creative:impact - Collaborations Can Make For Creative Business Success

Jul 30, 2019

(From L to R) Ypsi Alloy Studios founders Ilana Houten, Jessica Tenbusch, and Elize Jekabson
Credit Doug Coombe / Concentrate Media

Ilana Houten and Jessica Tenbusche, two of the three co-founders of Ypsi Alloy Studios, chat about how a business born of each artist’s need for studio space developed into a cooperative and supportive business model serving other “dirty” artists in Ypsilanti.  On "creative:impact,"  WEMU’s David Fair and The Arts Alliance’s Deb Polich  learn about what makes Ypsi Alloy Studio’s model work.  

Deb Polich, President and CEO of The Arts Alliance

Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy.  In the weeks and months to come, 89.1 WEMU's David Fair and co-host Deb Polich, the President and CEO of The Arts Alliance, explore the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.

About Ypsi Alloy Studios 

Ypsi Alloy Studios is a shared studio space where visual artists can make, create, and collaborate.  Its goal is to establish a strong community of Ypsilanti-based artists, as well as attract artists from outside of the immediate area to foster its growth.  The studio is approximately 4300 square feet.  It has 18 individual artist spaces and 4 main shared studios, a ceramics studio, a metalsmithing studio, metals shop, and wood shop.  All artists have 24 hour access to all the tools and equipment.  It has had 3 groups shows and 4 holiday markets.  It also frequently hold critiques and other open studio events. 

About the Studio's Founders

Elize Jekabson
Credit Doug Coombe / Concentrate Media

Elize Jekabson

Elize Jekabson is an Ypsilanti based artist.  She graduated with a Bachelors from Eastern Michigan University with a concentration Sculpture.  Her recent work draws a strong connection between nature and Latvian culture that has helped her foster an appreciation for organic aesthetics.  Elize works full time as a chef, and when she’s not making beautiful compositions on the plate, she manages/co-owns Ypsi Alloy Studios and acts as Vice-President/Co-founder of a monthly art walk, First Fridays Ypsilanti.  Her early work inspired a citywide festival, The Festival of the Honeybee, which brought to attention the blight of the Honeybee.  The festival has become a staple in Ypsilanti’s creative culture, and occurs every first weekend of September.

Ilana Houten
Credit Ilana Houten

Ilana Houten

Ilana Sola Houten is a co-founder of Ypsi Alloy Studios, LLC, as well as a sculptor who likes nothing better than to get her hands dirty and learn as many processes as humanly possible to bring her work to life.  She’s spent the last year on a health sabbatical, of sorts, while undergoing treatment for Neuroborrelliosis and 2 co-infections.  She’s currently back in the studio and focusing on a new body of ceramics work that explores the concepts of imperfection and acceptance.

Jessica Tenbusch
Credit Morgan Barrie

Jessica Tenbusch

Jessica Tenbusch is inspired by the animal and plant species that live near humans.  She explores the relationships between species and how they shaped her experience as a human animal.  Her work is an observation on our role as ecosystem builders and destroyers.  These works are fragments of our daily environment, showing just how close nature is in our everyday lives, embedded in our homes and neighborhoods.  In her childhood, she shared her home with a multitude of other animals and hundreds of houseplants.  Outside was always inside.

She loves to work in the spaces between two-dimensional and three-dimensional representation and uses color pencil, ink, acrylic paint, wood, metal, and found natural and man-made materials to create sculpture and works on paper. 

Jessica received her BFA in 2011 and MFA in 2014 from Eastern Michigan University where she concentrated in metalsmithing and drawing. In addition to exhibiting her work nationally, she is active in the local arts community curating shows and coordinating events.  She lives and works in Ypsilanti, Michigan.  Her practice is located within Ypsi Alloy Studios, a 3D arts studio she co-owns and runs with two other local artists.

Picture from Ypsi Alloy Studios
Credit Elize Jekabson

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at