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, October 27, 2009

MFA PRINTMAKING at Illinois State University






The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Printmaking at Illinois State University (ISU) is a professional degree program consisting of sixty hours and it emphasizes both theory and practice in the production, history, and teaching of the visual arts. Participation in internship or apprenticeship experience is expected, and the exhibition and demonstration of the student’s competency and intellectual maturity are requirements for graduation. A written project and an oral examination of the intellectual implications of the candidate’s work are also required.

A typical program of sixty hours of graduate work beyond the bachelor’s degree will include courses in the studio arts, art history, internship / apprenticeship, electives and culminating experience (comprehensive exhibition of studio work, oral examination, and written project).


Candidates will be expected to demonstrate artistic proficiency in printmaking as they are encouraged to explore conceptual directions in the other media. In addition to the students’ concentration in printmaking, a broad range of technical and aesthetic criticism is provided by faculty members in the two-dimensional area of the School of Art. Expertise in printmaking, drawing, painting, photography, and video is provided by this area, which coordinates its efforts with the four other areas in the School (3-D [sculpture, glass, metal, clay, wood], Graphic Design, Art History [including Visual Culture], and Art Education).

The printmaking faculty is committed to individual artistic development and we direct our teaching methodology toward nurturing artists who learn to explore personal experiences, studies, and directions in their work. The faculty believes in providing a facility, an environment, and experiences that will encourage the student’s artistic development. The faculty strives to maintain a professional atmosphere in the organization and maintenance of the studios.

Visiting artists with diverse artistic backgrounds interact with the students through individual and group critiques, lectures, demonstrations, publishing, and research print projects. Visiting artist programs provide continuing interchange between the disciplines in the School of Art at ISU.


The intaglio studio is approximately 2,500 square feet in size. There are a 36" × 62" Brand etching press, a 16" × 30" Brand etching press, a 25" × 48" Takach etching press, an 18" × 36" Takach etching press, and a 43" × 84" Takach etching press. There are complete etching and aquatint facilities, adequate storage, and several glass-covered printing stations built into the shop. Substantial space and equipment, including a good selection of large rollers, are provided for experimental work as well as traditional approaches. The studio is equipped for copper and zinc etching, photo etching (using solar plates and Image-on film), monotype, and relief printing.

The lithography studio is approximately 2,500 square feet in size. There are a 36" × 60" Brand lithography press and two 34" × 60" Takach lithography presses, all with counter-weighted tympans for proofing and editioning. There are nearly two hundred lithographic stones available, ranging in sizes from 9" × 12" to 30" × 40". There is a 4' × 18' graining sink and six levigators. There are two stone / aluminum plate processing tables in the press room and another in the ventilation / exposure room. There are small and large diameter rollers, leather rollers, lightweight Takach platebases (30" × 40") and a wide variety of color inks available. Negative and positive working photo-litho plates are used. There is a special room for ventilating fumes during processing, which also includes an enlarger and a 33" × 42 ½" Nu Arc vacuum frame.

There is a complete letterpress facility with an electric Vandercook press, housed in its own room for student use. It is capable of printing 18" × 24" with type in a variety of styles and sizes available. The print area is currently developing its own computer facility and has an Epson Stylus Pro 3800 printer (which accommodates paper 17” wide) and an Epson Expression 10000 XL scanner (with a 12” X 17” bed) for graduate use. There is an additional computer facility just down the hall, which includes state of the art computers and software. There are black and white and color printers, 11" × 17".

The Graduate Studio Building is off campus, and it was created for all of the MFA students in the School of Art. This space has electric tools, a wood shop, and two large rooms set aside for installations and critique spaces. This situation allows the 2D and 3D students to interact with each other and the faculty.

The gallery space in the School of Art is unique. There are specially curated exhibitions by the director, Barry Blinderman and his staff, usually in Gallery I—the main gallery. Every other year there is a graduate exhibition in that space. The alternate year is the faculty exhibition. Every spring, Gallery I showcases the annual all student exhibition, and Galleries II and III have many student exhibitions during the year. All BFA and MFA students have one-person exhibitions to complete their degree requirements. An annual student exhibition in the spring calls for entries from all students in the studio and graphic design areas, with works selected by nationally known guest jurors.

There are other opportunities to exhibit in the community as well. The McLean County Arts Center and the Transpace Gallery (the latter is exclusive to ISU students) have regularly scheduled exhibitions. Also, Illinois Wesleyan University has a gallery and guest artists.

There are numerous major universities in the area. Chicago and St. Louis are about 2 ½ hours away and there are group trips arranged for special exhibitions.



The Normal Editions Workshop (NEW) is a non-profit printmaking workshop and research facility founded in Illinois State University in September 1976. This is an enrichment program for the education of our students. It augments the educational goals of the University and:

1. provides students an opportunity to work with and observe visiting artists within a professional workshop situation;

2. provides works of art for study collections and traveling exhibitions to promote visual dialogue among a variety of audiences;

3. provides custom printing services for artists throughout the United States (Kiki Smith, David Wojnarowicz, Arturo Herrera, Julia Fish, Sidney Goodman, Keith Jacobshagen, Donald Lipski, Dennis Oppenheim, Richard Rezac, John Himmelfarb, Hector Duarte, Rodney Carswell, and others);

4. provides advanced printmaking students the opportunity to participate in the NEW special projects class in addition to the Graduate Assistantship for NEW.

