A lasting impression of Burning Man


An unfinished version of Crystelle Ryfe's Burning Man-inspired tattoo.
An unfinished version of Crystelle Rife’s Burning Man-inspired tattoo. / Photo by Sam Piscopo

For those who have a hard time understanding the appeal of Burning Man, listening to the stories of its attendees—otherwise known as “Burners”—may spark an interest in the beloved event. Reno resident Crystelle Rife is a first-time Burner, having recently returned from the the weeklong celebration of eccentricity in Black Rock Desert, Nev. The experience had such a profound effect on her that she is taking measures to distill the festival’s lasting impression into a lasting piece of art: a tattoo.

Crystelle Rife trying hard to think about something other than the pain. / Photo by Sam Piscopo

To the many who haven’t yet stepped foot near Burning Man—or choose not to—there is much about the celebration to comprehend, like why exactly people spend hundreds of dollars to ride bicycles in a desert. However, Rife, an University of Nevada, Reno alum, said the festival offers much more than that, such as being a part of a loving, caring environment without thoughts of “everyday, mundane” activities.

“After Burning Man, I learned the principles of beauty, unconditional love, acceptance and self appreciation,” said Rife.

She added that she has always been on a path of spiritual enlightenment, and attending Burning Man was a way to continue that journey while also exploring what America’s largest arts festival had to offer.

When she returned from the 2013 Burning Man, Rife said her ideas of beauty and life expanded and were clarified, adding that the experience was “life changing, to say the least”. To remember it, along with other personal stories from previous life events, Rife decided to get a tattoo that reads: “Stay Beautiful”—the ‘Y’ is replaced with the Burning Man logo.

“After Burning Man, I learned [certain] principles of beauty,” Rife said. “And ‘Stay Beautiful’ is just that reminder to remember you’re beautiful and to share that beauty with the world.”