Jon Daniel RIP


Design genius and activist Jon Daniel dies

There is an exhibition at Tate Modern that chronicles African American Civil Rights art. Paintings, posters, graffiti and slogans, all capturing the essence of Black struggle in the late 1960’s.

Here in the UK, the work of one man, Jon Daniel has a body of work that almost single-handedly captures the last twenty years of Black British struggle and empowerment through his work in part with Operation Black Vote, but also his many other projects including his successful ‘Supa Brother’ series.

Sadly a too young Jon Daniel died today.

We met Jon Daniel with his then creative partner Trevor Robinson over 20 years ago. OBV had just recently been launched and we were looking for creative partners to help mobilize the Black British vote.

Through sheer chutzpah we’d managed to convince the advertising giant DBB and H, to pitch their ideas to work with OBV. Lee Jasper and I took Jon and Trevor with us. They - DBBH- gave us the 5-star treatment; their best creative team, a production company and a budget that would have paid a significant part of our salaries. Afterwards, we sat with Jon and Trevor.

Jon began, ' Look guys, we can’t offer you a fraction of what DBBH have offered, but what we can give you is a Black product that will empower our people and catapult OBV onto the main political stage. Jasper and I looked at each other simultaneously nodded and said: 'Deal done!'.

And there was to begin a two-decade relationship with Daniel who accounted for almost half of all our OBV posters, bringing stars such as Saville Row designer Ozwald Boateng, singing super star Desree, and writer and actress Meera Syal. The first one, as Daniel predicted, caused shockwaves that went all the way to Downing St.

The Daniel/Robinson idea was that too few Black people had engaged in formal politics-voter registration and turnout, and that their first endeavor needed to be profound. So they made a series of posters picturing the then party leaders with the strap line ‘Imagine if one million Black people let John Major know how we feel’ and right underneath his face was his phone number, or in this case his local constituency number. Go on give the ‘Brixton boy‘ a call, which was a reference to Major calling himself a Brixton boy.

After day five of the campaign Majors’s local constituency considered changing their number having to received a deluge of calls with people wanting to express their views to the PM.

Daniel and Robinson had helped Black politics be heard in a place it never had been.

Most people, if they are lucky, have one of two good creative ideas, but not this brother, he would call up in the middle of the night, ‘Si, got this great idea, what do you think?’ ‘Eh, Jon it's, but yeah its a truly great idea, can we talk in the morning.'

The most awful thing about losing Jon, is not about the genius, although that’s a tragedy, the biggest loss is losing a man with a bigger heart you could ever wish to meet. He never bad mouthed anyone, and if he liked you and your cause, and knew your organisation had small funds, he ‘d say “don’t worry about that, let's just get the job done”.

I/we will sorely miss you Supa brother Jon

RIP Jon Daniel

Here are some of the work of Jon Daniel