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Rising Stars Awards

Meet the 2020 Rising Stars Awards Winner: Scott Kelly




Scott Kelly

Scott Kelly
Screen Printing Department Manager, Kotis Design, Cincinnati, OH

1. How did you enter the screen printing industry?

I entered the screen printing industry in 2011 while in college. My roommate and I decided one weekend we would get a Speedball Starter Kit from Michaels to try and print our designs we made in class. I fell in love with printing that weekend and haven’t looked back since. In Orlando, my roommate and I would work on weekends cleaning screens at local shops and asking for payment of more education on inks. I moved back to Ohio and started Push Pull Studios in 2014 in the Over-the-Rhine area of downtown Cincinnati, focusing to only print with water-based inks. I slowly grew in the area and printed for 90 percent of shops and restaurants in OTR. I also mentored interns from the Art Academy of Cincinnati on printing. Having the interns helped me discover my passion for teaching and coaching printing. Frustrated with struggles of small business, I took over shop manager of My State Threads in January of 2018, which was a company that printed with all water-based inks.

Scott Kelly's T-shirt designs

2. Your nomination form, from Tim Fisher, Chemical Consultants, states you have made Kotis Design “a greener printer by incorporating water-based inks. He has written policies and procedures needed for his workers to also succeed.” Why are you an advocate for water-based inks?


I learned how to print with water-based ink in 2011 and knew nothing about plastisol inks. I stepped foot in my first Plastisol shop the summer back from college and hated everything about it. When you’re coughing while scrubbing a screen clean in wash out, when you choose to wear gloves in fear of the press wash chemical possibly touching your skin, why would you not be an advocate for water-based inks and the sustainable practices that come with it? Most of all, there’s no comparison to the quality and feel of the print with water-based inks.

Kotis Design has production warehouses in Utah and Ohio with screen printing in both locations I oversee. I was excited to get hired at Kotis Design because of what the company stands for and the culture they have built when it comes to sustainability. The number one core value of the Kotis culture is “Fight for Better.” I was hired on and it was a good fit when we talked about sustainability in a print shop. During this pandemic, we are updating procedures and practices to even more sustainable levels than they were before. The least amount of chemicals, the better for everyone.

3. Tim, your vendor of certain supplies, also says you always ask him the right questions. “His honesty, desire, and willingness to explore new products and techniques are why I like to have him as a customer.” Why is education and growing within the industry important to you? How has this helped advance Kotis?

The industry as a whole has advanced so much in just the nine years I’ve been printing. Growing in the industry is important to me because I love to be ahead of the curve, as much as a print shop can be, to keep up to date with industry trends.

Education is important to me now more than ever as I oversee all printing at two print shop locations. Keeping consistency between the two shops is on me. I have to educate staff on the best practices and why we use them. Those practices have processes that we follow at both locations to keep all prints the same way.

4. What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment to date?


Running my own shop was very rewarding. I could go out to breweries, boutiques, or restaurants and sell them on water-based printing for their swag and tell people I made that shirt. That was a lot of fun. Now I get to do that on a larger scale, which happens to be a nationwide scale. My current role at Kotis is my greatest professional accomplishment to date. When I closed the door on Push Pull, I told myself I would love to get the opportunity to take over a shop and help them switch to completely water-based inks. I recently landed in my current position.

Watch video below.



Let’s Talk About It

Creating a More Diverse and Inclusive Screen Printing Industry

LET’S TALK About It: Part 3 discusses how four screen printers have employed people with disabilities, why you should consider doing the same, the resources that are available, and more. Watch the live webinar, held August 16, moderated by Adrienne Palmer, editor-in-chief, Screen Printing magazine, with panelists Ali Banholzer, Amber Massey, Ryan Moor, and Jed Seifert. The multi-part series is hosted exclusively by ROQ.US and U.N.I.T.E Together. Let’s Talk About It: Part 1 focused on Black, female screen printers and can be watched here; Part 2 focused on the LGBTQ+ community and can be watched here.

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