NEW has a 34" × 60" Takach motorized lithography press, preparation and printing areas, office space, print storage files, and a general work area.

NEW staff and student interns assist with the organization of the printmaking area’s annual print sale and exhibition, which includes prints by students and faculty in the School of Art. Faculty and student participation—and community involvement—are key elements in the ongoing success of the event. Most of the sales, which can total $5,000 or more, are paid to the artists / participants and some of the proceeds are donated to the program.


Richard D. Finch, Professor of Art (teaches drawing) and Director of NEW

MFA, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, 1976

National Endowment for the Arts Artists’ Fellowship (1983-84)

Illinois Arts Council: Co-Director Program Grants (FY97-10)

Illinois Arts Council: Artist Fellowship / Finalist Award (1993)

Veda Rives, Associate Director of NEW

MA, Illinois State University, 1992

BFA, Illinois Wesleyan University, 1981

Illinois Arts Council: Co-Director Program Grants (FY97-10)

Sarah Smelser, Associate Professor of Art (teaches intaglio)

MFA, University of Iowa, 1997

MA, University of Iowa, 1996

Mid-America Print Council President (2006-08)

Tim Van Ginkel, Visiting Assistant Professor (teaches lithography)

MA, University of Iowa, 2007

MFA, University of Iowa, 2008


A limited number of graduate assistantships are available in the printmaking area and in other areas of the School of Art. Graduate assistants maintain the printmaking studios and assist in teaching introductory courses in printmaking. Currently, the assistantship includes a stipend of $850/month plus a full tuition waiver. In addition, a limited amount of work-study funding is available for qualified applicants.

Scholarships and talent grants in the School of Art, which can total $65,000-$85,000 per year, are awarded to graduate and undergraduate students who exemplify the highest artistic and scholastic achievements. These scholarships and grants are awarded in the spring during the ISU Student Annual exhibition. The NEW Scholarship for outstanding artistic ability and performance in printmaking—based on portfolio review—is awarded also at that time.


Applicants should contact the Graduate School for admission procedures and requirements. Access information on the web at: and Email:

Address correspondence to:

The Graduate School

Campus Box 4040

Hovey 309

Illinois State University

Normal, IL 61790-4040

Telephone (309) 438-2583

Specific inquiries related to the MFA in printmaking can be directed to:

Richard D. Finch (309) 438-7530

Veda Rives (309) 438-7530

Sarah Smelser (309) 438-8535

Tim Van Ginkel (309) 438-7837

Becky Fisher, School of Art (309) 438-2728


2009 has been quite a year, and while it's not over yet, I feel compelled to at least begin a retrospective.

Susan and I have been traveling more than usual, and some of it was actually vacation for a change. It's not that we're workaholics, but in this industry, it's almost impossible to travel somewhere without running into printmakers, usu
ally without trying too hard.

January saw a last minute trip with friends to Orlando - and no, we didn't go to Disney World. Our friends are avid golfers and saw Orlando as heaven on earth. I, personally, think that golf is a four letter word. I was impressed with the fact that even the golf carts have GPS's on them. It's sad that my golf balls didn't have one too.

Later in the month, we were off to Frankfurt, Germany for the Paperworld show. This is likely the largest art materials show in the world, coupled with a larger office supply show, a beauty show and a Christmas's just huge. We managed to find several new products which you will (or in some cases, already have) find very interesting. New products include two lines of brayers from England along with several safety supplies, and a remarkable 3 in 1 tool set that serves as a plastic baren, cutting tool set, and hand stamper.

March brought the Southern Graphics Council show in Chicago, which had the best attendance of any SGC show ever.

May represnted a personal milestone, but one which many of you are probably grateful for. I decided to retire from the Illinois State Board of Education after almost 6 1/2 years. Served with three Governors (1 in jail, 1 headed that way, and 1 still with a clean reputation), three State Superintendents and 16 different colleagues on the Board.

Never one to let too much grass grow under my feet, I have already added two activities to fill the gap. I agreed to be appointed by the current Governor to the Education Funding Advisory Board, a board I served on from 2000-2003, and I have agreed to serve on the Midwest Regional Board for a non-profit group called Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic.

It's just never dull around here. September took us back to the IMPACT show in Bristol, England. This was the 6th show that they've had, and we've attended 5. In two years we'll be in Melbourne, Australia and two years after that it looks like Dundee, Scotland is slated for IMPACT 8.

The Fall has been busy for the family with weddings (my niece), births (nephew's wife) and a trip around the World (another nephew) We've got one more trip planned for November, and then by golly, we're staying home - at least for a little while.

Oh, I almost forgot the picture at the top. That's my youngest grandson. This fearless mountain climber got up on the counters in Mom & Dad's kitchen, got into the cinnamon, and then posed for the picture!