we will keep an eye on the other communication streams and evaluate the Newsletter again, to see if its narrative and philosophical functions are being adequately met in other ways.

The 2009-2010 Burning Man Wall Calendar is a thing of beauty. Inspired by the 2009 Evolution theme, and highlighting the expansion of Burning Man culture worldwide, the Calendar’s narrative focused on off-playa events, demonstrating how efforts like the Black Rock Arts Foundation, Black Rock Solar, Burners Without Borders, and the Regional Network are natural extensions of the Burning Man ethos.

The Calendar also embodied the year-round Burning Man experience. The layout of the Calendar was revisited, and the newly devised layout enabled us to more fully feature larger-scale images. This allowed for a brighter, richer story to be told. The redesign also provided an opportunity to showcase the works of as many photographers as possible, all the while accommodating having credits distributed throughout, alongside their respective images.

In contrast to the Calendar, the WhatWhereWhen is the encapsulated version of the very brief, on-playa experience. Building on 2008’s successful redesign of the annual event guide, we were inspired to take it a step further: by adjusting the format we were able to make a pocket-sized guide that could more easily be carried along during playa adventures. Possibly the coolest byproduct of the format change was that we were able to substantially increase the size of the centerfold art map, which also allowed us to include more information about each piece in the art index. Other than those enhancements, all of the information flow and design that worked so well from the previous year was put into service again, with great results.

While print pieces are inherently static once they are produced, our relationship with the role and function of print projects is not. As we go forward we continually evaluate the purpose of our communications and the best vehicles for those messages. As in 2008, we again benefited from a combination of experience and openness to learning and new ideas. In 2010 we will strive to continue honestly assessing our print communications and collaborating with new and returning players to keep things as fresh and relevant as possible.

Submitted by,
Rebecca Throne