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

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Another of the suppliers that I think you should know has been a friend of mine for ages. Tom Conrad, his father, uncle and several brothers have all worked in their family business, supporting Graphic Chemical & Ink and later Printmakers Machine Company since the early '60's. In fact, the families are so closely linked that when a relative of mine recently put old 8mm movies on to a DVD, there were several minutes right in the middle that he couldn't figure out. Turns out that it was a movie taken by n=my father at Conrad's machine shop back in the early '60's.

Conrad Machine Company has been a premier manufacturer of etching and litho presses since that time, first making the Sturges and Graphic Litho lines for Graphic Chemical. When Printmakers Machine Company bought the press side of the business in 1976, Conrad continued on as their machine shop.

The Sturges line of presses is the oldest press line in the United States, dating back to approximately 1917, when Lee Sturges, a noted printmaker, began making presses for himself and his friends.

One of Conrad's significant events was when they collaborated with Graphic Chemical to take on the production of the first-ever patented etching press in the U.S. - the Dickerson Combination press. When the Dickerson press was first made - by Ted Dickerson's brother-in-law - it was not as sophisticated as it could have been. Conrad Machine and Graphic Chemical together suggested a number of improvements in the way the press was designed and functioned, and in no time it was one of the best selling press lines ever!

The press is essentially the same today as it was in 1967 when the DC-2 was first made, although it no longer carries the Dickerson name. (It is now called the Printmakers Combination Press, model PC-2).

A number of years ago, Conrad Machine's plant was located almost squarely in the path of what would eventually become I-355, a highway linking Interstate 55 with the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. The Conrad families moved to their current location in Whitehall, MI where the winters are colder and snowier, but the fishing is significantly better.Tom and his wife Dorothy are very active in their community and church, and in the printmaking community as well. Tom currently serves as a representative of the vendors on the board of the Southern Graphics Council.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


To each of you that read this, especially those who are customers and friends, we want to extend to you a very happy, healthy, and, most importantly, a safe holiday season - whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanakkah, Kwaanza, Festivus or some other day.
Oh, yeah, a prosperous New Year as well.
Dean Clark
Graphic Chemical & Ink Company

Monday, December 05, 2005


So, now that I've opened the door on other suppliers, I need to be fair to our U.S. suppliers and competitors. The printmaking community is very fortunate to have vendors that are easy to get along with, and who will help each other at the drop of a hat.

Many years ago, I was at a trade show in Boston. A European customer that I'd been trying to sell to for years, came into the booth and asked me if the tools I was displaying were from E.C. Lyons Company. He was a little surprised when I responded that for the most part they weren't. At the time we used a combination of U.S., European and Far Eastern tool suppliers.

Less than ten minutes later a young man wearing an E.C. Lyons name tag appeared at my booth. (I should point out that I know he's a young man because he's the same age I am!) He immediately pointed out that I had a lot of tools on display in my booth, and that none of them were his. Right on both counts!

We began a discussion that afternoon about what it would take for Graphic Chemical & Ink to purchase engraving tools from him. In addition to our ages, Gary Owens and I have a lot in common, and the rapport was there immediately. Graphic Chemical's concern with the tools was never a quality concern - quite the opposite, we knew their quality to be second to none. Our concern was cost to our customers.

Through a process of negotiations, we got to a point where both of of us, and our customers could benefit. The size of our orders was the tipping point for Gary - and the pricing that he came up with was passed along to our customers. We literally carry everything that Lyons manufactures now, and 99% of it is in stock for immediate delivery.

Our first visit to their plant was a real experience. This poor old suburban boy from Chicago was in awe of the Bronx, where Lyons is located. Having served a stint with the Armed Forces Police Detatchment in Washington, DC, however, I was able to cope with the hustle and bustle of the North Bronx.

A little while ago, Gary told me that Law and Order SVU filmed a segment in their plant. I saw the episode, and it's a good thing that they told me that both Gary and his son Brad were in it, because I'd never have recognized either of them! One had on a protective suit and face shield and the other had only his hands visible. Still it was a paying gig, so who can complain? The brains of the operation, wife Sherill, may not have gotten the airtime, but I'm sure it was her that cut the deal with the TV moguls.