We’re Hiring a Ruby on Rails Developer

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We’re looking for a Ruby on Rails Developer to join our small, happy team. If the job description below sounds like you, please get in touch– we’d love to hear from you.  And please help spread the word!

Newspaper Club helps people make and print their own newspapers. Since 2010 we’ve printed over 6 million papers, built a rich Javascript web app (ARTHR) for designing a paper in your browser, launched a print-on-demand marketplace (The Newsagent) and a personalised newspaper service (PaperLater), which launched recently, to much acclaim. Here’s a great blog post from a recent customer of ours.

Our small tech team is now focused on overhauling our site and redeveloping ARTHR to make it even easier for anyone to make their own newspaper. We’re looking for an experienced Ruby and Javascript developer to join us and help build the next generation of Newspaper Club.

We’re looking for someone with 3+ years experience writing modern, tested, production-ready Ruby on Rails code, and a strong interest in object oriented Javascript (ARTHR is primarily built on Backbone.js). You’ll work closely with a small team to develop the next iteration of ARTHR and support development of our core site and services, with our experienced customer service team. You’ll be a pragmatist with a desire to iterate quickly on a product, while balancing that with the need to build well engineered software.

Our main office is in Glasgow with team members also based in Birmingham and London. We use tools like Slack, Skype, and Basecamp to communicate so clear communication skills are a must. Ideally you’d work in one of our existing locations but you could work remotely, with some occasional (expenses paid) travel to one of our offices. The following experience would be useful, but is not required for this position:

• Backbone.js or similar Javascript frameworks.
• Linux server administration experience, including configuration management tools such as Ansible and Chef.
• PDF files, and the printing process in general.

In return, we’ll offer a competitive salary (up to £45k for this position), flexible hours and a relaxed working environment. We believe in having fun, doing work we’re proud of, and going home on time.

If this sounds like you, we’d love to hear from you. Send us an application to jobs@newspaperclub.com describing why you’d be right for the role, with a link to your site, CV, portfolio, GitHub page or similar.

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Filed under: Hiring

Face Me

9Poppy Skelley is a an illustrator who recently finished her final year at Cambridge School of Art. She put together a digital tabloid newspaper called FACE ME, a fine collection of faces drawn over the course of her studies. Her lovely black-and-white drawings look great in newsprint, and we asked her to tell us a bit about her work:

FACE ME is a self-initiated project based on the topic of the face. I was researching into masks, faces and sculptures for a project that I was doing at university where I intended to create my own 3D busts out of clay. I had a lot of sketches and illustrations from museums and books that I produced throughout my project and I wanted to display them in some way.

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Printing through Newspaper Club was the ideal way to show my collection of illustrations and I found the online layout tool ARTHR really useful for playing around with page layout and page order.

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This paper also includes sketches made at home of my friends, self-portraits and faces drawn from my imagination. I am continuously drawing people and faces and it seems to be something that captures my interest and inspires me.

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The illustrations are produced using black and white gouache paints, pencils and pens.  I usually work with a lot of colour and texture in my illustrations, so it was a challenge to put together something that was black and white. It proved to be refreshing to work in a different way to what I am used to and I am very happy with the printed result.

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You can buy prints of Poppy’s drawings, including sketches from FACE ME, in her online shop. She keeps a very lovely illustration blog, too. Thanks for printing with us, Poppy!

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Filed under: art, ARTHR, case studies, illustration, Newspaper Stories

WASPS Open Studios

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This weekend (25th & 26th October) our studio complex South Block in Glasgow will be taking part in Wasps Open Studios. We printed a traditional mini brochure for the event, which has been happening at Wasps studio spaces around Scotland all this month:

Throughout October artists within Wasps’ Studios across Scotland will be providing visitors with a behind the scenes look at how they develop and make the high quality works on offer within Scotland’s galleries, museums and public spaces.

