Why Burning Man Matters to Me – And Why It Should Matter to Brands

The Burning Man festival takes place in the desolate Black Rock Desert in Nevada every year. This year, over 75,000 people attended. The temporary city is built, enjoyed, and taken down in a short two-week period. While most people think of Burning Man as just a giant party, to me (and a lot of others) it’s so much more. As an artist and a creative director at BeCore, being inspired is fundamental to being able to create new, fresh work, for myself and for clients.

Over the years I have seen projects first built at Burning Man that prove so popular they go on to other festivals, create ripples through the art world, and even inspire brand activations with huge ROI. So, while some people might go for the party, I go for the ideas, the inspiration, and the complete freedom of expression not found anywhere else. In 2017, alone there were over 340 registered art projects, and hundreds more unregistered. There is no other place on earth where you can experience so much creativity by so many people in a single location.

Past Burning Man Art Trends

Pulse Portal, 2016

pulse portal burning man

Photo by: Scott Sporleder

The Pulse Portal is a great example the artistic arch that has started popping up at festivals large and small. Guests love the perfect photo op moment created by these arches.

Big Words, 2014+

Photo by: Jonathan Goody

Back in 2014, artist Laura Kimpton started the giant word trend at Burning Man. Now you’ll see large words all over the place, they draw selfie takers from near and far.

Balloon Chain, 2012+

Photo by: Wolfram Burner

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most impactful. This balloon chain is low cost and easy to make, and because of that you’ll now find these beautiful pieces at nearly all public festivals you attend.

Big Rig Jig, 2007

Photo by: Mike Ross.

In 2007, this piece cause quite a stir. Now, it’s much more common to see giant cars twisted into impressive installations, but back then, everyone had their mind blown.

Sonic Runway, 03/04 first and then updated more recently

Photo by: Scott R. Kline

There have been a few iterations of the sonic runway, starting with the first back in 2003. Over the years it has been refined, but the simple concept has stayed the same and is still as impactful as the first time it appeared on playa. People go crazy for a path or a tunel they can move through and they really love interactive lights.

Shrumen Lumen, 2014+

Photo by: Rene Smith

The Lumen series of sculptures have traveled around the world, and you can see why. They’re absolutely delightful. While the technology is now commonplace, it’s still something people love and will travel to see.

The Super Pool, 2014

Photo by: Duncan Rawlinson

The Super Pool is another example of how simple interactive lighting elements can be a truly engaging experience for people. These Lilly pads drew huge crowds and have inspired countless other installations.

This year, I saw a continued focus on large scale light installations which, as always, prove some of the most popular experiences on the playa. I was also struck by several pieces of traveling art and was really inspired to start thinking of installations that are no longer tethered to a single footprint but can move with and respond to people in delightful ways. Check out the photos below to see this and other trends that inspired me this year.

2018 Burning Man Art Trends

Hexatron & Paraluna & RadiaLumia

Photo by: Lyla Morrison


Photo by: Lyla Morrison


Photo by: Lyla Morrison

Interactive Light Installation: every year these installations prove to be the biggest draws for crowds of people. The key to their popularity is not only that they light up but that they also respond to the sounds around them, taking concerts and DJ sets to another level.

Rainbow Bridge & “Night at the climb in”

Photo by: Lyla Morrison


Photo by: Lyla Morrison

Climbable Art: people love being allowed to climb on and interact with the art. And if there’s a spot at the top with a vantage point that’s perfect for a selfie, well that’s even better!

Orb & “In Every Lifetime I will Find You”

Photo by: Lyla Morrison


Photo by: Lyla Morrison

Reflection: A new trend I haven’t seen other places, but was in full force at Burning Man this year, is to create art that is super reflective. And the resulting selfies that are popping up thanks to that reflection are bringing even more attention to this type of installation.

Step Forward & Color Wheels & Moondancer

Photo by: Lyla Morrison


Photo by: Lyla Morrison


Photo by: Lyla Morrison

Moveable Art: There were several pieces or art (not even counting art cars!) that traveled around Burning Man, bringing excitement wherever they went. Creating art pieces that not only follow the crowd but also talk to and interact with it will be sure to be a hit at other festivals.

Baba Yaga’s House & Opening the Closet

Photo by: Lyla Morrison


Photo by: Lyla Morrison

Storytelling: Certainly not a new trend but it bears repeating here, storytelling is key to a great experience. While flashy LEDs might catch people’s attention, art pieces with a developed story really get people talking.

Feeling inspired? So am I! Give us a call to help you brainstorm your next festival engagement today.