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, January 27, 2010


At the request of our friends at Ohio University in Athens, OH:


The Graduate Printmaking Program at Ohio University usually has between 8 -12 graduate students, as part of approximately 55 - 75 total within all disciplines in the School of Art. Students have the opportunity to work with 30 full-time artists/professors and a considerable number of visiting artists to OU. The faculty/printmakers are comprised of five active artists working in a variety of media: Art Werger, Melissa Haviland, Mary Manusos, Robert Lazuka and Karla Hackenmiller. Facilities in Seigfred Hall include separate studio spaces for etching, lithography, serigraphy, papermaking, photo processes, and digital. Among the shop equipment are four etching presses, three litho presses, a large-scale relief press, large format digital printers, and a Hollander-style beater. The School also has a woodshop available to all students with a well-versed technician for student projects. We have a great relationship with a new, leading-edge facility on campus - the Aesthetic Technology Lab ( where our students have access to state of the art digital equipment including a 3-D Motion Capture suit, green screen, 42" digital printer and 42" plotter, 3-D Scanner, and high-end software programs. The School of Interior Architecture will soon be integrated into the School of Art, which will also provide extended possibilities for students.

Our graduates have personal space next to the printshops and also have the opportunity to apply for an individual studio at the Ridges complex, about a mile away from Seigfred Hall. Within this complex is the new ³PrintSpace² ­ a shop reserved for grads and art faculty. Next to this facility is the Kennedy Museum of Art (, which has a well-regarded print collection and rotating exhibitions. The School of Art maintains three galleries on campus and has ties to additional space at Majestic Galleries in Nelsonville. We have regular visiting artists (within Printmaking, as well as in the School); and the printmakers, as a group, attend the Southern Graphics Council and Mid America Print Council conferences each year. In the fall of 2008 our graduates presented a panel presentation at MAPC in Fargo; and in 2006, our program hosted a successful MAPC conference in Athens. In the spring of 2010 we will present our third "Inkahoots" event, a large outdoor printing activity on campus that involves visiting artists as well as the local community.

While we hold traditional printing in high regard, we allow our grad students a great deal of flexibility in the materials and processes that they use to create their work. Our current grads are working in various media, including three-dimensional handmade paper pieces, installation, mixed media print & drawing collage, video, and painting -- in addition to more traditional methods in intaglio, litho, screen, monotype and relief.
The School of Art encourages experimentation, research and collaboration across disciplines. Students can also earn academic credit through Service Learning opportunities in the community; and also through our Travel Abroad programs in Great Britain, Hungary and Italy.

This is a three-year MFA program during which graduates take a variety of studio, art history, and theory courses in the first two years. The third year is the "Thesis Year", and involves independent, focused studio work without regular coursework obligations. This work culminates in a Thesis Exhibition. To get to this point, the student must pass through a series of rigorous reviews by their graduate committee, beginning in the second quarter of their first year. We have scholarship and assistantship money available on a competitive basis. Currently all of our Print Grads have a full tuition waiver and are receiving full or half stipend funding. Our TA's usually gain teaching experience in both Foundations and Printmaking classes during the second and third years of the their program.

We invite interested applicants to schedule a visit to our Program to meet the faculty and current grads, as well as to see the facilities. Please take a look at our website:,
and feel free to contact us for any questions that you might have.

athens, ohio 45701

Sunday, January 24, 2010


The calendar year is behind us, and in many ways it's a good thing. 2009 probably won't go down in the business Hall of Fame as a bright star, but it was a pretty good year all things considered. Graphic Chemical sells to a lot of schools - a lot of state schools, and and in case you missed it in all the papers - most states are bordering on bankruptcy.

Our own fine state - Illinois - is only $9 Billion in debt (or $12 Billion if you believe the loyal opposition). Our sainted Senator from the '50's and '60's, Everett McKinley Dirksen, fondly known as "old liver lips", was once quoted as saying, "a million here and a million there and pretty soon you're talking about real money!" So, we've established that states are woefully lacking in disposable income. We all know that in the grand scheme of things, art programs tend to be on the low end of the totem pole. So, one could safely assume that art material suppliers, like say Graphic Chemical, might not be having the best of years.