As part of GENERATION, a nationwide celebration of the past 25 years of contemporary art in Scotland, the 2014 edition of Wasps Open Studios will include a specially devised programme of talks, events and workshops from well-known and emergent artists. Wasps Open Studios first started in 2002. Since then, the event has attracted nearly 50,000 visitors. Its success shows a real appetite for audiences to learn more about how and why artists make their work.

Visitors have unrivalled opportunities to meet artists in their place of work and to gain a greater understanding of studio practice- a vital aspect of the creative process. Around 250 artists will open their studio doors to showcase the broad range of creative practices that Wasps’ supports. Wasps Open Studios is a nationwide event and one that celebrates the diversity of studio communities across ages, art-forms, practice and experience. It will take place in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, Irvine, Selkirk, Kirkcudbright and Newburgh.

Wasps regularly welcome those who are keen to learn about contemporary visual and applied arts and this year’s event will include events of interest to children, young people and school groups, international visitors and arts professionals, local residents, families and higher education students. Join us at Wasps Open Studios 2014 to celebrate this wealth of talent across the country!

South Block will be hosting artists’ talks and live screen printing– visit the Wasps website to see a full list of the events happening at South Block. Tickets are free but very limited so best to book online if you want to take part. Hope to see you there!

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Filed under: case studies, events

The Daily Veil

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Adele and Steve were married in March and they printed their order of service as a digital tabloid newspaper — The Daily Veil. The paper was even handed out before the ceremony by their very own flat-capped newsboy, Adele’s nephew. Adele and Steve have shared some photos from the day and written a bit about putting the paper together:

When it came to choosing our order of service design we wanted something unique and that would set the tone for the wedding right from the start. I had a vision of all of our guests holding newspapers whilst singing in the church and I instantly knew it was the right way to go.

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The trickiest bit was the content and the design, we really wanted to create a newspaper feel but yet keep some of the church traditions that you come to expect at a wedding. (We also knew we had to keep the vicar happy otherwise our newspapers would be a waste!)

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Once uploaded and sent to Newspaper Club they arrived in super speedy time and we absolutely loved them! So I whipped up a bag for my newspaper boy (nephew) and we were ready to go!

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On the day itself our newspaper boy was on fine form playing his vital role and everyone loved them. They are great as a keepsake and we know that any wedding we go to in the future no one will outdo our lovely papers!

Congratulations to Adele and Steve and thank you for printing such a special newspaper with us!

We’ve written about a few other lovely wedding papers on our blog and there’s a fine collection under the ‘wedding’ tag in The Newsagent.

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Filed under: case studies, weddings

Noir newsprint menu for Bang Bang Canteen

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Here’s an unusual thing to see in newsprint: a menu for ‘Noodle Noir’ restaurant Bang Bang Vietnamese Canteen in London. Arm and Eye creative studio came up with the idea of printing a digital tabloid menu as part of a film noir dining concept. We love the idea of a restaurant full of diners holding up newspapers and asked Arm and Eye to tell us more:

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Vietnamese restaurateurs David Le and Jimmy Yeung commissioned us to rebrand their new restaurant situated on Warren street in the heart of central London. Using the name Bang Bang as a starting point we have created what can only be described as the first ever ‘Noodle Noir.’ This hard-boiled film noir story is told in fractured pieces across the restaurants menus, napkins, social media, and a huge graphic artwork spread across one entire wall of the restaurant.

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The menu is a list of the amazing Vietnamese street food that David and Jimmy have carefully selected from dishes that they encountered on their travels. It also acts as an introduction to the story and the characters in this twisting tale of mobsters, double crossing and soft shell crab.

The Napkin has a lipstick kiss with a phone number scrawled on it. Calling the number takes you to a message left by one of the characters. Plenty of other clues are also hidden in the restaurant, and the canteen itself features in several key scenes.

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The plot plays out across social media with additional scenes, character back stories and clues revealed over the upcoming months. You can of course just go and enjoy the great Vietnamese cuisine on offer, or maybe delve a bit deeper and see what you can discover.

