MEET HENRY LEVISON
Our story begins with Henry Levison, a color chemist who lived, drank, slept and breathed artist’s colors. Henry ran a company in Cincinnati, Ohio called Permanent Pigments which had been milling artists' oil colors since 1933. He was keenly following the latest technical advances and experimenting with new formulas in the acrylics field. Acrylics were first developed as a solvent-based artists’ color in the early part of the twentieth century. By 1955, Henry had perfected a commercially viable water-based acrylic - the first acrylic gesso, called Liquitex, a perfect blend of liquid and texture.
A NEW ERA OF ACRYLICS
Henry is at it again, this time launching the world’s first water-based acrylic, Medium Viscosity Artist Color. We also partner with Garo Antreasian for our first artist collaboration, working with him to road-test Liquitex colors during a mural commission at Ohio University.
INNOVATION AND EDUCATION
Liquitex High Viscosity Artist Color is developed in 1963. This formula has an oil paint-like consistency and is the world’s first heavy bodied, water-based acrylic color. Gel Medium is launched in the same year. By 1965, we’re educating. The Liquitex Lecture Demonstration Program begins, delivering the first artist to artist program in colleges and universities in the U.S. A range of acrylic tips & techniques literature is developed to accompany the session. In 1967, we create the world’s first removable acrylic varnish, the forerunner of today’s Soluvar.
PAINT THAT STANDS THE TEST OF TIME.
At the start of the decade, Henry Levison unveils the first machine to test paint for lightfastness, changing the way paints are formulated and selected. In 1971 we launch the art world’s first acrylic cadmium replacement colors (renamed cadmium ‘Hues’ in 1980), as well as Slow-Dri Medium.
CREATING A SAFER STUDIO
Liquitex becomes the first paint to switch to modern glaminate tubes. These easy-to-open tubes are made of seven airtight laminated layers of plastic, metal and paper. They replace all-metal tubes, which are prone to corrosion and cracking. In 1984 Liquitex is the first paint to be labelled for ASTM standards, for toxicity, quality and lightfastness. The following year, we create the Liquitex Studio Arts Advisory Council - a group of influential artists and educators who meet once a year to discuss the needs of art students, professional artists and art educators. Liquitex Fabric Medium arrives on the scene in 1986.
In 1988, we lose our founder Henry Levison after 81 years of innovation, creativity, and pushing boundaries.
PUSHING BOUNDARIES AND SUPPORTING ARTISTS
We start the new decade by launching Flow Aid, a new acrylic additive, followed closely by Liquithick™ and a range of texture gels. In 1993 Liquitex Basics arrive. This is the USA’s first high quality fine art acrylics for beginners and students. Airbrush Medium launches soon after. In 1996 we set a new industry benchmark by unveiling a new resin system for all our color and mediums formulations, pushing acrylic technology forward with the most advanced color clarity, brilliance, and longevity. That same year Liquitex launches the USA’s first award for artists living with HIV/AIDS, designed to celebrate and support individuals and raise awareness in the wider community.
FLUID ACRYLIC AND SPECIAL EFFECTS
We celebrate our 50th anniversary with new colors, new packaging and a range refresh. Two of our original paints change their names – Medium Viscosity becomes Soft Body, while High Viscosity becomes Heavy Body. Our chemists are busy inventing new formulas in the lab, resulting in the iconic Liquitex Pouring Medium, String Gel and Palette Wetting Spray. In 2008 super fluid acrylic Inks! (now known as Acrylic Ink) are introduced, giving artists a new way to create with acrylics.
“I’M ONLY HAPPY WHEN I’M TRYING TO CREATE SOMETHING NEW”
Keeping Henry’s inventive spirit alive, we enter a decade of newness. We launch specialized large-scale brushes for artists working in large format. In 2012, studios around the world can breathe easy as we launch a fine art, low-odor Spray Paint range, made with water-based technology and artists' pigments. A year later, our chemists adapt our acrylic paint to a pen format with the launch of Paint Markers, (now known as Acrylic Markers). 2017 sees more lab innovation as we unveil cadmium-free Heavy Body colors, the world's first true performance-matched alternative to cadmium. Acrylic Gouache, our most matte range, arrives on the scene in 2018 alongside a new bottle design for our fluid paints, a fresh new look for all our ranges and store fixtures, and more cadmium-free colors in Soft Body and Acrylic Gouache.
We continue to serve as a platform to curate, support, and amplify artists’ stories through our artist residency programs in the U.S. and London, as well as our partnership with Sing for Hope.
ON TO THE NEXT
As we entered the 2020s, we celebrated 65 years of innovative acrylic materials. We look to the future with purpose, believing in the power of creative expression to create a better world where artists and communities can thrive. We're empowering our communities. Innovating our products and packaging. Creating better business practices.
In 2023 we became a certified B Corp, and our first SUSTAIN product launched: canvas made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. 80% of our wood and paper products are now Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. 20% to go. We introduced Basics Acrylic Fluid, the Basics range of creative surfaces and a capsule of studio apparel and accessories. Our global artist collaborations and community support projects are as busy as ever. Just imagine what the future will hold.