Stevens Point, Wis. — A problem has turned into an opportunity – and produced a new, economical art paper for student and faculty use – thanks to a unique collaboration between departments at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Visual arts students in UW-Stevens Point’s College of Fine Arts and Communication require a special art paper to handle the inks and processes they use, and the art paper is expensive. Meanwhile, the university is home to the fastest student-run pilot paper plant in the country, used for classes in the Department of Paper Science and Engineering (PS&E) and also for paper development and production runs by the university’s Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology (WIST). The pilot machine is ideal for materials studies and small developmental runs.

The three units worked together to develop an economical, archival art paper. The paper had to be versatile enough for use in a range of printmaking and drawing applications. Under direction of WIST and PS&E faculty, students made a series of trial runs on the pilot paper machine. Working on a real-world problem provided a great learning opportunity for the students. By May 2012, they had produced a 100 percent cotton paper with the qualities needed. Since then, students and faculty in visual arts have used the paper in all sorts of projects and have been very happy with its performance.

The collaboration has been so successful the group decided to introduce the paper to the market through WIST. The Design Center in the Department of Art and Design coined the name, RiverPoint art paper, and put together marketing packets for the new paper. The paper made its debut in March at Print:MKE, a design conference in Milwaukee, where PS&E and visual arts students hosted a trade-show booth and gave away samples of RiverPoint. Response from attendees was very positive, resulting in a number of orders. WIST is now marketing the paper to educational institutions and the general public. Paper sales will support research and education at UW-Stevens Point.

student printing with art paper

UW-Stevens Point visual arts student Bradley Trotter prepares to make a print on RiverPoint art paper.