You can see more clever work from Arm and Eye on their website and see what’s cooking behind the scenes at Bang Bang on the restaurant’s Instagram. Thanks for printing with us!

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Filed under: case studies

Paper of the Month: Medea/Worn

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We recently printed our 6 millionth (!) newspaper but we’re still constantly being surprised by new and imaginative uses for newsprint. Our Paper of the Month for September is a perfect example: Medea/Worn is a script for an original play printed in the style of a 1950s dress pattern. It’s a beautiful piece of work, printed as two separate digital tabloids that are folded together. The paper was designed by writer and illustrator Emily Juniper, who was just nominated for Best New Playwright in the Off West End awards. We asked Emily to tell us more about project:

Medea/Worn is a limited edition, illustrated script, designed to look and feel like a 1950s dress pattern.  I explored the narrative of Medea’s bloody decision by giving voice to her wedding gown. I wanted to give voice to her wedding gown, as it turned from innocent dress to murder weapon. I wanted this transition to act as a vehicle for Medea to explore her justification and anguish as she considers the consequences of her horrific notion, that she must slay her own children in order to punish Jason completely for his treachery.

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I hand-made pocket-gusset envelopes, risograph printed by Ditto Press, which you must tear open to discover the folded sheets of newsprint within.  The quality of paper was so important to me, and the Newspaper Club allowed me to produce pages that really look and feel like the real thing.

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I’m currently studying for an MA in Illustration and Authorial Practice at Falmouth University.  When I was commissioned by The Faction Theatre Company to write a version of Medea, I felt it was a great project to combine with my exploration of illustration.

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I wanted to create a space for the play text that would utilise the performative quality of paper and also exploit the intimate encounter of the book as an object.

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As the new character in Medea was going to be her gown, I chose to set my poetic text against the schematic drawings of a dress pattern.  I loved the tension between the dense words and economical drawings.

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I sourced vintage patterns and created a grid for my words.  As Medea begins to lose her mind, the formal structures of the pattern disintegrate and the final page, when she has made the decision to kill her children, is blank.

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My hope is that the mathematical lines and shapes provide the same canvas for the imagination as is employed when unpicking metaphors or similes in prose.  Which is why this seemingly disparate connection between poetry and schematic drawings can be made.  The drawn lines in the pattern are compared to the folds and falling of fabric, but one is ink on a page and one is a three dimensional object. The conjuring act involved in this might be compared to the way Shakespeare describes winter branches as Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. The writer asks the reader to perform an act of poetic creation. This is what an illustrator is doing with ink lines on the page.  It is not the same thing as the object, yet it invokes it.

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Congratulations Emily, and thank you for sharing your brilliant project with us!

About Paper of the Month

Every month, we give a £100 Newspaper Club voucher to one paper shared in The Newsagent. If you’ve printed a paper with us, share your paper (through the settings in your account) for a chance to win.

 

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Filed under: case studies, illustration, Newsagent, Paper of the Month, students

How to Run a School Newspaper Project: Part 3

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Ian Vince is a writer and father who helped his daughter’s primary school class make a newspaper. He’s written about the process and today we have the final instalment of his guest blog posts. (You can catch up on Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them.)

After my second session of writing workshops with Key Stage 2 pupils, a problem started to become apparent with the whole idea. The children – all between 8 and 11 years old – had been charged with writing all the copy for an 8-page tabloid newspaper and while a lot of progress had been made, there were huge holes in the project. For one thing, there simply wasn’t the volume of material that was needed. Things had to change.

Fortunately, as the weeks passed, it became clear that the challenges that remained contained within them the seeds of their own solution. While not every child had contributed something that would fit within the paper, it was decided to get them to try a different kind of writing that could exist in a space dedicated to it. The teacher was asked if she could get the children to contribute two or three bite-sized amazing facts for every planet in the solar system. These would be compiled into an infographic for the centre spread – a pull-out poster, in effect. The copy that came back was excellent, focussed copy, everyone had contributed something and two pages could be laid out in a funky, interesting way.

