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, May 28, 2008


There is a great controversy today regarding the No Child Left Behind act. The act was due for reauthorization in 2007, but given the political climate, it could be several years before reauthorization occurs, if it ever does.
What that means is not that the law goes away, but rather it continues in its present form until 2014. The present form is probably more of a problem than many people think because, in my opinion, it takes a great idea, and lets the government deternmine how it is implemented.
A couple of years ago, a good friend from college that now teaches in Tennessee sent me a great e-mail called "NCLB football" explaining how the concept of No Child Left Behind would affect the game of football. For example, all kids would play football, but coaches would only work with the kids who weren't as skilled as their teammates. Football would be played year-round, but scores would only be kept in 3rd, 5th, 8th and 11th grades.
The end of this e-mail was a somewhat somber statement that I have stolen repeatedly for speaking engagements. It is," Remember that if no child is left behind, it's because no child is getting ahead."
Now, a colleague of mine has forwarded a new, far more timely e-mail regarding the subject. Tom Chapin, a well known recording artist has come up with a presentation on the fate of the arts under NCLB.
Please click on the following link to access the performance of Not On the Test.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


The following was blatantly stolen from my good friend Brenda Welburn, the executive director of NASBE, the National Association of State Bords of Education. It has nothing to do with printmaking specifically, but the topic affects the quality of our education system nationwide.

Horace Mann, the father of public education in America, chaired the first State Board of Education in the United States in Massachusetts. He believed the “common school” would be the true equalizer for all Americans and used his service on the State Board of Education to focus the attention of state leaders on the intrinsic value of public schools. In 1839 he presided over the establishment of the nation’s first public school in Lexington, Massachusetts. During his tenure, fifty high schools were established across the state; not because he had the power of the governor or the budgeting authority of the legislature, but because he had a passion for educating all students.

I wonder what Mr. Mann would think today about the legislation that is making its way through the Vermont assembly to abolish the State Boards of Education, or for that matter the countless efforts by several governors to eliminate or diminish the public’s participation in public education governance. There are proposals in at least 10 states to reduce the authority of Boards, if not to eliminate them all together. The arguments are as inevitable as the proposals; “accountability should be in the hands of the governor”; “business leaders are dissatisfied with the slow progress of education reform”; “the majority of the Board was appointed by someone from another party, someone who doesn’t share the political views of the current governor.”Interesting how this line of reasoning focuses on power, influence and authority, not on the zeal embraced by Horace Mann for determining first what is good for all students, and then how providing a quality education of those students would benefit the country. We are inundated by state leaders with the challenges of global competitiveness and the importance of rigor, less frequently do we hear about academic relevancy or why students are disengaged.

The model of independent lay boards was developed to insulate education to the extent possible from politics. It had merit in 1837 when Horace Mann became the first State Board Chairman and it has merit today. The variety of views and perspectives from across a state informing the policymaking process benefits every child in the state. Four years before the Wallace Foundation identified school leadership and the role of the principal as a cornerstone for educational reform, State Board Members identified this as a critical issue and requested a NASBE Study Group on the topic. Before Governor Warner successfully led the National Governors’ Association’s initiative on high schools, State Board Members participated on a NASBE Study Group on the crisis state of the American high school.

As institutions State Boards are not perfect, as individuals State Board Members have flaws, but the same can be said for governors and legislatures and the solution is not to abolish them to improve the quality of governance at the state level. Governors and legislators should concentrate on how to strengthen and improve State Boards of Education, not eliminate them. Least we forget, it was a State Board Member who had the vision for public schools for all.

Brenda Lilienthal Welburn
Executive Director

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

NAMTA 2008

For over 40 years, almost without exception, Graphic Chemical & Ink has exhibited at the National Art Materials Trade Association (NAMTA) show. For reasons that I'll probably never understand, I chose not to get a booth this year, choosing rather to walk the show floor rather than exhibit.

NAMTA is an organization that is geared to the art supply retailer. Most of the exhibitors, including Graphic Chemical, are manufacturers of quality art materials. The show is only open to the trade, so most artists cannot get in the door. I can go on at great length about that particular situation, but suffice it to say that the majority of the members of this group would disagree with my position regarding allowing artists/educators to walk the show and provide manufacturers with input about new products.

Several years ago, I chaired the Art Educators committee of NAMTA. Our charge was to find ways to improve the interaction and communication between manufacturers, retail stores and artists. A number of suggestions were made and rejected as too risky to the industry, and the committee no longer exists.

Anyway, this year's show was held in Reno, NV, and while it seemed smaller than past years shows, I have no doubt that it was quite successful for most of the attendees. We have actually identified several new suppliers and a number of new offerings from some of our existing suppliers. Watch the blog for information on these products in the next few weeks. One product that I am excited about is a new size lino block - a 10 x 20" size that promises to be very popular.

Renewing acquaintances with our friends in the industry is always great fun. At the President's Reception, Susan and I were joined by Gary & Sherrill Owens of EC Lyons, and Martin Lawrence of TN Lawrence in England at the Reno Antique Car Museum. Unfortunately, the kind gentleman that we asked to take the picture below, was apparently visually impaired or so it would seem from the cut off heads of all the men.