Partnership rolls out UW-Stevens Point RiverPoint Paper nationwide
What started as a collaboration between departments at the University of
Wisconsin-Stevens Point has expanded to a partnership with a major national
supplier of high-quality art papers.
RiverPoint Paper is now being marketed by Strathmore Artist Papers. The
Strathmore brand of artist papers has been used to create art for more than 120
“The agreement brings a new range of fine art papers to market and provides
an additional revenue source for several Wisconsin companies,” said Paul
Fowler, director of the Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology. WIST
had been involved in the development and marketing of the paper along with
other UW-Stevens Point departments.
“The stars aligned,” Fowler said. “A private company from Wisconsin came to
us. They saw an unmet market need for great-value, high-quality paper. We were
able to meet the need, not competing, but facilitating.”
Strathmore is a division of Pacon Corp. in Appleton. Pacon is a leading
producer and marketer of paper products for education, including construction
paper and other teacher resources.
Strathmore representatives contacted WIST last winter, inquiring about
collaborating on two additional grades of printmaking art paper. Gerry Ring,
retired Paper Science and Engineering Department chair, narrowed a list of
pulps in various fiber types, then worked with Strathmore and UW-Stevens Point
colleagues to develop the new grades of non-cotton paper.
“They liked the fact that they didn’t have to put the money upfront developing
it,” Fowler said. WIST focuses on research and development of sustainable
products and processes, working with industries to bring them to market. Fowler
sees it as a pump-priming role.
The original RiverPoint paper is branded as 500 Series RiverPoint Cotton
Printmaking and will continue to be made exclusively at UW-Stevens Point on its
paper machine. It anchors the new line of printmaking papers from Strathmore
Artist Papers. The new grades, Strathmore 300 Series Lightweight and 400 Series
Heavyweight, are made by a Wisconsin paper mill.
“Anytime new grades of paper are manufactured in Wisconsin, paper mill jobs
are retained or created,” Fowler said. “We wanted to ensure this was a
A $1.45 million UW-System Economic Development Incentive Grant made this
possible, he said. It funded enhancements to the pilot paper machine for
specialty paper and packaging and included the development of two additional
grades of paper.
UW-Stevens Point will receive royalties on paper sold during the next five
years, which will be reinvested in educational programs and infrastructure. UW-Stevens
Point will continue to make its cotton fiber grade of RiverPoint Paper for
student use on campus as part of the agreement.
RiverPoint Paper was born after UW-Stevens Point Art and Design Professor
Bob Erickson asked Paper Science and Engineering colleagues if they could make
fine art paper. The Paper Science and Engineering Department is home to the
world’s fastest student-run pilot paper machine.
His goal was to create a high-quality archival art paper at an economical
cost for students. At the time they were paying about $5 per sheet for a French
cotton fiber paper.
Art faculty provided paper samples and described what they needed. WIST and
Paper Science and Engineering produced paper in small trial runs, which art
students and faculty tested for quality and performance with various media.
After several tries, an art paper was created that met needs for performance,
texture and strength specifically for printmaking.
RiverPoint Paper was so well received by UW-Stevens Point art students and
faculty that WIST began making it available more widely in 2013. Interest in
the new paper led to a collaboration with Strathmore Artist Papers to market
and distribute RiverPoint and to develop the additional grades of paper.
UW-Stevens Point art and design students provided artwork for consideration
as the cover of the Strathmore papers. Strathmore representatives selected art
by UW-Stevens Point student Lanea Zagrezebski of Rudolph for the 300 Series
pads. Art on the 500 Series is by UW-Stevens Point graduate Shawn Ganther.
Their names and UW-Stevens Point are credited on every retail pack.
“It’s a true partnership,” Fowler said.
Strathmore will market the paper throughout North America and the complete
line of printmaking papers will be available at fine art and craft stores and
chains to meet growing interest in making prints.