As the Rastafarian message spreads around the world, one visual artist in particular has created a pictorial iconography of Rasta consciousness. This artist is Ras Daniel Heartman (1942-1990). Ras Daniel is perhaps most widely recognized for portraying the first cinematic rasta in the 1972 film, The Harder They Come, but his life’s work was as an artist who created a legacy of powerful images to manifest his spiritual beliefs.
Bob Marley wearing a “Daniel in the Lions Den” tee shirt
Peter Tosh wearing a “Not Far Away” tee shirt
Keith Richards wearing a “Prince Emanuel” tee shirt
A devout Rastafarian who was crucial in converting other believers such as Bob Marley, Ras Daniel drew from his beliefs to create symbols which take the viewer deeper into the understanding of Rastafari. The images are recognizable the world over on t-shirts, flags and tattoos. Ras Daniel’s drawings rank among the most widely known artworks to come out of Jamaica. His symbolism is central to understanding Rastafari. As his artwork continues to influence a growing audience, his legacy deserves recognition.