First Hand — Printing your own newspaper: A guide from Newspaper Club and illustrator Sam Rowe

Posted 17 May 2018

As we've learned from printing our own newspaper, in an increasingly digital age, a tactile touch still holds true. As more and more work gets posted online, newsprint can be a versatile and accessible medium to showcase your work. We spoke to Newspaper Club about how to get started on producing your own newspaper. In this handy guide, they explain what they think makes for a smooth process and share some of their favourite examples. Plus, illustrator Sam Rowe talks us through some of the design choices involved in the making of his own newspaper, including the addition of a charming preliminary sketch depicting his plans for the newsprint.

Aim for the unexpected
Newsprint is a tactile, accessible material that’s easy to share, but also comes with a sense of heritage and authority. Most people have an idea of what a newspaper ‘should’ look like, so you have an opportunity to play with the format and make something unexpected. It’s very versatile – there’s lots you can do with those big tabloid and broadsheet pages. Plus, our print runs start at one copy, so you can always start small if you prefer.

Simple and bold artwork works really well on newsprint
The main thing to remember is that newspaper printing is not an exact science. Some inconsistencies are normal, and the colours of your newspaper will look different from what you see on a screen, but that’s part of the charm. 

Some of our favourite newspapers just use 100% CMYK colours – like the type specimen we printed for The New York Times Magazine, which was all black ink on salmon newsprint. (We have detailed artwork guidelines for digital and traditional printing and always recommend ordering free sample newspapers before you print.)

“Most people have an idea of what a newspaper ‘should’ look like, so you have an opportunity to play with the format and make something unexpected.”

Get creative with the format 
With Sam Rowe’s newspaper, [see below] the first thing that caught our eye was the illustration, which would look amazing in any medium. But he really used the scale of a newspaper wisely, giving his work plenty of room to breathe on each page, and turning the centre spread into a gorgeous poster. Sam’s style also suits the texture of newsprint – it’s not too polished and feels very human. And we thought leaving space for a handwritten note was a really thoughtful touch.

Think about how it’s packaged
We’ve seen some lovely packaging that’s simple but thoughtful, like the custom envelope that illustrator Craig Frazier designed to mail his newspaper. And sometimes the newspaper is the packaging – textile designer Olivia Wendel used hers as wrapping paper. We also spoke to Rob Haggart about packaging on our blog – he’s the founder of A Photo Editor and receives dozens of portfolios a month. He said the most important thing is to make sure it’s easy to open!  

You can use a newspaper for anything 
Our customers are always surprising us with new ideas. We’ve printed portfolios, menus, posters, catalogues, wedding invitations, maps, event programmes and, last month, a very sweet obituary for a dog name Lucy. If you can think of it, and fit it into one of our sizes, we can print it.

Sam's finished newspaper

Sam's finished newspaper

Details from Sam's finished newspaper

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Illustrator Sam Rowe on the process of producing his own newspaper:
In the past I'd sent things like promotional postcards featuring a couple of images. Things like that are simple but don't leave much wiggle room if the recipient isn't keen on that specific image, so this newspaper was the answer to that. It was cheap, had room for lots of pictures, and resulted in a nice clean tangible thing that you can leaf through. On top of that, it seemed like a nice way to show off work which is usually commissioned by editorial clients.

I wanted this to basically be a portfolio, so the size was a real selling point. It gave me space to print the images at (or bigger than) actual size and still left room for copy. I wanted to aim for as little text as possible so I just wrote the absolute minimum needed to provide context for the illustration. Mostly the title, client and story summary.

The biggest benefit of printing a newspaper was definitely the cost to size ratio. Printing an A3, 20pp book would normally be prohibitively expensive, especially to send out a bunch for free. But a newspaper made it accessible. The biggest challenges were probably the colour accuracy and show-through. Definition in dark areas really suffered so I lightened a few images after ordering a test copy. And the show-through can be a bit distracting, but tolerable. 

“A newspaper is a nice, clean, tangible thing that you can leaf through. It definitely helped get my work in front of new clients.”

Self initiated work for a NYT Magazine article about astronaut, Edgar Mitchell

The image in the newspaper

I was based in Bristol when I sent the paper out; it definitely helped get my work in front of new clients. About half went to art directors in the UK (London mostly) and the rest went to the US (almost all New York). Most of them went to people I hadn't worked with before but a few were to touch base with established clients.

It was received quite well, but (like anyone who's sent any promotional material will be familiar with) the most common response was silence. That said, the latent payoff is usually worth it. The initial responses I did get were really appreciative (a great ego boost, obviously) and I had some new work as (I think) a direct result last month.

The advice I'd give to anyone about to do the same is that I think the work is more important than the format and authenticity is more important than originality. So do what you can to show the work in its best light — and stick to your grids!

Sam included his preliminary sketch for the paper in the finished product

Lecture in Progress members can get 20% off when printing a newspaper with Newspaper Club. Head to the Offers and Promotions page to find out more. 

Posted 17 May 2018 Collection: First Hand
Disciplines: Illustration, Publishing, Design
Mentions: Sam Rowe, Newspaper Club
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