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

Saturday, November 26, 2005


When you get involved in the supply side of the art materials industry, there are some simple facts of life that you learn about, often the hard way!

There are some stock phrases that you tend to pick up depending upon the circumstances. With my manufacturing friends the buzz is "creating jobs", as in the government doesn't create jobs businesses do. With my politician friends (yes, some of them are friends, even the nice lady who beat me in the primary!), it's all about "meeting payrolls" as in "he's a politician, he's never had to meet a payroll!". There are others, but I'll spare you the hyperbole.

One of the facts of life for a business such as ours are trade shows. I am always surprised by how few some suppliers go to, and how many others do. I met a guy from a well-known catalog supply house years ago who did over 30 trade shows a year! For the record, I once did six and it almost killed me!

There are actually two types of shows, and I'm combining them in this commentary. There are trade shows, which are exclusively for the suppliers in the trade. This would be a show like the National Art Materials Trade Association (NAMTA) show which is open to art supply retail stores. The NAMTA show in 2006 is going to be in Boston, MA in late April. There are also consumer shows like Southern Graphics Council, Mid-America Print Council or IMPACT. Sandwiched between these types of shows are shows (technically trade shows, I guess) that have a limited audience like the National Art Education Association show (Chicago in 2006), and the various state art ed shows.

Graphic generally attends most, if not all, of the ones mentioned above. There are very few printmaking suppliers that attend shows beyond the print-specific shows, but we believe that we need to preach to the masses about the beauty and value of prints.

If you are aware of an appropriate show in your area, please let us know. We're always willing to pack up the booth and throw it in the van.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


About 8 years ago, while calling on distributors in Europe, I stumbled across a manufacturer of printmaking equipment that you should all get to know....Hugo Bos from Polymetaal in Holland.

I was in Antwerp, Belgium, calling on an art supply store - Papermill on Lombardenstrasse, right in the heart of the old city. The owner of the store, Jacob Bentjes, was giving us a tour when we stumbled across three etching presses in the rear of the store. Wishing only to be polite (my wife says I need to work on that), I asked Jacob if he manufactured the presses.

His response was brief and to the point," No, Hugo does." He walked to the telephone, dialed a number, spoke briefly and handed me the phone saying," Here's Hugo." In all fairness, I really didn't want to talk to him. I wasn't looking for a new press line, I already sold two of the best between the Sturges and the Conrad presses.

Hugo invited us to visit his shop the next day on our way to Amsterdam, which we did. Polymetaal had an interesting plant - quite spread out, but seemingly efficient. There were a number of really unique products there, including rosin boxes and rim-exhaust tray systems. I was taken by the quality of all of their products, and the fact that they offered things not available elsewhere. Obviously a lot of thought had gone into products and customers' needs.

Graphic Chemical and our sister company Printmakers Machine arranged a distributor agreement with Polymetaal, with Printmakers selling the presses, while Graphic Chemical sells the other equipment. As I write this, the Euro is hovering near all-time highs, but even so, the products from Polymetaal are affordable, and in many cases in stock in Villa Park.

Polymetaal presses and equipment may not be as well known here in the U.S. as they are in Europe and the Middle East, but they are rapidly gaining recognition for both quality and affordability in this country. Between Graphic Chemical and Printmakers Machine there is a huge range of presses, trays, rim exhaust vent systems and rosin boxes. This line perfectly compliments our own lines of equipment. Check it out!

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005


A few weeks ago, I attended a workshop put on by Robert Adam and Carol Robertson, a pair of Scottish printmakers with a winning style. Robert and Carol have collaborated to write Screenprinting - the complete water-based system, published by Thames and Hudson, and available from Graphic Chemical & Ink (prod. no. 70740 - $24.95).

Unfortunately, like many books written outside the U.S., they have focused on suppliers in Europe, although a handful of U.S. sources are listed. Despite the fact that Graphic Chemical is one of just two Lascaux distributors in the U.S., they fail to mention us in any of their sourcing information. Oh well, that's just the way it goes - I may feel like the poor step-child, but we'll get over it. Hopefully in the next edition.

The book is actually quite well written. It focuses on both the historical perspective, and the how-to aspect of screen printing using water based materials. From screen preparation to reclaiming the screen Robert and Carol really give a hands on discussion that can benefit every screen printer from the rank amateur to the seasoned professional.

With clear step-by-step instructions and 265 illustrations, most in full color, this book explains and describes all the methods and materials that replace traditional toxic screenprinting systems, covering every stage of the printing process and opening up new areas of creative possibilities.

Robert Adam and Carol Robertson worked at the renowned Edinburgh Printmakers Workshop for nine years. They now have their own studio, Graal Press and teach at the Wimbledon School of Art.

I highly recommend the addition of this book to your printmaking library.