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Copy started coming in from another class in the school. Key Stage 1 pupils supplied me with recounts – essentially newspaper reports – of the event that kicked off the workshop, the staged ‘landing’ of a small, home-made ‘time machine’ in the school field. These were all essentially the same story, with individual elaborations written of different details along the way. The trick was to get as many of these stories in print as possible, so it was run as a newspaper story, complete with captioned picture and screamer headline, but sub-divided into a kind of eye-witness vox-pops-in-print, enabling everyone to have a shout.

In the end, all but the very youngest children had a piece in their own school newspaper and every child could take a copy home. The school gained not only a set of interesting challenges that could drive pupil engagement and a stack of left-over newspapers to show prospective parents, but a PR opportunity in the local newspaper. The writer, meanwhile, found new ways of working, a thoroughly fulfilling and worthwhile project and inspiration from some of the most imaginative minds on the planet.

What To Do Next

Get in touch with a writer, journalist or editor. In particular, find out if there is one among the mums and dads or on the governing body. You don’t even need to find a writer with design experience as Newspaper Club’s online ARTHR layout tool gives you everything you need to get the children’s words and pictures into print.

Thanks very much to Ian Vince for sharing his experience. If you’re thinking about creating a newspaper for your school, read about how it works and have a look through The Newsagent for some design inspiration. You can also get in touch with us at support@newspaperclub.com if you have any questions about the process.

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Filed under: ARTHR, case studies, guest blog, Newspaper Stories, students

How to Run a School Newspaper Project: Part 2

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Yesterday we introduced Ian Vince, who organised a workshop at his daughter’s primary school to produce a newspaper. Today we have the second of Ian’s three guest blog posts documenting his experience putting together The Longford Examiner with the students.

In the first part of this series of three blog posts, I told you about how I came to be leading a children’s writing workshop for Key Stage 2 pupils at my daughter’s primary school – workshops that I hoped would help them produce all the words required for an 8-page tabloid newspaper.

That’s quite a tall order for a class of a dozen or so children aged between 8 and 11 of varying ability, especially when it is important for every pupil to contribute something – no matter how minor – to the finished paper.

If you’re a teacher reading this, you’ll know all about the educational targets you are charged with getting your class to meet. If, like me, you are not a teacher then remember that it’s not your job to teach – you are there to provide light and shade, a different viewpoint and perspective that will give the teacher new opportunities to do their job. Non-teachers who haven’t observed just what happens in a modern classroom will also be surprised at how dynamic teaching has become, with attention switching from whiteboard, to pupil interaction, to active teaching – a continual rolling back-and-forth that keeps energy and attention at an optimum level for learning.

Inserting a writer into this mix and taking the lesson two-handed with the class teacher keeps everything on the move, but beware of talking too much as you don’t want the novelty to wear off.

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Lessons, which stretched across three mornings, started with a short whiteboard presentation of science fiction graphics – book covers, NASA conceptual artwork – and imagination-firing facts. We talked about the constellation Orion and the various supernovae that have occurred in it over millions of years and looked at the star Betelgeuse which will probably be the next to go ker-blooey – tomorrow, next week or in a thousand years’ time. After filling their heads with the explosions of distant stars, it seemed like a good time to set the brief for them to write speculative fiction – what would life be like in 1000 years from now?

It turned out that the newspaper itself was inspiring (never under-estimate the promise of getting your name in print) even among the digitally-literate under-11s. Having shown pupils a Newspaper Club sample at the outset, many of them decided that they wanted to copy its various elements. All of a sudden, ads, puzzles, news stories, captions and the like were all mooted and the project took on a life of its own. This proved to be a useful disruption of the original plan to publish a paper full of short stories and poems, as the medium of long-form creative writing wasn’t suited to all.

At last, I started to be able to leave school with suitable material, but I was aware that there were gaping holes developing and it would take some determined steering to get the paper back on course.

