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

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

CWS -Winning Ugly is back in style!

Forty Six years ago, the Chicago White Sox (the other team in Chicago baseball) went to the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was, I believe, the first time a California team played in the World Series. Last Saturday night, the White Sox returned for the first time since the Fall of 1959, to play the Houston Astros - the first team from Texas to play in the Series. The Sox won game 1 in both series. Fortunately, that's where the similarities end, since Los Angeles won in 1959 four games to two. As of this writing, The White Sox are ahead 3 games to none, with tonight's game possibly being the last.

The interesting thing to me is that all of Chicago is pumped up about this. Even my nephew, John, who is, due to what I believe is a genetic flaw, a Cub fan asked me if he should be cheering for the Sox as a matter of civic pride. Before I could provide the necessary guidance, he rephrased his question. He asked me if the Cubs were playing in the series, would I be pulling for them? The answer, of course, was no! If you know anything about Chicago, a true fan cannot support both teams - it just can't happen. My two favorite teams in baseball are, after all, the White Sox and whoever is playing the Cubs that day.

So what has this got to do with printmaking? As Edwin Starr said in his '70's hit War....absolutely nuthin'! I've been a White Sox fan since 1952 when I went to my first game at old Comiskey Park (the Sox beat the A's), and haven't had too much to crow about over the years, so I hope you'll forgive my enthusiasm. I promise no more about baseball until they win the World Series.

editors note: The White Sox won game 4 by a score of 1-0! There is joy in Mudville after all and for a short while, Chicago is second city no more.

Friday, October 21, 2005

ARE - The New Order

This past week, Susan and I attended a workshop put on by Lascaux Products - a workshop on A.R.E. (Acrylic Resist Etching). As many of you know, we have added a number of the Lascaux products to our line, so it was time to go learn about them!

The workshop was run by Robert Adam and Carol Robertson, two artists from Scotland, who are dedicated to healthy studios, and healthy artists. With the help of Lascaux, they developed a system of acrylic resists and washes that are really impressive.

Those of you who have seen my artistic ability would be amazed at the ease with which I was able to prepare a soft ground and aquatint plate, add a hard ground to an area and do a traditional line etch, in a matter of 30-45 minutes. Well, most of you would correctly suspect that Susan actually did the artwork, but I supervised a little. Everything about the project was acrylic - washed up with soap and water, from the plate backing solution to the degreasing.

While I will stipulate that it's not great art - she did a good job considering my supervision. (Some would call it second guessing, but not me!).

In the top photo you are seeing the application of the Stop Out Resist, after a Soft Ground has been applied and the leaf and feather (left side) were run through the press. Next an Aquatint Resist was applied, and then finally the Hard Ground Resist was added to the right side of the plate.

One of the best things about this system is that you can with relative ease have a truly Transparent Hard Ground, A Black Hard Ground, or a White Hard Ground in a matter of minutes. With the number of artists that are interested in White Grounds this is going to be an important addition to the line.

The Aquatint Spray was such a kick to apply, that we are researching air brushes in order to provide them for the beginner who wants an easy way to apply this resist. Robert and Carol have done a great job in presenting easy ways to do some great things without risking one's health.

BLOG RULES - A Noun, not a Verb

Back under the posting entitled Amazing things, I should have listed what I find truly amazing! The thing that really gets me is the number of people (most of whom wouldn't know a limited edition print if it bit them) that feel compelled to comment on topics of such vital interest to printmakers as the North Korean politicians' sex lives and the like.

I'm slow but consistent. Once I figured out how to delete these comments, I do it with a vengeance. You might as well save your fingers, because if the comment isn't printmaking related, I'm gonna delete it. Even those of you who throw in the occasional stroking of my ego - it's still gonna go.

Having said that, I noticed that one of the down sides to blogging on this site ( is that you can easily travel from our Blog to another one. Well, it's a downside when you figure that we'd like you to stay with us. But I was wandering around the other day and found the next site. I don't recall what the primary mission was, but apparently this guy does a fair amount of traveling and had listed some links to various sites including a place called ExOfficio which sells lightweight travel gear. I just ordered some things for an upcoming trip, and I'll try to remember to let people know how it works out.

By the way, the picture above has absolutely nothing to do with my comments - it's obviously not a print, but I'm always impressed with public art. This one is located near the Union Bldg at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


When I write these things in the middle of the night, I tend to be much more philosophical than I do in the light of day.

This year has been a challenge for manufacturers around the country, and it's been a particular challenge for small manufacturers. This has never been more true than in the art materials business.

I am very involved in the National Art Materials Trade Association (NAMTA), and have been for years. I currently chair the committee on Art Educators. I believe that Art Supply stores need to do a better job in educating their customers - particularly art educators - about what's available in the marketplace, and how it's used. Manufacturers, including Graphic, need to do a better job of reaching those consumers with new product offerings. And consumers, including art educators, need to do a better job of supporting those in the supply chain for art materials.

I read various printmaking related bulletin boards on a regular basis. Those of you who do likewise know that I am a frequent poster on these sites. While I am not shy about making people aware of products from Graphic Chemical, it isn't my intent to use these forums as an overt advertising tool. I am very concerned, however, that artists in general, and printmakers specifically are doing themselves a disservice in their buying habits.

You can and should look for the best product at the best price available, but you need to be aware of the unseen price that you pay for some items. Anytime a supplier offers you a product at or below the manufacturer's list price, you feel like you've hit the jackpot, right? Well, the manufacturer - someone like Graphic Chemical - has had to discount that product to your supplier in order for that to happen. That discount is a direct reduction of profit.

No big deal, you say! They'll make up for it with a high list price. Well, think about that for a minute. You could still end up paying more for the product in that scenario, but would feel better about it because you got it for less than list. In our case, we don't inflate list prices because the majority of what we sell is going directly to the end user.

The bottom line is that for the sake of convenience in the short run, your purchasing habits will (and already have) affect the long term viability of small manufacturers. Oh, we forget about them shortly after they disappear, but when I look back at our competitors that have left the market in the past 35 years, it's staggering and scary.

No small manufacturer can survive for long without the full support of the customer base it has developed. Our job in the supply chain is to offer quality products at affordable prices. Using Graphic Chemical as an example, reluctantly, we could and should, vastly curtail the number of items that we offer - focusing only on the most profitable items. Maybe that means only one or two offerings of each color of etching inks, perhaps only 3-4 sizes of zinc plates and 10 or fewer varieties of paper. It shouldn't make that big a difference to you. You could get by with the reduced product line - but would you want to?

My point is that it costs money to inventory all these items. Overhead is incredible The cost of state and federal regulation is staggering, and, of course, health insurance is off the charts. Think about these things the next time you purchase online. Many of the online outlets are not manufacturers, some have no overhead, pay no taxes, no payroll to meet, and contribute nothing to the community. Is saving a few cents worth the risk of losing a Graphic Chemical, a Charbonnel, Lyons or Speedball?

I hope the answer is "no"!