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, 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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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was very interesting for me to read the blog. Thanks for it. I like such topics and anything connected to this matter. BTW, try to add some photos :).

5:04 AM  
Blogger Art Materials Trends said...

Congratulations on your 90th anniversary! If you want to send a small blurb with picture to me at, I will publish in the next issue of NAMTA's newsletter.

Rachel Gray

11:37 AM  

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