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Filed under: case studies, guest blog, Newspaper Stories, students

How to Run a School Newspaper Project: Part 1

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According to today’s Google doodle it’s officially the end of summer and it’s back to school for many. We thought now would be a good time to show off a brilliant newspaper project from Longford Primary School in Salisbury. Countryfile columnist Ian Vince put together The Longford Examiner with his daughter’s primary class and has written a series of guest blog posts about the process. This is first of three instalments that will be posted over the next week. And now here’s Ian:

It started with a simple idea – a newspaper project for my daughter’s primary school, a project that could be somehow connected to activities during Book Week, to link writing and reading together and make it fun. It was also designed as a way of encouraging reluctant writers – especially in Key Stage 2, the top three years of school – to develop the writing skills that would stand them in good stead as they moved towards secondary school.

If all that sounds like a tall order, that’s only because the outcomes of simple ideas can be amazing. It’s easy to make newspaper projects educationally sound, but if a project has a few disruptive elements to it, children – who love the suspension of the normal order of things – truly engage in the learning, which was the aim all along.

To achieve that, a science fiction theme was set and work began on the construction of a few props to kick off the fun with – details below. Newspaper publication was the reward that would spur pupils on in their writing, but a subject, a setting and inspiration was needed to get them to start without even realising it.

In short, a simple, convincing crash scene was mocked up in the school playing field and children were breathlessly summoned to view the wreckage as morning assembly came to an end. CDs were ‘discovered’ on the machine, one for each class and each with its own message from ‘Fiona’, a time-travelling, living computer from the year 3014. Fiona set the pupils their tasks, a speculative fiction challenge to write about what they think life will be like in the future. One class is given a more conventional newspaper brief, to report on the whole Fiona story.

The next stage was how to turn this craziness into an opportunity for the class teacher. A subject we will return to in the next instalment.

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Props and materials

How far you go with your set-up is entirely up to you, but in this case, a few cheap DIY theatre props went a long way to providing a bit of back-story and ensuring that the situation was unusual enough to catch and fire the pupils’ imaginations:

  • Time machine
    Made from an odd-shaped box covered in silver foil, bits of dead circuit board from redundant TV remotes and some steam-punk ducting.
  • Spare mobile phone
    A siren and warning klaxon were provided by a mobile phone, rigged up to battery-powered speakers with a custom ringtone knocked up in a software sound editor and triggered by discretely ringing the phone.
  • Christmas lights
    Two sets of flashing LED lights were installed to create a pleasing pulsing light display
  • Smoke in a can
    An aerosol of smoke in a can, available from Maplin, was buried up to its nozzle next to the wreck in a way that enabled it to be operated with a foot.
  • CDs of messages from the future
    Fiona’s script was recorded as it was read aloud by computer screen-reading software. The sound file was then manipulated in Audacity, a free PC/Mac sound editor.

In the next instalment Ian will talk about organising his class of students and generating content for their newspaper. Tune in tomorrow!

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Filed under: case studies, guest blog, Newspaper Stories, students

The Assumption

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Fionnuala Doran is a student at the Royal College Art who recently won the British Library’s Comics Unmasked competition. Her work engages with history through simple, striking illustration — like this wonderful drawing of Tippoo’s Tiger from a series of sketches from the V&A. The Assumption is a 16-page graphic novelette printed as a digital broadsheet. You can see the comic in its entirety in The Newsagent. Fionnuala tells us about her project:

The Assumption is the end result of my first year studying Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art, and was developed initially as a very loose adaptation of Julian Barnes’ short story Shipwreck.

The Assumption tells the story of the almost forgotten 1879 death of a ten year old boy during a riot in the small market town of Lurgan, Northern Ireland, the attempts to define the circumstances of his death by both his family and the police and the subsequent events in the town, the truth of which has never been determined.

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Thank you for printing with us, Fionnuala! You can find more comic newspapers under the ‘illustration’ tag in The Newsagent.

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Filed under: art, case studies, illustration, Newsagent

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