When you can't celebrate in person, send birthday wishes with a newspaper

Celebrating a birthday in quarantine with newsprint

As we all adjust to life with social distancing, we're finding new ways to stay connected to the people we care about. Over the coming weeks, we'll be showing how our team and customers are using newspapers to keep in touch.

Below, illustrator and Newspaper Club support assistant Michaela Pointon shares the digital tabloid she printed to celebrate a friend's 30th birthday from afar.

The last weeks have felt so surreal, with unthinkable changes happening overnight. One of those changes is not being able to celebrate important milestones with friends in person. Now we’re having to find new, creative ways to keep connected.

My friend Gabby and I met at the Glasgow School of Art in 2008 and have been best friends since. Today Gabby runs a print and design studio here in Glasgow called Risotto and she had a big party planned for her 30th birthday this month. Like everything, it was cancelled because of coronavirus. 

Celebrating a birthday in quarantine with newsprint

Gabby (left) and Michaela (right) in less socially distant times.

I wanted Gabby to know I was thinking of her, even if we couldn’t be together for a party. Creating a newspaper seemed like the perfect way to send birthday wishes and remind her of the fun things we can do to celebrate once things get better. I decided to make a digital tabloid and used Newspaper Club’s layout software, ARTHR, to design it.

Celebrating a birthday in quarantine with newsprint

Birthday newspaper designed by Michaela Pointon. Printed as a digital tabloid.

STEP 1: CHOOSE IMAGES

Gabby and I share a love of colour, print and play. I collected a bunch of images that represent our favourite things to do together — like eating pizza, watching movies, goofing around in the sun (when we’re fortunate enough to get sunshine in Glasgow!) and working on puzzles. I had a lot of fun trawling through Google images and my Pinterest trove.

fredun shapur playsack costumes

"Playsack" costumes designed by Fredun Shapur.

For the front cover I used a big photo of costumes designed by Fredun Shapur in the 1960s (pictured above). On Gabby’s birthday I was able to deliver a bunch of peonies over her hedge, but I added a bouquet of printed flowers to the back cover of the newspaper, too:

BIrthday newspaper by Michaela Pointon

Birthday newspaper designed by Michaela Pointon. Printed as a digital tabloid.

STEP 2: DESIGN (KEEP IT SIMPLE!)

Make sure to read Newspaper Club’s design guides for digital printing before you get started. 

ARTHR works best with simple designs, so I wanted to stick to a grid of images with bold colours and snippets of text. I’ve used ARTHR to create other newspapers in this format — including a birthday newspaper for my dad — and they’ve turned out great. I find that adding short captions helps break things up visually, and in this case I described the activities that we can do in the future:

activities

Grapefuits! Kites!

ARTHR will warn you if any images are below our minimum image resolution of 150DPI. You can also zoom in and view the images at 100% to see how they are likely to appear in print. (It’s fine to print images at a lower resolution if you don’t mind them looking a bit fuzzy.)

STEP 3: A BIRTHDAY SURPRISE

I printed a single copy of the newspaper and had it delivered directly to Gabby. It arrived two working days after I placed the order and Gabby sent me a message to say how much it meant to her: 

“Michaela, thank you so much! I just got my newspaper and it was so uplifting and lovely. I love the pics and the illustration at the back — there with you, picking flowers of the imagination!”

Celebrating a birthday in quarantine with newsprint

The newspaper on Gabby's desk!

I'm thrilled I was able to bring some sunshine through the letterbox. Newspapers filled with happy memories and kind thoughts are one way to keep positive during these difficult times.


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