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Rising Stars Awards

Meet the 4th Annual Rising Stars of Screen Printing: Josh Whitlow

He started printing stickers by moonlight five years ago – now his side hustle is something greater.

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Meet the 4th Annual Rising Stars of Screen Printing: Josh Whitlow
Josh Whitlow
Print Maestro / Moonlight Sticker,Branham Sign Co. – Columbus, Ohio

@whitfolio on Instagram

Q: You are involved in a local artist group Lookout Supply and are a regular contributor to their Art Nights and regional events. Can you explain your involvement and how it has impacted your personal and professional lives?

JW: About five or so years ago I came across this group of various artists at a local event (mostly fine artists, spray painters, muralists, tattoo artists, and a couple of screen printers, etc.), one of them being Justin Withrow who had just opened this small artist supply shop called Lookout Supply. These artists and I would buy our art supplies from this shop, and the cool thing was along the side/in the back we were allowed to spray paint the dividing wall between the shop and the house next door, so it was fun getting to learn how to spray paint at the shop you actually bought the supplies from (something I had never experienced before). We also started doing something called Art Night, which essentially was just us artist friends getting together every Thursday evening to do whatever art-related stuff we wanted (drawing in our sketch books, painting on canvas, spray painting on the outside walls, etc.).

Sometimes it was a free-for-all, sometimes there was a theme to the art for the evening, but it was always a fun time.

A few years ago, Lookout Supply re-located to a much bigger space with a large back lot and big walls making up the sides of the building, which was perfect for spray painting artwork/murals on as well as hosting art-related events for the public such as Art Markets and Lookout Jams. Very recently, Lookout Supply has also begun hosting art exhibition shows for local artists that have an opening night and occur every month. I have contributed three art pieces to two different exhibition shows comprising multiple artists.

I have forged lasting friendships with various local artists through Lookout Supply, I have learned and improved upon my artistic talents, I have been fortunate enough to also financially benefit from my artwork, and hope to continue to do so moving forward as a proud member of the Lookout Supply crew.

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Q: Why is it important to be a leader and to give back to your team and your community?

JW: Being a leader pushes yourself to make you want to be better not only for yourself but to also better those around you (especially in your community), and it’s extremely important that we are able to support others to help bring out the best in all of us so we can all live our best lives. It’s not so much “giving back” as it is just giving period. Putting yourself out there, taking risks, making mistakes and learning from them, overcoming obstacles, all of these things make us better leaders for others in our communities to admire and be inspired by. Being inspired by others and being able to inspire others through a strong sense of leadership is an essential foundation for growing a strong community of individuals living up to their full potentials.

Q: How/why did you start Moonlight Sticker Supply? Why do you use screen printing to print the stickers?

JW: Funny enough, Moonlight Sticker Supply came about mostly through accident. At first, I never actually intended on screen printing stickers for anyone other than myself. I started screen printing my own custom graphics on T-shirts as early as 2014, but the cost of screen printing multiple designs on multiple T-shirts that I wasn’t even planning on selling was just a bit too high. (Though I still do screen print some apparel from time-to-time and do have future apparel projects currently in the works.)

I then tried experimenting with screen printing and spray painting flatstock posters, which was pretty fun and far more cost efficient, but still wasn’t quite what I was looking for. While doing screen printed T-shirts and posters I had also started ordering some stickers of my own custom artwork via online sticker companies and had gotten some good feedback from doing so. So, this, combined with my discovering several talented screen printers who were also screen printing stickers via online social media and having the support of Leber Design & Print, who have graciously allowed me to screen print out of their facility, was the primary inspiration/motivation I needed to begin screen printing my own stickers. I screen printed my first stickers in 2017 and haven’t looked back.

I’m little self-conscious about my sticker printing capabilities, so I was a bit hesitant to print stickers for anyone other than myself, but as I began screen printing my own stickers and handing them out to people, they began asking if I could print them some stickers, so I decided to do so.

More and more people began ordering stickers from me. I thought that at the very least I could turn this into a fun side-hustle that could fund itself while allowing me to support my own personal sticker printing endeavors, but if I was going to continue to screen print stickers and expand my operation then I would need some sort of brand to represent this, thus Moonlight Sticker Supply was born (MOONLIGHT = (a) All of my sticker printing is being done via moonlighting + (b) my perpetual love of science fiction, STICKER = self explanatory, SUPPLY = I supply said stickers + I also liked how it sounded in LOOKOUT SUPPLY, so thanks!

Q: Your nomination form states: “In 2014 Josh started as a designer and entry level screen printer eager and ready to learn with no knowledge of the specialty printing industry. By 2017 he was the Production Artist for a very high-volume contract print shop that produced for some of the largest fashion brands in the U.S.; with a full knowledge of simulated process separations, ink management, and real life, on press experience. Since then, he has grown even more taking over as Production Artist for a high-volume digital print shop and has taught himself the ins and outs of digital machines and signage substrates.” What do you consider your greatest accomplishment to date?

JW: This is an interesting question and took a lot of reflection on my end, but in all honesty, I believe that my greatest accomplishment to date would be my screen printing stickers. I love doing it, I love turning my artwork into stickers and giving them to people / seeing people react positively to my work, I love being able to print stickers for other artists and bring their artwork to life, the whole experience is just something I really wasn’t looking for but ultimately I was able to find and I’m eternally grateful for it. My only hope is to continue to screen printing stickers, continue to push myself and my printing techniques forward, continue to be inspired, continue to inspire others. There’s a lot more work I want/need to do, but I can’t wait to see how far my growing talents will take me.

PHOTO GALLERY (14 IMAGES)

Adrienne Palmer is the editor-in-chief of Screen Printing and Big Picture.

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