What does a vegan grocery store, screen prints and punk rock have in common? VGKids print shop in Ypsilanti, Michigan, that’s what. Starting out as a vegan grocery store in Flint seemed to have its strikes and gutters 15 years ago. The plus side being when your grocery store isn’t busy, you get to print punk rock flyers and t shirts in your basement.
Aaron Bobzien is one of the founding members of the well established print house near Ann Arbor. Bobzien is a mixed media artist, on top of managing operations at the VG warehouse. He was kind enough to give me a brief history of the company and a tour of the building.
Old school machines & methods are part of the recipe for quality stickers, flyers & record sleeves. Two beastly press machines from the 30’s and 40’s print as well as cut a bulk of the products in house. ” We used to operate these machines all by foot until last year” said Aaron Bobzien, “last year, we decided to add automatic parts to save our leg muscles.”
Each machine weighs over a ton, spitting out quality products well worth their weight. Vintage machines, made in the U.S.A. are just one of the many secrets behind the over all success of the growing company. The founding members still have their eyes and ears to the ground on every product from top to bottom. Not one tiny detail is overlooked in the operation, making a solid work flow seem easy.
Printing over 100,000 t-shirts last year with 75% of the orders out of state, the printers literally roll up their sleeves everyday when they come to work. Every employee of the company knows every facet of the company inside and out, leaving the customer with an extraordinary goods.
The archives are insane in this place. From simple one color prints to metallic/glow in the dark inks not to mention multi colored fountain-floods that will make your head spin. Viewing the work in person was one of the freshest experiences I’ve had in quite some time. As far as the print world goes, VGKids are leading the Mid-West in variety and quality work over all. They are the official product/poster printers for the band Modest Mouse and local record label Ghostly International just to name a few.
Pretty stoked we have our own section of a flat file.
VGKids are a very blue collar operation with white collar products. Something every company in and out of the art business should strive for. Having a solid printer on your team is never an easy task to achieve. We all greatly appreciate the hard work put into every project and consistency over the last decade. Thanks dudes!!!
Words & photos by Mike Popso