Graphic Chemical & Ink Company is a world leader in the fine art field of printmaking. We manufacture our own time-tested inks for etching, litho and relief printing, as well as sell screen print inks, papers, tools, chemistry, plates and supplies for all of a printmaker's needs

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Location: Villa Park, Illinois, United States

I have worked for Graphic Chemical & Ink Company since 1968 - with a brief hiatus(almost 4 years) to travel the World courtesy of my uncle. Sadly it turns out it was my Uncle Sam, and I wasn't too thrilled about the places that he chose to send me. My wife and I have run Graphic Chemical for many years, and have enjoyed the travel that comes with the position. We get to meet our customers (and the occasional vendor) from all over the World

Friday, September 30, 2005


I'm always amazed at things that I shouldn't be. I'm amazed that my taxes always get filed on time (rarely early, but on time). I'm amazed that politicians, of both parties, can get re-elected sometimes. I'm amazed that bumblebees can fly, but lately, I'm amazed at what people don't know about Graphic Chemical & Ink Company.

Recently I had a small display at a trade show, and was astounded, nay shocked, at the number of people who came up to me and began the conversation with," I didn't know that you carried ____________." You can fill in your own blank here, be it books, papers, plates whatever. Now the fact that they didn't know it means that I have failed at my job of making sure that people do know what's available from Graphic Chemical.

Books are a perfect example.

"I didn't know that you carried books"...but we have almost 30 titles that are specific to printmaking. We've screened these books so that we know they add something to the base of knowledge that printmakers need and want. The example shown here is a perfect one...The Contemporary Printmaker by Keith Howard. This book is the definitive work on non-toxic printmaking, a must for any printmaker's library. But, we also carry an excellent book from Henrik Boegh - Handbook of Non-Toxic Intaglio. This book has a slightly different approach to the topic. And, best of all, both books have accompanying videos, too! (I know, " You carry videos?").

Print papers are another area where we've not succeeded in letting people know what we have. Sure many - maybe most - of you have bought papers from us over the years. A good friend of mine, who is a paper distributor, convinced me several years ago that the paper line needed more offerings. Amazingly, he told me just what my wife had been saying for years, so I finally listened. Our paper selection has grown to one of the broadest ranges available anywhere with almost 400 different selections. I'd have given you an exact count, but I lost count about the fourth page of the catalog section. In addition to standard print papers, like Arches, Rives, Somerset and Fabriano, we carry our own outstanding paper - Graphic Heavyweight, a 100% rag, neutral pH sheet that is very affordable and very high quality. We also carry Digital papers, Rolls, Pads & Blocks.

This turned into a sales message, didn't it? Well, I'm amazed, but that's o.k. The bottom line of all this is simple - if printmakers use it, we probably carry it. If you don't see something in the catalog or online - ask us. We could easily have it in stock for immediate delivery

Thursday, September 29, 2005


When it comes to mission statements, I like to believe that the simpler the better. I was told once that the mission statement for MacDonald's was "to sell hamburgers". Whether it's true or not, it's simple, to the point, and understandable.

Graphic Chemical's mission is to sell ink. Sure we carry all of the other things that you, as a printmaker, need to create your artwork, but the bottom line is to sell ink. I once had a relative, who worked here, that didn't understand that making ink was not our goal. It's terribly important in achieving our ultimate goal, but it's a hard cruel world out there, and our existance, like that of any company, depends on sales.

With that in mind, we work very hard at producing the best inks around the world. In doing a rough count on recent customers (recent being within the past couple of years), I found 55 countries outside of the U.S. that we have shipped to. We have stocking distributors in almost half of those. We don't sell in all of these places without having an outsatnding product.

Recently, we had a chance to tour the primary manufacturing facility for Mercedes-Benz near Stuttgart, Germany. I was really trying to draw parallels between their manufacturing process and our own, but I really don't see them. We have no robots, no real assembly line, no high tech equipment, and precious little automation. What we do have in common with them is old world craftsmanship. Our inks are all made to exacting standards uising formulas that in many cases date back to our founding fathers (or in my case, founding gandfather). Inks are weighed, checked, milled and packaged by hand. Our newest mills are only 50 or so years old, but they do exactly what we want them to do - make high quality inks.

