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

Monday, November 05, 2007


Another IMPACT show is, as they say, in the can. Our journey to Tallinn, Estonia was interesting, to say the least, eventful, and enjoyable. Our trip began with a flight from Chicago to Copenhagen, Denmark followed immediately with a four hour train trip to the city of Aarhus on the Jutland peninsula. By the time that we arrived in Aarhus, we were pretty well exhausted, but fortunately our hotel was across the street from the train station. This was not a coincidence. SWMBO (pronounced Swimbo which stands for She Who Must be Obeyed) makes the arrangements, and does a great job in making my life easier.

The following day we began the process of calling on our European distributors, starting with our good friends Aart & Kari at Aart de Vos Aps in Aarhus. After a great visit with them, we rented a car and drove to Leiden, Holland to visit Hugo Bos and his wife Marit at Polymetaal. By the time we got to the hotel in Amsterdam, we were thoroughly whipped. Traffic in the Dutch city was nightmarish even after midnight when we arrived. Bicycles have the right of way, they know it and use it with impunity!

Additional stops included Rotterdam, Brussels, and Aartsellar (the current home of our oldest European distributor - J.M. Lesaffre PVBA) A quick drive back to Copenhagen, and a flight to Stockholm and on to Tallinn, Estonia.

We arrived in the capital of Estonia in the late afternoon before the show started. A frenetic drive from the airport was provided by the Hotel Reval Central - a delightful and surprisingly affordable hotel in the center of town. Susan and I hooked up with a couple of the other vendors for dinner in the Old Town. Estonian food, for the record, was quite good. On Friday morning, we set up at the Kumu museum, a very modern museum a stone's throw from the former czar's palace and the current home of the President of Estonia. Over 200 artists were registered for the show, and all of them seemed to make their way to the product fair. The number of vendors was disappointing, but the quality was great. The five of us included three Brits, a Finn and me.

The following morning, Susan and I were off to Lithuania to visit relatives for a week. We also met with printmakers at the Academy of Art in Vilnius, and a number of independent printmakers at a nearby atelier. If you noticed the picture at the top of this post, this was a 200+ year old painting that was being restored by a dedicated group of Lithuanians trying to restore the myriad of churches in the capital that were left to decay by the former rulers from the Soviet Union. You see there the picture as it was when restoration began.

Here you see the master restorer (a phrase I have just made up) at work on the delicate masterpiece. This picture is what I like to refer to as the "After" photo. I have professed for a number of years that I wasn't a talented artist, but of course, you can tell from the after photo that I was just being modest. Of course if you looked really closely, you might observe that the brushes actually have no paint on them. It's a new technique for restoration that I call "don't screw up what the professionals have done", and it works really well in my opinion! This will hang in a cathedral in Kaunas, Lithuania in the relatively near future.

Finally, the trip home was incredibly long (almost 10 hours from Zurich, Switzerland to Chicago), and was highlighted by sitting next to a 14 year old Russian hockey player with what appeared to be a severe case of ADD. I felt like I had played a game against him and lost - badly. His team was coming to Chicago for a series of matches against U.S. youth teams. So, we're back and happy to be so - until the next trip.


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