The Parative Project

this flag won't change your life, but it will change someone else's


Drew Oxley

Jeremiah and his wife Becki have electrifying personalities. They are the type of people that are so fun to be around and can strike up a conversation with anyone. They are also the type of people that get stuff done. They dream big dreams AND they find ways to make it happen. Of course its inspiring and makes you want to do whatever it is your going after, but more importantly they are making an impact and literally changing people's lives. It's people and things like this we love hearing and sharing about. We can't wait to fill you all in on what they have going on!

PARATIVE: Thanks for sharing with us, Jeremiah. Can you tell us a little about your dream?

JEREMIAH: Since I lived in Guatemala and began my tattoo apprenticeship nearly a decade ago, it has been my dream to return to Guatemala with a team of tattoo artists to do a bunch of cover-up tattoo work for former gang members and others who have made significant life changes. My tattoo apprenticeship began in Guatemala as I was volunteering in gang prisons and with young men who were trying to leave the gang lifestyle. Covering up gang tattoos can quite literally be a life saving transaction in many circumstances, and it is powerful to see the reaction on one’s face when they see a symbol that they were once embarrassed by or reminded them of a dark past covered by a beautiful work of art. 

Photo: Jesse Fox 

Photo: Jesse Fox 

PARATIVE: What action steps have you taken recently towards this dream?

JEREMIAH: We decided that it was time to stop dreaming about this and make it happen, so a few months ago we decided we were going to go in January 2017. We weren’t quite sure how we would come up with the funds to make the trip happen, but we trusted that if we were supposed to do it everything would fall into place. We wanted to allow as many people as possible to join us in support of this trip and play a part however they could. Our crew of five people from White Whale Tattoo all committed to go, and some other friends decided to join us on the trip as well to help however they could. We decided to hold a fundraiser in which we would take walk-ins on a Saturday (we are typically appointment only) and all of our artists created a series of tattoo designs that people could choose from, with all of the proceeds going to cover the costs of the trip. When we opened the doors at 10am, we could not believe that we had a line of fifty or so people out the door and down the street! We planned to tattoo until 8pm and ended up tattooing until about 10:30pm as people just kept coming, some of them waiting all day. It was such an incredible vibe of positive people from all walks of life coming together around the cause. We did 62 tattoos that day and raised nearly $9,000. I had my Jordan day and tattooed 23 people, which was well beyond a personal record!

PARATIVE: That is amazing. Unreal results and love that you had your best day. Can you share any stories or highlights from the trip?

JEREMIAH: There is so much to process from the trip and so many incredible stories but one of my favorites is the story of a cupcake coverup for Luis, the former gang member who now is as sweet as can be. He currently sells cupcakes and candy on the public buses to provide for his three children. Everyday he feared for his life as someone from an opposing gang, or the police, might see his old gang tattoos. Thanks to the collaboration of @ag_aka_annie and @nikiwoltja he no longer has to worry; the gang tattoo has been covered by 🍬🍭and a cupcake!

PARATIVE: Thats an amazing story and tattoo. What does this dream look like in 5-10 years?

JEREMIAH: Sometimes my wife, Becki, and I dream about someday having a guest home in Guatemala so we can host people who want to learn about and volunteer there. Perhaps we may even open up a tattoo studio there someday. Ultimately though, our dream is that 5-10 years from now we will have taken many more trips to Guatemala with others who are interested in building relationships, and they will go back and take their friends, and it will continue to ripple into something much bigger than I could even imagine. I believe that anytime we travel and interact with others of different cultures or speak different languages, it creates more understanding, inspires creativity, and reminds us that we are all part of one big diverse and beautiful family. When one travels to Guatemala or elsewhere and forms a lifelong friendship with someone who lives there, we begin to converse about how to tear down any walls that separate us rather than build new ones. Often what we discover when we travel to a new place is a mutually beneficial relationship in which we learn from the individuals who live there as much as, and in some cases even more than, they do from us. 

PARATIVE: Keep dreaming and doing, man! We love it and can't wait to follow along with what happens next.

JEREMIAH: Yeah and actually we will be doing another Tattoo Flash Day on Thursday May 11th from 11am-6pm that will raise funds for our next trip.