Fresh Ink

October 2, 2014
Author: Christina Hagopian

Dan Friedman: Radical Modernist

AIGA retrospective on a radical designer

AIGA’s opening reception last night for Dan Friedman: Radical Modernist., a retrospective on the highly influential graphic designer who pioneered postmodern layouts and typography. The exhibit was designed by our good friend Laura Varacchi of LVCK Environmental Graphics and her legendary mentor, Chris Pullman, vice-president of design for WGBH Boston. Bravo!


In 1994, near the end of his life, Friedman offered this 12-point “radical modernist” agenda for life and work—as wise, optimistic and relevant as it was 20 years ago.

  1. Live and work with passion and responsibility; have a sense of humor and fantasy.
  2. Try to express personal, spiritual, and domestic values even if our culture continues to be dominated by corporate, marketing, and institutional values.
  3. Choose to remain progressive; don’t be regressive. Find comfort in the past only if it expands insight into the future and not just for the sake of nostalgia.
  4. Embrace the richness of all cultures; be inclusive instead of exclusive.
  5. Think of your work as a significant element in the context of a more important, transcendental purpose.
  6. Use your work to become advocates of projects for the public good.
  7. Attempt to become a cultural provocateur; be a leader rather than a follower.
  8. Engage in self-restraint; accept the challenge of working with reduced expectations and diminished resources.
  9. Avoid getting stuck in corners, such as being a servant to increasing overhead careerism, or narrow points of view.
  10. Bridge the boundaries that separate us from other creative professions and unexpected possibilities.
  11. Use the new technologies, but don’t be seduced into thinking that they provide answers to fundamental questions.
  12. Be radical.

Learn more about Dan Friedman at

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