BLICK History


How It All Began

Built on innovation and creativity, BLICK is a company of firsts. Dick Blick's first catalog originated in 1911 in the form of a small pamphlet issued by the company's founders, Dick and Grace Blick. Our first product was a lettering pen, the Payzant, which quickly became a bestseller. The Blick's first warehouse was their kitchen, and their first shipping department was the Galesburg, Illinois post office where they would send out their daily shipments.

As an advertiser and show card writer, Dick Blick traveled frequently from Galesburg to Chicago to study the newest designs in window displays and merchandise. While shopping in 1910, he noticed an odd-looking craftsman pen and immediately had the idea of adapting this pen for those in his trade. After developing the writing tool, news of the Payzant was picked up by popular publication, The Dry Goods Economist, and word spread quickly. The pen sold well and shipped fast, as Dick Blick fulfilled orders each and every day from the attic of his home complete with a typewriter, an ordinary kitchen table, and his stock of lettering pens ready to ship.

Determined for success, Blick soon added other familiar advertising industry items including sign writing products, paintbrushes for signage, and other lettering tools. He later added paints with additional colors, poster paper, inks, cardboard, and just about everything both the traditional and sign artist would need. Above all, he made sure his quality art supplies were always available for immediate shipment.

Today, we are in our third generation of family ownership and have become the largest and oldest provider of art supplies in the United States. Our products cater to the full spectrum of artists — from a child scribbling with a crayon, to art students in training, to well-known art professionals. Our excellent customer service, extensive selection, and competitive prices make us the best choice for seasoned and new artists alike including art educators, architects, designers, students, and hobbyists.

BLICK Milestones Timeline

  • blick-timeline-1911


    Dick and Grace Blick begin the company starting with sales of the Payzant Pen.

  • blick-timeline-1933


    BLICK's iconic "Running Man" is created to represent the company's promise of being "the fastest shipper in America."

  • blick-timeline-1948


    Robert Metzenberg purchases the company from Dick Blick, becoming the company's "second founder". The family-owned business is now in its third generation.

  • blick-timeline-1950


    BLICK's original Masterstroke brushes are promoted and become a success.

  • blick-timeline-1956


    The Grand Avenue warehouse is constructed in Galesburg, IL.

  • blick-timeline-1961


    BLICK celebrates its 50-year anniversary.

  • blick-timeline-1974


    The first BLICK retail store opens in Galesburg, IL.

  • blick-timeline-1984


    BLICK's annual catalog expands to 400-plus pages.

  • blick-timeline-1997


    BLICK launches its first website.

  • blick-timeline-2001


    BLICK's state-of-the-art distribution center is built in Galesburg, IL.

  • blick-timeline-2004


    BLICK acquires The Art Store chain of 11 retail stores.

  • blick-timeline-2007


    BLICK implements ACE program focusing on safety, attendance, quality, and productivity to serve its expanding workforce.

  • blick-timeline-2011


    The Art Media store in Portland, OR and the Primary Art store in Savannah, GA are acquired. A mural commemorating BLICK's 100-year anniversary is given to the City of Galesburg.

  • blick-timeline-2012


    BLICK makes its 10 millionth customer order.

  • blick-timeline-2013


    BLICK acquires 40 retail stores and paint manufacturing facility from Utrecht Art Supplies based in Brooklyn, NY.

  • blick-timeline-2015


    BLICK opens a third distribution center in Monroe Township, NJ to better serve east coast customers and retail stores.

  • blick-timeline-2016


    BLICK achieves Great Place to Work® certification for the first time in the 2015-2016 year. It continues its commitment to increase associate satisfaction and attract top talent.

  • blick-timeline-2017


    Highlighting unique associate talent, BLICK continues to invest in the Artists Serving Artists program and launches the first Associate Art Show to connect our team's artwork with creative customers.

  • blick-timeline-2018


    An industry first, BLICK adds a range of cadmium-free oil colors to its Utrecht line, and later adds acrylics and watercolors.

  • blick-timeline-2019


    BLICK receives certification as a Great Place to Work®, achieving this accomplishment for five consecutive years.

  • blick-timeline-2020


    BLICK offers Curbside Pick-Up at retail stores across the country as an option for shoppers to get the supplies they need quickly.

  • Blick History Newsweek2020 339 x 218


    BLICK is voted #1 Best Online Shops across 1,000 companies and Best Customer Service by Newsweek.

  • blick-timeline-2021


    For two straight years, BLICK is voted among America’s Best in Customer Service and Best Online Shop by Newsweek.

  • V1 Newsweek BlickTimeline 357x230 copy


    BLICK is voted #1 Best Online Shops across 1,000 companies and Best Customer Service for a third consecutive year by Newsweek.

  • NewsweekAwards23 339 x 218 History Banner


    Blick is voted #1 for Best Online Shops and Best Customer Service for Arts & Crafts for the fourth consecutive year by Newsweek.

  • Blick History GPTW23 339 x 2184


    BLICK is certified as a Great Place to Work® for the sixth year. The prestigious recognition is entirely determined by employees' real-time experience of working at BLICK.

  • Blick History Newsweek2024 339 x 2182


    BLICK is voted Best Customer Service and Best Online Shops by Newsweek, achieving five-year champion status in the Arts & Crafts category.

  • Blick History Utrecht 75 339 x 2183


    Brooklyn-based Utrecht celebrates 75 years of providing the highest quality artist's paint, mediums, canvas and more.