Balsa Man is Back!

September 22nd, 2019 by Colin
Watching the Balsa Man burn 2008 (photo by Orin)

I, more than anyone, is surprised to be bringing Balsa Man back. The first Balsa Man in 2008 was done nearly on a whim, but I knew I had to do it again after seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces in the meager light of the burning balsa.

After five solidly amazing years, in 2013, I made the final decision to not host another Balsa Man event and close down the Balsa Man Org office. I’d like to say it was a hard decision to make but it really wasn’t. I had done all I had set out to do creatively with the event and more so. Popularity in it had grown and I would have had to make some drastic changes in order for it to continue. The creative spirit of Balsa Man was by that point fully infused in the world and I thought it was better to let it go — either to mutate or fade into pleasant memory.

I’ve gone on and done numerous other amazing art projects that I’m proud of in the past few years. Still I have thought about Balsa Man often. As have others, judging by how many people have said they would love to Balsa Man rise again. That’s why when I got a call this past Spring from the Oakland Museum of California, I immediately knew it was time — time to bring my cutting boards and X-Acto knives out of storage!

Looking forward to see all you bitty balsa burners in Balsa Man 2020!

Colin Fahrion
Founder of Balsa Man

Goodbye and thanks for all the inspiration!

April 7th, 2013 by Colin

Colin, the Balsa Man Founder and the Balsa Man 2008 (photo by Edrabbit)

Colin, the Balsa Man Founder and the Balsa Man 2008 (photo by Edrabbit)

Dear tiny participants,

When I started this art project so many years ago, it was little more than a minor inspiration. I had originally just planned to burn the lil’ guy myself but others soon asked if they could come and add something to the event. I’m thankful of all who jumped in an participated from the marvelous temple of Reduced Expectations by J-Rad to the balsa phoenix, the pink buddhas, diminutive dance dance immolation!

Before the first Balsa Man event was over, I already knew I had to do it again. The passion and joy on the faces of the literally dozens of participants inspired me to take concept further the next year — Balsa Man was ripe with creative ore.

In all these years, I never did the event just to do it. I always endeavored to find a new creative reason — a new idea, a new challenge. Many times these ideas came from the participants themselves and other times they were ideas that came to me in a fit of joy and laughter. This continued year after year as I was inspired by all that came before and new creative twists were added to the event.

Balsa Man's tour of Black Rock Desert 2012

Balsa Man’s tour of Black Rock Desert 2012

This year is different. This year my inspiration is the wisdom that one has to know when to let things go. In many ways, this past year was a wonderful year to end on: I was able to go out to the desert to host the Black Rock Regional myself. We finally moved the event from Baker Beach where was it’s home for years to a wonderful enchanting beach north of San Francisco. Due to the added distance, the attendance dropped drastically from several hundred participants to a number much closer to the attendance our first year. In a sense, it was an ouroboros return to the beginning.

This is the reason behind this year’s Balsa Man theme “Flotsam & Jetsam” — I am jettisoning Balsa Man into the sea of subconscious so that I can travel lighter, sailing my craft onward to new creative waters!

Again, I thank each and every one of you: all of the tiny artists, all of the donors, the Balsa Man KCrew, the DTW, the Balsa Man org staff, the BPAF tiny arts grant committee and their incompetent hot pants interns*, everyone who offered encouragement, and all who helped in whatever small way they could.

Fair winds and following seas,
Colin Arbuthnot Fahrion

*some or all of the Balsa Man and BPAF staff may or may not have existed.

Balsa 3 Card Monte Ticketing Event, Tues 21st

August 16th, 2012 by Colin

If you missed last weekend’s Balsa Bingo event, then you missed out on a lot of fun and a chance to win your ticket to Balsa Man! The good news is that we are having another ticketing event!

Balsa 3 Card Monte

Tuesday 21st, 6pm–9pm

The Sycamore, 2140 Mission (between 17th & 18th)

10¢ to play. Every contestant gets a chance to win!

Balsa Man Stickers, Patches, and dice are also available for purchase. All proceeds go to supporting Tiny Art!

Balsa Man Founder Heads to The Desert

August 16th, 2012 by Colin

The Black Rock Balsa Regional is the longest running Balsa Man regional event. For the past 3 years, an seasoned desert camper has lead the Regional as a small bit of entertainment for other (likely bored) desert campers out in the Black Rock Desert.

Colin at Balsa Man 2008 - photo by romzelino

Colin at Balsa Man 2008 – photo by romzelino

This year, the Balsa Man founder, Colin Fahrion, has decided to head to the desert to see for himself what it’s all about and to lead the Black Rock Regional himself. He will be traveling to the desert on Sunday and staying a few days to check it out before heading back to San Francisco for the Balsa Man main event.

