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, December 31, 2007


I have borrowed the following from the website of Aiko's Art Materials of Chicago. It was announced recently that Aiko's will be ceasing operations in the very near future. Although Aiko's is technically a competitor, we have both referred customers to each other for years. It is with true sadness that we bid farewell to this remarkable company, and wish their staff the best in the future.

Mrs. Aiko Nakane (1908-2004), the founder of Aiko’s Art Materials, was instrumental in bringing handmade Japanese paper and it’s aesthetic to the United States. Born in Seattle in 1908, Mrs. Nakane attended high school in Japan and was exposed to such traditional crafts as shodo (calligraphy) and ikebana (flower arranging.) She recalled the daily household use of Japanese paper whether to simply wrap a gift or to present an item of food at a meal. She liked to tell of the time her mother tightly rolled a piece of paper to tie her daughter’s hair back when a ribbon or hair band could not be found.

In the early 1950’s, back in the United States as a student at the Art Institute of Chicago, Mrs. Nakane would give Japanese art supplies and papers as omiyage (gifts) to fellow students and friends in the art community upon returning from trips to Japan. Her friends loved the items and clamored for more – thus the beginning of her store, Aiko’s Art Materials.

Since the mid-1950’s Aiko’s Art Materials has provided both supplies and services to its customers. What began as a small concern for a select few in the Midwest has gradually evolved into a global business with orders routinely shipped out to distant destinations in Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa. Yet, in spite of this expansion, Aiko’s still provides that personal, distinctive style that has been a hallmark of the store since its inception.

Specializing in washi (handmade Japanese paper), Aiko’s carries hundreds of Japanese papers, plain and decorated, which make up over ninety-five percent of the inventory. An infinite variety of colors, textures and designs is displayed – enough to tempt every imagination with endless possibilities. The shop serves artists, bookbinders, painters and crafters and those in book and art restoration and conservation.Brushes are another important aspect of Aiko’s Art Materials. Over one hundred different types of brushes can be found in the shop. They are made up of materials ranging from badger and horsehair to sheep and weasel hair. All shapes and sizes specially formulated for use, be it calligraphy, brush painting, stencil dyeing or painting can be found at Aiko’s. The majority of the brushes are handmade and produced in Japan.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Wow! I looked at my backlog of articles waiting to be published on the blog, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, it wasn't Santa and eight tiny reindeer. It was absolutely nothing, I've run out of pithy little pieces about the printmaking community, Graphic Chemical, or the world in general.

I asked myself, whatever can I talk about that won't bore the socks off of my friends? Then I said, who cares, I'll regale them with vacation stories. Well, since I rarely take a true vacation, how about the latest business trip with a little vacation mixed in? I am blessed with having a remarkable wife - she tolerates me most of the time, and she loves to travel. Not only that, but she usually makes all of the arrangements from booking flights and hotels to contacting the appropriate customers that we're going to call on.

People tend to like her, which gets me in a lot of doors that might otherwise be closed to me. She spend months getting everything in order for the Estonian trip in October. Everything went without a hitch - or at least we thought is was going without a hitch until the nice police officer In Brugge, Belgium suggested that I should find somewhere else to drive. When I tried to get out of his way, I managed to find another street that was closed to me. For the record, cops yelling in Flemish sound very similar to cops yelling in English!

It has been suggested to me that I dispense with the travelogue and cut to the chase. We truly appreciate all of you who read this blog, and even more, we appreciate our customers. Without you, we are nothing. Our mission is to serve your printmaking needs in any way that we can. During the Holiday Season, it is appropriate to take time to thank each and every one of you, and wish you the happiest of Holiday Seasons, no matter which holidays you celebrate.

So, from everyone at Graphic Chemical & Ink, Stones Crayons and Printmakers Machine Company, we wish you happy holidays and a safe and prosperous New Year.

Monday, December 03, 2007


There is a certain fraternity between ink makers in this country, probably in part due to the fact that the number of U.S. owned ink companies is relatively low.

When it comes to printmaking inks, that number drops even lower - to almost scary proportions. One of the reasons that there are so few ink manufacturers for this important field is that the total volume of business is relatively small comparatively speaking. The commercial side of the business is a substantial market with billions of dollars per year in sales.

One of the things about printmaking inks that always seems to need explaining is what is meant by an "oil based ink". Apparently this congers up a mental image of an oil well pumping black gold from the ground. I'm not sure why that is, but inks used by printmakers use linseed oils not petroleum products as their base. During an OSHA inspection years ago, a misguided federal employee believed that she had stumbled on the mother-lode of safety violations when she saw some of the names of materials that we use. Of particular interest was the oil used in the inks - she had visions of citations running through her head. Needless to say she was disappointed to learn of the safety procedures that we go through to insure the safety of the products we sell. Many of the products she was preparing to cite turned out to be food-grade materials!

The point of all of this is that the materials that you purchase either from Graphic or from most other manufacturers specializing in printmaking materials are safe, and they generally carry the ACMI Seal to prove it. That seal insures that an independent toxicologist has reviewed the formulas of the inks, and certifies that they are safe to use and non-toxic. In the case of a handful of products (grounds, stop outs etc), the certification is that the product is labeled properly for the hazard involved.

Trust the ACMI label as your assurance that your materials have the highest level of quality and safety.