Interestingly enough, 2009 was our best year ever in one important invoices processed. Now a lesser man than I would claim great personal involvement in that number. Realistically, however, we had little to do with it. The total number of invoices is a direct reflection on you as customers, and to a lesser extend the fact that we care a great deal about earning and keeping your business. For that we extend our heartfelt thanks to each of you.

Like most printmaking suppliers, we are a small operation - a family oriented company. Like most families, we have our eccentrics - me for example. I was, for all intents and purposes, raised in the printmaking world. During spring and summer breaks from grade school, I canned, labeled and shipped Sureset Compound. I made Dutch Mordant when I was still in high school. I learned that there was a right way and a wrong way to cut zinc and copper plates between high school and college and I learned during all of that period that sodas were free at Graphic (which accounts for a good portion of my weight gain during that time).

This has been a great industry to grow up in, and while I never assumed that I'd stay here, I've never regretted spending the past 38 years working in Villa Park. You and the rest of our customers have made it a great ride, and I look forward every day to new challenges. I'm not going anywhere, at least I hope I'm not, but don't be surprised if you get other family members on the phone more often than me - I'll be too busy planning the next business trip or maybe even a vacation or two.

Oh yeah, the picture at the top of the page. One of our customers, a lithographer among other talents, recently got married. His wedding ring, pictured above is a nice gold band with a black stripe recessed in the center of the ring. That black stripe is made from Senefelder's Crayon Black litho ink! Now that's one dedicated lithographer!

Monday, January 04, 2010


For reasons known only to the liberal media, the new debate is what we will call this year, and by extension all years remaining in the century. In the past three days, I've heard no less than half a dozen talking heads going on about the proper terminology. While I have an opinion, the real answer is...who cares?

As we enter into the second decade of the 21st century, we also begin a year long celebration of the 90th birthday of Graphic Chemical & Ink Company You all probably know the story by now - founded by my grandfather in 1920, fast forward to 1948 (is that nineteen forty eight or one thousand nine hundred forty eight?) when my father began working here, fast forward again to modern times and either 1968 or 1972 depending upon how one calculates when I began my tenure here. I suspect that in 10 or more years someone will be going on at great length about the 100th anniversary and choose to gloss over the years from 1968 or 1972 until whenever I get around to retiring, but for now you get the history of the company from my point of view.

As many of our baby boomers will recall, the sixties were a turbulent era highlighted by sex, drugs and rock and roll. Fortunately where I was during the sixties was still mired deep in the fifties. Graphic on the other hand was expanding into a complete line of litho products. For many years we had produced excellent inks for litho, but the availability of high quality stones was somewhat limited. During 1968, the first of many trips to the quarries in Solnhofen, Germany was completed and a strong working relationship with the quarry directors was begun. This relationship is as strong today as it was over forty years ago.

Screen Printing supplies were available prior to that watershed year, but th
e selection was pretty weak. My recollection of the storage shelf was that it contained 5 or 6 quarts of ink, one of which was a pretty pathetic pink that ultimately was given away. In late 1968, we began expanding that line, and that expansion continues today.

Photo Intaglio was effectively non-existent - we sold almost a full case of presensitized zinc in 1968 - that was less than 30 sheets. Today, with the advent of numerous types of plates and techniques we sell more in a week than we used to in a quarter. Instead of being limited to one type of zinc, we now offer positive and negative working zinc and copper, as well as positive working steel, Photopolymer plates including Solar plates, polyester Pronto Plates, and ImagOn HD film which can turn any plate (or surface) into a presensitized surface.

Papers have cha
nges in so many ways over this period. In 1968 we probably offered 20-30 different types of paper. Today, the number is in the hundreds. Our most recent effort in the paper world is the addition of relief papers from the Far East - Japanese, Thai, Bhutanese, Napalese, Vietnamese and many more. We have attempted to fill the gap left when one of the top paper purveyors in the country - Aiko's - closed its doors a few years ago.

The list of innovations and changes goes on. We are very proud of the place we have carved out for ourselves in the printmaking world. The one thing that we can never be, however, is complacent. Every year we research, test and market new products to make your work easier or more productive. A good percentage of our new product ideas come from printmakers. We listen pretty carefully, and while we don't add every product suggested, quite a few do make the cut.

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