New year, new calendar.
Summer is over, the school year is on, and we’re at the beginning of the Jewish new year. Fall feels like a fresh start to me, more than January 1st. Burning Man agrees – the annual calendar we design is burn-to-burn – Sept to August. Over at the semi-secret Burning Man marketplace they describe it like this:
The official Burning Man calendar tells the year-round, worldwide story of Burning Man in the world through photography. All sales support the worldwide work of the nonprofit Burning Man Project.
This calendar was available at No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man, a retrospective at the Smithsonian’s Renwick gallery – the only merchandise represented in the gift shop from the BMORG. The words Burning Man and Merchandise are oxymorons and an understandably touchy subject from a culture that proudly reveres decommodification. If you’re curious why the calendar is the exception to the rule, check out Can You Learn About Culture in a Gift Shop? on the Burning Man blog.
My 14th calendar for Burning Man uses photos that span the history of the event chronologically. The design attempts to capture the broad range of people, art and experiences of Black Rock City – an impossible task, but we get to try again next year. You can find it here.
The calendar starts at the beginning of Burning Man history with the first burns at Baker Beach from 1986 to 1989 (see above).
A modular layout, switching photos, calendar position and palette creates a dynamic experience flipping through the calendar. We’ve always included international holidays and astrological occurrences in the calendar grid, and starting in recent years we also included photos of year-round regional events and art pieces from Burning Man, off playa and around the world.
It’s amazing to see the artwork and the event grow and evolve, and the photography style and quality improve year by year; this is why we returned to a semi-chronological approach for the first time since 2005.
Curious about the secret history of the Burning Man calendar? Here’s a post from a few months back that tells my version of the story.
I love shooting photos at Burning Man. Seeing the quality and the professionals’ approach to capturing the event is one of the many things that keeps me coming back every year – to continue to chase the coattails of the pros and try to capture the spectacularly unexplainable. My photos from the event (since 2010) live on flickr; last year’s are here.
The calendar is distributed to bigwigs and politicians on and off the playa to engage, inspire and educate. This year the calendar was given out at the United States Conference of Mayors. Afterward, a dozen inspired mayors came to Burning Man 2018 for the first time to discuss civic engagement. This project proves the power of design; distilling an ephemeral event into something that lasts forever. Good design can translate experiences into stories, change opinions, represent a shared experience, and capture memories onto pages that people treasure.