Meet The Artist Behind The LA Rams’ Lotería Game, Who’s Driven To Rep Mexican Culture
Diego Mendoza-Ramos, 28, has hustled for nearly 10 years to bring his heart and identity into his work as a multidisciplinary artist. That passion landed him the gig of a lifetime: designing for the Los Angeles Rams.
Mendoza has taken his creativity into different art forms, including graffiti, NFTs and virtual reality. He’s even painted vibrant murals around L.A. County for big names, including one for the Los Angeles Football Club’s Carlos Vela. He designed the Lotería game and Vamos merchandise for the Rams — an experience that he says has been an honor.
He immigrated to L.A. from Tecate, a city in Baja California, Mexico, when he was around five years old. Mendoza’s mother helped introduce him to art. She left the family after getting caught up in gangs, but she had a deep love for low-rider and Chicano art.
“My mother had taught me how to do some art before she had left and I kind of just kept blossoming and thriving with it,” Mendoza said. “[I kept] sharing that as a kind of like, to keep her close to me in a way.”
He's developed a unique eye through the years. He was unhoused for a time while studying at El Camino College in Torrance and felt a sense of exclusion at shows because he was unlike other artists. Ironically, he’s gained recognition for a style that represents the complexities of his life.
Mendoza’s Mexican heritage and connections to L.A. are incredibly influential to his work. He calls himself bicoastal because he lives between L.A. and New York. But growing up, he spent most of his time in Inglewood, Lennox, and Hawthorne. For the Rams designs, he used concepts from L.A. culture and Mexican iconography to steer his art.
“I studied Mexican Aztec designs and cultural embellishments,” he said. “I needed something that would still meet both worlds… not just a fancy design that kind of looks a little bit saucy. Stuff like this and Aztec temples tell a story about how far we've come as a community.”
The Lotería project was special. He grew up playing the game “religiously” with his family. So when the Rams approached him, he says it gave him the freedom to bring his community into larger recognition with pieces that he felt “were not as spotlighted.”
His 25 Lotería cards merge Mexican trends with sports by using distinctive illustrations and colors. La Sandía is a partially eaten watermelon with “Rams” written on it. La Corona is (surprise) a beer can of Corona Extra. La Bandera is the team’s yellow color as a rally towel. The Lotería cards can only be picked up on game days, so fans can snag their beans to make a bet with friends. The Rams have a digital version that can be played during games and fans can win prizes.
Mendoza is particularly concerned with producing art for a company with good intentions. He’s seen brands struggle with that by trying to reach a certain demographic in a problematic way, but he says the Rams were upfront about doing this authentically and genuinely. He says they wanted his work to embody Inglewood and recognize the Latino fan base.
“My sole purpose is to be able to represent the community and, of course, the demographic of immigrants that I am part of, and shed some light like, ‘Hey, this is something that a whole city's enjoying, that was provided to you by someone who wasn't even supposed to be here.’”