We caught up with photographer Omeez for an exclusive interview on his art showcase, “Not for Sale” at Black Scale last night. As a bay area native, his work embodies his love for the city and tells a story of keeping the art and streetwear scene alive in the ever changing tech world in San Francisco. Tastemakers gathered to buy limited edition prints and an exclusive collab shirt from Black Scale X Omeez.
On Black Scale Collab
What is the BLACK SCALE x IAMOMEEZ show about & why did you decide to come up with this show based around the concept of “Not For Sale”?
This is a showcase for the gentrification in and around areas of the Bay Area. It’s been in many talks but not expressed enough in a visual aspect, growing up in the bay area it was so diverse with real culture and amazing people. I understand it on a street level so the concept “Not For Sale” is really telling the newcomers our Space & Culture is not for sale, we can not be bought no matter the amount. You absolutely can not take away the culture that was built here.
What made you want to do this project with Mega of Blackscale?
Me and Mega have been talking about doing something for a while. I figured his space was the perfect location to do my 2nd showcase. I really appreciate that we can do this because the event was amazing all around.
On Music That Inspires Him
Thanks for making us this exclusive Spotify playlist. How has music influenced your work? Which artists do you listen to when you are adventuring around the city?
Music is very influential, I appreciate good music and great lyrics and or message. When I’m walking around I’m usually listening to all types of artist such as; Mozzy, Kendrick Lamar, Smino, JT The 4th, SOBxRBE, Moneybagg Yo, and Andres just to name off a couple in my playlist.
Which music artist has influenced you the most as far as the message they put out?
For sure my top artists are 2Pac, Kendrick, and Mozzy because I can relate to all of them. They all have a different story but they come from nothing, literally the bottom. They all made it out so that inspires me to push myself to go as hard as they did, I want my message heard by the masses.
On Growing Up In The Bay
How has the Bay Area influenced the work you create? Can you tell us a little about growing up here and what it was like?
Growing up here is amazing, you have so many great brilliant people in one place. The diversity here is amazing; people get along and see no color unlike other places. Everyone here is very genuine to one another, I’ve been blessed to go to so many other places but still I always say the Bay Area is the best place in the world. The Bay really is what pushed my work to where it is today. It just had a huge impact on me from a youngin’ to an adult.
How do you feel about the gentrification of inner cities in the Bay Area? What do you think the original people from these areas need to do to prevent this from happening?
Honestly that Sh*t really sucks. You can just see it all around how much it sucks up the environment it’s like spilling oil in the ocean, it doesn’t mix. But it is partly our fault as natives here this is such an amazing area and so many brilliant minds are here. I just think in inner communities we need to buy the blocks back from all the tech, it’s not hard they have money but we have the people!
In what ways are you impacting your local community with your photos?
I’m sure my work gives people a different perspective on their surroundings. It makes you take time to actually look at everything around you and notice the things that tell a story. My community as a whole has so much history that you just have to stop and look at it.
On The Grind
What is the most profound memory or experience you’ve had since beginning photography?
A great memory for me was traveling around Europe with Ryan Leslie and my Homie Keoni Marcelo. We traveled for 2 months on a tour bus all around places like Sweden, Switzerland, Paris, Lyon, Amsterdam and so many other spots too. It was a great experience to see different areas and cultures as well.
Did you expect this amount of success as a creative when you initially started taking photos? Can you pinpoint the moment when photography became a profession instead of just a hobby?
Coming from where I came I didn’t expect to get anywhere close to this success. To me honestly it’s not even success yet because I have so much more to accomplish and give back. It became a profession once big brands such as Nike and New Balance approached me for some projects that left a huge impact on my career that opened up so many doors for me.
As a photographer what kind of impact have you had on the upcoming generation and what inspires you to continue your movement?
Hopefully I have had a great impact, I know it’s hard to make it out of the Bay Area so I hope that I can be proof that you sure can make it out of this place and take your talents or creative mind anywhere you’d like as long as you work hard for it.
How do you work towards ensuring that your brand thrives and continues to grow?
I just continue to be myself, create what I want and not listen to what anyone has to say. I know I have the right path and journey I’m on so keeping that mentality for my brand will pay off in any situation.
What has been the most difficult part of being your own brand and running it alone?
It’s not necessarily difficult, it does take a lot of time just to learn every aspect of it. I don’t mind learning because the more I know about my brand and business, the more I know no one else can come and take advantage of it. I love the hustle so much too!
Where do you see IAMOMEEZ in 5 years? What plans do you have in the works that you can tell us about?
In 5 years I want my own facility; a home for any upcoming youth who just need a place to come and meet other creatives, but also be able to create on their own. I just want to give back the opportunities to them because they are the most important people to me, Giving back is a huge aspect to who and what I do. Plans are already there, I’m just looking for capital to do it all honestly, but trust me YOU WILL BE HEARING FROM ME!
Follow Omeez’s Artist Inspirations Playlist on Spotify
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