If you haven't done so already, check out our inks - you'll be pleasantly surprised at the quality and affordability, we guaratee it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

PRINTMAKING & POLITICS - a dangerous combination

Over 20 years ago, while doing the Southern Graphics Council show at Rice University in Houston, I was informed by a trade association that we belonged to that they needed a voice in Illinois' capital of Springfield. There were three of us that went down to the capital to discuss pending legislation that would impact the art materials business in general, and Graphic Chemical specifically.

State Capitol - Springfield, IL

Little did I know how that trip would change my life! A bill had been introduced in the Illinois Senate by Sen. Patrick Welch that would regulate the labeling of art materials in Illinois' classrooms. The concept of the bill was great, but the details were significantly different than legislation pending in two other states. Representatives from Graphic and Dick Blick met with Sen. Welch to discuss the ramifications of separate laws in each of the 50 states, and how difficult that would be for manufacturers. A model bill in California was in the final stages of approval, and could easily serve as the template for all states. Sen. Welch, to his credit, agreed with us, and the bill was rewritten and ultimately passed.

That first contact with the political system, convinced me to become involved locally on my school board - to insure that not only were our kids being exposed to art on a regular basis, but that the materials that they'd use wouldn't hurt them. 12 years later, I left that Board of Education, having served two terms as it's President, and more importantly overseeing additions to 80% of the buildings - additions that included a separate art room for each elementary school.

For two years after leaving the local board, I served as an appointee of Governor Ryan on the Education Funding Advisory Board. It was a great gig, and I think we made a difference, but it was more Finance than Education. I worked with great people and literally enjoyed every minute of it. Then I lost my mind and decided to run for the state legislature. Mercifully the voters in the 42nd House District were much more intelligent than I gave them credit for - they elected the right person to the job, and I could get back to educational issues.

Education is still my passion, but now I engage in that passion at a higher level, with, it seems sometimes, far less effect. I am currently the senior member of the Illinois State Board of Education - a political hack. I am senior not because of lengthy service, but because the current Governor fired 7 of the 9 board members in 2004. He was forced to keep two people and I was one of them, but I don't know if that was a good thing or not...only time will tell.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


At the request of a number of customers, we approached the famous Swiss manufacturer, Lascaux Colors & Restauro, about handling some of their product line. While the discussion took place over a period of months, we are pleased to announce that we have added these fine materials to our product line.

As always, my accountant is pleading with me to reduce inventory, not increase it, but it makes sense in light of our Mission to expand into this area. Our Mission statement is, " To provide all materials necessary for the fine artist to succeed in the fields of Etching, Lithography, Relief and Silk Screen."

Lascaux products include a number of resists (Grounds and Stop Outs) and removers, as well as a wide variety of tusches and lift grounds. In early October, we will be visiting the Lascaux plant in Switzerland to take a short seminar on the products. With any kind of luck, we'll be able to talk to you intelligently about their products and how they can be used best by our customers

Friday, September 16, 2005


We're back and I can't tell you how well I thought the IMPact IV show went. Special thanks to the show organizers and to Beauvais Lyons from The University of Tennessee-Knoxville for all of the hard work to pull this off. Approximately 300 artists were in attendance betwen the two venues - Berlin and Posnan.

I'm not sure what I expected with the product fair, but it exceeded my expectations by a long shot. While there were only six vendors (two from the U.K., and one each from the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and the U.S.) there was lots of interest in the products and services shown, and some great contacts made.

We've picked up some ideas for new products, and gotten great feedback from printmakers about existing materials. Our German brayers were once again a great hit - selling out within minutes of our allowing sales on Friday. It is gratifying to know how well know our materials are in Europe, but it is also an opportunity to insure that the products that we offer are the ones that printmakers want.

I haven't heard the final decision, but when we left Poland last week, it appeared that Tallin, Estonia was the likely spot for Impact V in 2007. The support of printmaking in Estonia - and specifically in Tallin is well known, and all of the vendors at the Product Fair are really looking forward to that event.