You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, Aug 3, 2009 : 8 p.m.

VG Kids hopes to provide affordable creative space with new venture

By Jeremy Peters

Not satisfied with the relative lack of affordable creative space in the area, VG Kids Printing founder James Marks and a subset of the crew at his independent screen printing shop in Ypsilanti are making an attempt to remedy the situation. Their solution? SPUR Studios.

"We are trying to make a great place for artists by providing them with a building they can make into their own, drawing inspiration from that, and [from] each other's ideas," said Steve Emschwiller. Steve is part of James' screen printing crew and is the main contact for the music community over at SPUR. "Basically, its a grassroots, DIY type of project. We are starting with no funding, no outside money whatsoever, and we're building from there."

A do-it-yourself theme seems to flow through in the process of leasing each individual space as well. Save for a basic set of ground rules, tenants are welcome (and encouraged) to paint, rip up carpet, and do what they want to each individual space. "We want the building to come together by each tenant's own personality," Steve said.

The building they settled on is two floors; the street-level floor is reserved for visual artists, and the lower level is reserved for musicians, and according to their website, the prices are meant to be affordable, ranging from about $125 - $375 a month, and come in quite an assortment of shapes and sizes. There are 30 spaces available in the building, and the building contains a shared kitchen area that James and company hope to be able to improve with some basic essentials, such as a refrigerator and microwave in order to make the place a bit more hospitable for the tenants-to-be.

SPUR plans to hold a series of fundraisers and events featuring the tenants' musical and visual works, in hopes of providing an opportunity to showcase work and to help SPUR be able to invest a bit more in some of the common areas of the space. Unfortunately, unlike the Russell Industrial Center in Detroit, SPUR Studios' building is not zoned to host large-scale crowds; therefore, James and Steve are looking for outside venues to partner with in hosting these events.

Thanks to our depressed economy, much commercial space is currently up for grabs and in my mind, it was only a while until something like this happened. I'm heartened to see the original vision of VG Kids extended at the same time in this process. The original beginnings of VG Kids came out of James' original vegan food store-record store-screen printing shop-show space concept in Pontiac in the early 2000's and SPUR Studios seems to be the direct extension of a want to be able to provide affordable creative space locally for the burgeoning independent do-it-yourself artistic scene our area has cultivated. I've always liked the idea of art communities such as this, and I'm quite interested in how this goes here in our own backyard.

Jeremy Peters covers what he likes to call the Underbelly of the Local Arts and Music Scene as a community blogger for He can be reached at 734-217-4570 or


Jeremy Peters

Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 12:04 a.m.

Bilcero, SPUR Studios' space is located at 800 Lowell in Ypsilanti, MI 48197.,+ypsilanti&sll=42.277416,-83.733276&sspn=0.124725,0.303841&ie=UTF8&ll=42.252822,-83.618703&spn=0.007798,0.01899&t=h&z=16&iwloc=A&iwstate1=actions Best, Jeremy

Jennifer Shikes Haines

Mon, Aug 3, 2009 : 7:46 p.m.

This reminds me of the old Performance Network space and accompanying studios when it was located on W. Washington.

Jeremy Peters

Mon, Aug 3, 2009 : 4:53 p.m.

a2d2, In an effort to cut down on email spam, I won't post the direct email addresses, but interested parties can contact SPUR Studios by the email addresses on their contact page: Best, Jeremy

Mike Schiller

Mon, Aug 3, 2009 : 3:42 p.m.

Also, who do you contact if you want to rent space?


Mon, Aug 3, 2009 : 3:26 p.m.

Care to tell us where this building is located? Google maps is lots of fun!