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PDF Aesthetics

A publishing manifesto

June 8, 2018

Publishing a PDF is an act of rebellion. They work on every device. But they work perfectly on none. It’s there on mobile but you have to pinch pinch pinch. There’s no rules or grids or frameworks for publishing a PDF. They can look any way, polished or xeroxed. Big or small. PDFs will outlive Facebook. They are the cockroaches of media that will be here long after we’re gone. They’re ugly and dirty.

But their aesthetics are beautiful. Brutalist publishing that exposes the raw materials.

Some inspiration….

textbook.pdf - 10 icons reconstructed, the masterful manifesto / mood board /documentary from Virgil Abloh on the making of the latest sneaker line for Nike.

2010_Original_Rosa-Menkman-Glitch-Studies-Manifesto.pdf - a glitch studies manifesto from Rosa Menkman: “The dominant, continuing search for a noiseless channel has been, and will always be no more than a regrettable, ill-fated dogma”

YOUTH MODE (4).pdf - a research report from K-hole that sparked the entire Normcore culture. Masterfully presented.

PW5.pdf - Library of the Printed Web volume 5 from Paul Soulellis. The wonderful project that explores and considers the digital/print divide.

Drop me your all time favorite PDFs in the comments.


This blog is written by Tom Critchlow, an independent strategy consultant living and working in Brooklyn, NY. If you like what you read please leave a comment below in disqus or sign up for my Tinyletter.