AFTERBURN REPORT 2005
Again in 2005, the Print Production team enjoyed an incredible year. Sadly, we lost the direct involvement of one of our major team players, who moved on to bigger adventures and a degree in higher education. This shift in management, in addition to working with some new designers, gave the printed publications a new look and fresh feel.
Our projects have not changed much over the years, but the timelines and work processes have. Our projects for 2005 included: the Burning Man ticket, ticket mailer, thank you card for volunteers and staff, Survival Guide, Burning Man Journal summer newsletter, stickers, the 2005 Census forms, and the WhatWhereWhen event listing.
Managing so many projects throughout the year is a challenging task. The implementation of a master timeline that incorporated all printed publications for Burning Man was a huge help in making sure important deadlines were met, as other projects competed for attention.
For the first time in many years, the Burning Man Journal came out in late spring (as opposed to late summer). The early mailing made it a more effective tool for communicating with participants and a useful information source for people interested in attending Burning Man 2005. This communication opportunity has a direct impact on how participants learn about Leave No Trace, porta potties, the theme, and the art planned to accompany it on playa, as well as the Black Rock Arts Foundation.
Work started on the 2005 Survival Guide in February to allow as much time as possible to gather information, gain feedback from all departments involved, and complete a leisurely production timeline while working with a new designer. The product is the most complete collection of information in the Survival Guide to date – and it looked HOT!
Not everything in the print world is easy, and the team faced a few challenges in 2005, including the pixilated image on the ticket mailer. We learned that consistent management for a project is key, and we must ALWAYS double, triple, and even quadruple check work. We also plan to keep the artists and designers involved until the very end of the printing process. While the mistake on the ticket mailer was an unfortunate mishap, it did prove to be an incredibly valuable lesson for the Print Production team. Another challenge we faced was that work on the WhatWhereWhen event listing happens in the last weeks before the event, and it continues on the playa. It is a time-consuming and difficult task to edit all events listed, get things organized, and make it all fit in the allotted page count in the intense rush to get to the playa.
And generally speaking, it’s a challenge to open up our process to new designers, but the rewards for participants are high, and it’s great to get fresh talent into our mix, keeping our publications new and interesting.
The 2005 stickers were a joy to print. The sheer number of submissions from inspired artists and designers was exciting, and evaluators struggled to narrow down the possibilities and select which ones to print. A wonderfully diverse batch of goodies resulted that were appreciated by all who saw them. We shook things up a bit and printed a solid sticker in place of a window sticker to be passed out with the materials received by participants at the Gate. This was a tough decision, but we loved the design, and it was suited to the solid format.
Over the spring and summer of 2005, the Burning Man Project produced the third incarnation of the Burning Man wall calendar. It seems that the calendar has evolved from its start as an experiment into an exciting annual project, especially for the 2005-2006 calendar. The 2005 event commemorated the twentieth burning of the Man. The calendar team is eager to mix up the content each year, so the calendar was designated as a way to celebrate and reflect on this important and impressive milestone.
A timeline of Burn History was created that spanned the 12 months of the calendar. It was no easy task to create a definitive version of the history of Burning Man. Researchers hunted through individual and Project archives, photos, books, media publications, and some very colorful and enlightening interviews. The information was all here somewhere… in the collective brain of this amazing organization.
The timeline began with a few mentions of historical fires (the Big Bang for example) and continued on with significant events, contributors, milestones, and less well-known facts throughout Burning Man history. The timeline was also dotted with history from the larger world, such as the fall of the Berlin wall, to give some context to what was going on elsewhere as Burning Man continued to evolve. Monthly spreads contained images, artifacts, illustrations, and graphics relating to the historical information presented in the timeline on each page. Traditional and some not so traditional holidays were included. In addition, each month gave a countdown until burn night in 2006.
Brainstorming began on the project in February 2005, and most of the rock star production team from the previous year returned, ensuring great cohesion from the start. The team set a goal to get the calendar out earlier than ever before, so no one would be killing themselves right before the event and to make the calendars available at the walk-up ticket outlets over the summer. The calendar was produced earlier than in previous years, but not as early as hoped. Some delays resulted from the same designer working on both the newsletter and calendar projects, so the latter waited while the newsletter finished production and mailed earlier than in previous years. Plus, key people always seem to be traveling or busy juggling event planning and many other competing priorities over the summer. The Print Production team will refocus on outlining timelines for all projects going forward. The most important priority is the dedication to doing whatever is necessary to produce a wonderful calendar that is ready for everyone to kick off the new burn year.
This dedication really paid off on the 2005-2006 calendar. The team built a beautiful and functional tool to help the community plan throughout the year. More importantly, the end result was a visually compelling historical and educational document. As a bonus, it included no quiz at the end.
Overall, 2005 was a milestone year for the Print Production team. It brought huge advances in effectively producing the Project’s publications, along with some incredibly valuable lessons that will carry forward to preparations for 2006.
Bex Workman and Heather Gallagher