CHIRP Radio Presents: The First Time

The First Time Logo

I’ve been working with CHIRP Radio for years, from their start as an advocacy group, to the launch of their online streaming station, the success of their yearly record fair and having seen them get approved for their broadcast license. However, my personal favorite amongst the work I’ve done with them was the work I did for their quarterly storytelling series, The First Time.

Each event consists of a set of speakers, each telling a story around a theme of their first something (kiss, job, car, etc.). In between each speaker, the First Time house band performs a cover song that relates to the story just told. The events are funny. They’re touching. They’re personal. They’re social. In building the identity for the events, I tapped into those feelings that attendees experience.

For me, woodtype is amongst the most personal and touching of design vehicles. It’s hand set by a printer that works with the medium out of love. Computers are quicker, offset printing is cheaper and metal plates are more precise, but woodtype has a built in charm that none of those carry. Imperfections remain with specific letters thorughout the years, and the rings of the trees give history to each block that doesn’t exist in the vector points of digital type. This served as the inspiration for the event’s identity.

Poster, Program Cover and Postcard for the April 2012 First Time event
The poster, program cover and postcard for the April 2012 First Time event

The posters, postcards and programs are digitally set, and combined with true wood textures. This makes it easy to maintain and update the materials quarterly. The content, however, is set in each layout the same way a printmaker would: letter by letter, stacking each into the space like a game of Tetris with no gaps.

When it came time to design the website for the events, we used the same inspiration, but started from scratch, fitting the elements into a responsive framework that is more than just a poster in the browser. It’s made of textures and letterforms that seem as if they were pressed directly into this flexible page.

The First Time Website on a wide screen
The First Time Website on a tablet
The First Time Website on a phone

If you haven’t yet been to an event I can’t encourage you strongly enough to change that. I only hope the work I’ve created does your experience there justice.


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Surprise Highway