The regional will be held this year at Phage (5:00 and Esplanade) on Wednesday at 5pm. Please bring your tiny art and celebrate with other tiny revelers on the small scale! Phage will also be hosting a Tiny Art Build party at 2pm prior to the regional for those of you who have yet to make any tiny art.

Black Rock Balsa Regional

Wednesday, August 29th

Phage (5:00 and Esplanade)

2pm — Tiny Art Build Party
Come build tiny art for the burn! Supplies available!

5pm — Balsa Regional Burn
Arrive on time because balsa burns fast!

Facebook event page


On a side note, Tuesday Aug 28th is Colin’s birthday so you if you are one of those crazy desert camper’s say wish him a happy one! Who knows he may even give you a Balsa Man sticker or even a ticket to Balsa Man!

Balsa Bingo, Aug 11th

August 1st, 2012 by Colin

It’s the first ever Balsa Man Bingo! Don’t have a ticket to this year’s Balsa Man? What to get on the special location announcement list. This is your chance!

Due to the new ticketing rules, only ticket holders get on the location announcement list; if you do not yet have a ticket, you must either be an artist and submit an art grant or come to one of the Ticket Casino Events. The Balsa Bingo Event is the first such event (others are TBD). For more read our Updated Ticket & Location Announcement Policy.

Balsa Bingo

Music! Snarky Bingo Announcers! Photo and art gallery from past Balsa Man! The band Ghost Town Gospel! Did I mention bingo?!?

August 11th, noon to 5pm

Chez Poulet,  3359 Cesar Chavez


  • Doors at noon; first game at 12:30
  • 3pm musical intermission with the fabulous band Ghost Town Gospel
  • Ends at 5pm

Door charge $2 or more sliding scale*

*$2 gets you in the door, 1 bingo card and one sticker or die of your choice. More $ gets you more bingo cards, Balsa Man patches, stickers, and dice.

PLEASE RSVP on Facebook if you are coming as we would like to get an idea of how many bingo cards we will need.


  • Is this Balsa Man Bingo a real event? … YES!
  • I mean really you’ve never done one before and it sounds ridiculous? … I know right, but YES IT IS A REAL EVENT!
  • Why should I come? Will it be fun? … YES! What better way to support tiny art than to play bingo on a Saturday afternoon!
  • Can I join even I show up late? Yes you can join or leave any time as there will be several games throughout the day.
  • What do I win? you win two Balsa Man tickets and your name on the special location announcement list.

Balsa Bingo Rules

  • Each game is played until someone gets 5 in a row.
  • First person to yell BALSA! wins (as long as it is a valid win)
  • Winner gets two tickets to Basla Man and their name on the location announcement list.
  • The winning card can no longer be used in future games, though the winner can continue to play with other cards.
  • New game begins as soon as winner claims their prize and sits down or decides they are done playing.
  • People can join or leave games whenever they want.

Ticket Design for 2012!

Balsa Man Ticket 2012

Updated Ticket & Location Announcement Policy

August 1st, 2012 by Colin

We have received a lot of feedback over this year’s randomized ticketing policy. First most, we want to say we hear you and understand that the new rules are confusing and we are sorry that this has been a hardship on the Balsa Man community. The Balsa Man higher ups have had numerous meetings over the past couple months trying to figure out a way to make this work for everyone — from the tiny artists that make Balsa Man the wonderful creative place it is to the puny theme camps that fill it with vibrant community to the little new faces who bring fresh energy to Balsa Man.

We know the new revised rules won’t make everyone happy but we have every confidence that even though it is tiny the Balsa Man community is strong enough to come together and heal the small rifts of these trying times.

Revised Rules for Ticketing

  • As of today August 1st, new online donors no longer receive tickets as part of their donation (all donors prior to Aug 1st will still receive their tickets as promised).
  • Artists who receive art grants receive a ticket (additional tickets can be requested for large tiny art projects). Please submit for an art grant today!
  • Dept of Tiny Works, and other Balsa Man volunteers receive a ticket.
  • Any other people that the Balsa Man Org deems important to the event receive a ticket.
  • Everyone else who wants a ticket must play to win at the upcoming Balsa Bingo event (Saturday 11th) or at another TBD Balsa Man Ticket Casino Event.

Location Announcement Policy

  • Due to certain troubles at last year’s Balsa Man, the location will no longer be announced on the main Balsa Man tiny mail list.
  • You must be a ticket holder to get on the location announcement email list.