Omar “El Oms” Juarez

Power, Community, Timeless

Omar "El Oms'' Juarez, is a California-based visual artist from Mexico City whose work is a combination of old-school animation techniques and new-school Chicanx aesthetics. In the early aughts, Juarez, who was working as an artist but also DJing, found his way to the Bay Area and LA where he started to see the work of street artists and skaters. Around 2014, Juarez decided to start making the new style that he makes now and took up the name "El Oms'' on the suggestion of a friend. “El Oms” work is painstaking and colorful frame by frame handrawn animation, which started as a reimagining of the Universal Monsters (Frankenstein, Vampires, Werewolves) in the style of the Cholo/a of the 70s and 80s. "Cholo/a", originally a Central/ South American pejorative used to refer to people of mixed Spanish and Indigenous descent, is a term that has been reclaimed in the United States to signify pride, a stamp of authenticity especially in the Southwest and California. In the same way that the Zoot Suit came to be weaponized against the Mexican-, African- and Philippinx-American communities that helped pioneer its popularity, so too the visual style of the Cholo/a's has been racialized to signify violence.

Juarez is making the statement, through his modernized depictions, that being a Chola is more about the class, the community and the unique style than the violence of gangs.

"El Oms" work, which features themes of melancholy and sadness through references to the lone-wolf, serves in the opposite function to open the door to his culture so that others can share in it. For him, the support of his community is extremely important. It informs his art, helps to craft a narrative that will speak for others through his voice. Juarez prides himself on his direct connection with fans, making a point to meet with his early supporters on Instagram in person so that they would become enmeshed in the world of his art. In this way, his work gained popularity through word of mouth as well as through online presence. And it helps that he befriended Dan Auerbach, formerly of the Black Keys, who hired "El Oms" on to direct and create the music video for their song “Put a Flower in Your Pocket.” Juarez’s contribution is a treat, a psychedelic and colorful journey, rough and refined, and always “real to his style.”
Statement by Omar El-Sabrout

A conversation with:

Omar “El Oms” Juarez