1.Name: Ben Reigle


2. Age: 37

3. Art Medium: Tattooer, musician, acrylic and oil painter, watercolorer, pen and inker, graphic designer.

4. Hails from: Stafford, Connecticut

5.Currently Living in: Holyoke, Massachusetts 

6. What drew you to move or stay in the Pioneer Valley?
Coming from a small town, with a mindset befitting a place with a sub-Nascar race track, I grew up an outcast. I didn’t fit the norms of what I was exposed to. I hated sports, hated racing and things with engines, hated a lot of stuff in my formative years. That hatred fueled me to seek out other non-conformists who had similar perspective. Somewhat of a natural ability to traverse all different sub-genres of people came very easy to me, and while others dismissed that as being fake, I have learned that a honest and genuine person can identify with others regardless of whatever label they or others put on them. This all led me to hardcore music. I played in a band in the early-mid 90’s. We found a home in the western Mass hardcore scene, and never left. Coming from my hometown, the Pioneer Valley was a vibrant, artsy community with a lot of people that shared the same view on the world as I did. It didn’t seem exclusionary, it seemed accepting. It was new, fun and exciting. I look back and wonder how much of that was wanderlust and how much was reality, but as my sister went to NYU in 93-96 and I was in NYC on at least a monthly basis, I like to think I had a decent understanding of it all. Western Mass seemed like home from the get go. There was a lack of the pretentiousness that I felt in Connecticut, and still to this day, comparing the two, leads me to the same conclusion, albeit having a far more informed opinion. Years passed and life happened and I am still here now, a father, a business man, a professional artist, semi-professional musician. I find inspiration from those I surround myself with, and this area has some of the sweetest, most caring most human beings I have ever encountered. That is what drew me here and what keeps me here to this day, like minded outcasts who have made it in one way or another by their own terms. Now that I have learned to live with the hatred, and to channel it properly and not let it consume me, I find myself yearning to go to the woods to live.

7. Where do you find support for your creative endeavors in the community? 
Now, it is the people I actively seek out, I do not expect anything from anyone. I try and earn it. Having worked at a music store for years, being in bands for over 2 decades, and tattooing for 9 years, I have been truly blessed with some of the greatest encounters I could ever ask for. My client base is my true support system, they help me pay my bills and afford a nice life that I am proud of. I find support in other local businesses, reaching out and being reached out to by people. Taking care of one another. I love being a part of a community, I think I am a socialist at heart, meaning I think if we all play a part in our communities and our communities thrive, we all do better and it resonates outwards from there. 

8. Have you ever considered leaving the area to better benefit your work? 
I have left, I moved to Burlington, VT. for a music store job in 2005. It was rough for me. I had a persona here, or so I thought, and moving away and losing all bragging rights about this and that really helped me deconstruct my view of myself. Now that I have questioned that ego mentality, or try to practice that at the very least, and I have learned to take critiques, I have a different view. I love traveling to go tattoo, and tattooing affords me the chance to go do that. I love going to Atlanta and Orlando a few times a year each, and every time I do I return with a renewed energy, but also a renewed love for the Valley. I swear there is something magic about going from Holyoke to Easthampton and going over Mt. Tom, even after the microburst tore it to shreds, it still invigorates me. 

9. What would you like to see more of in the Valley to better support artists?
As a tattooer, I am fairly fulfilled by The Blueprint Gallery. Working by appointment only has led me to a sense of peace, calm and focus that I could have never attained at other tattoo studios. As far as other medium, I feel as though there is a lack of interesting galleries to show work in. I find most of the galleries to be exclusive and tending to showcase art that never speaks to me. Foe and a few others are exceptions.  As far as music goes, I feel as though the larger venues around here being owned by a monopoly that has no interest in supporting the local music scene has been a detriment to the musicians around here. I think the venues in Northampton could be like a training grounds. Start at the small room, start booking that out well move onto the next room, and on up until you are headlining the biggest room in the town, and all along helping raise the music up in the area. I am a dreamer in that sense I suppose, for I do not see the structures in place changing. There are far too many bro bars, thug laden places where you feel unsafe, and again monopolies that have ruined a lot of opportunity. It would be nice to have decent size room with a great stage and good sound that could circumvent the regime and get some locals stage time with some nationals without having to sell your own tickets, and support a place that lets their buildings crumble and their staffs starve. The fact that they deem where on the bill your band plays by how your ticket sales go it an awful practice. I personally believe that is a bullshit format. I am an artist and a musician, and although I have a sales position in my past, I want to concern myself with creating and marketing my band, not slinging tickets for a venue. That job of promotion should land on the venues shoulders more in my opinion.There are some great venues doing some great stuff, I think the Flywheel does a great job and have for a long time, and a handful of promoters who are trying to fight against this norm that do a great job in venues like the 13th Floor, The Ohm, The Platinum Pony and I am sure I am forgetting some. A place like Ralph’s Diner in Worcester is a perfect example of a place with character, a great sized room and the ability to book the place and draw people in. We need that here. 

10. Do you have additional comments on the arts and music scene in the Valley? I appreciate the opportunity to speak on that. Without maintaining a negative mindset, I feel like the illusion of the Valley is different from reality. There is this liberal progressive facade that gets projected, but I honestly see past the facade. Inherent underlying racism is clearly evident. Classism and gentrification are evident everywhere you look. There always has been a beautifully cultured and rich “counter” culture in the Valley, regardless of the ever present culture-wealth-race gap that stares us in the face daily. I try not to dwell in the bitter angry mental state for too long, and when I find myself creeping there, I stop, take a breath, take a look around and realize how amazing a life I have here in the Pioneer Valley. Although some things are worth fighting and bitching about with out a shred of doubt, I also want to be mindful of how beautiful life here surrounded by amazing people really is.


Tattoo on one of our favorite clients Amanda, done by Resident Artist Ben Reigle.