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Interview With Mike Horn

By Damion Wolfe, December 2003

Beyond the cornfields, Amish jokes and shopping outlets of Lancaster County there lies another aspect not oft seen, and that is the people. Many of them of German heritage and with a quiet exterior, armed with a sharp wit and warm heart. There is a truth to the slogan "you've got a friend in Pennsylvania" because I've had the fortune to make many there in my travels as a singer/songwriter and Mike Horn is one of them. Mike is probably one of the most generous people I've ever met. He's the kind of guy that is almost always there to support a show, sending out emails about other people's events, and graciously allowing me and others the use of his "Hornswylde Mansion" when passing through town, and for various shin-digs. But in addition to all of this he is also webmaster of me and many, a book-preservationist, painter/muralist, trivia show host and cartoonist.

As a webmaster Mike designs and maintains sites for Curtis Earth, Yours Truly, Center City Deli, etc., etc. He has a full time job at Franklin And Marshall College as a Book Preservationist. He does murals for people's houses and businesses, and hosts two trivia shows a week in Lancaster County. Over the years Mike has done some great work that he has begun to assemble pictures of on his site: WWW.HORNOGRAPHICS.COM. One of the many great things about Mike's web-designing is that he maintains originality from site to site. None of the sites look too much like the other and he does a great job customizing each site to each individual need. As a cartoonist Mike did a lot in college. There is even talk of some them being published soon.

One of the amazing things about Mike is that he is able to maintain a huge creative output along with a constantly filled schedule. He barely has enough time to come home and pet his cat before he's off to the next task. Despite the fact that Mike is the busiest man in Lancaster County he always seems to maintain a ubiquitous presence. He's always available to help someone out and be there if you need him. He's so busy helping out others with his talent that he doesn't even have time to finish his own personal work sometimes. He has an unfinished mural in the walkway of his house that has been there since I first met him! Mike is truly a talented man with a big heart. How does he do it all and not go crazy? Mike took time out to answer some questions about this and other things. But first please check out Mike's website at: WWW.HORNOGRAPHICS.COM or drop him an email at horntobewild@Hotmail.com if you would like to ask him a question about maybe designing a site for you or various other sundries.

Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome Mr. Michael Horn!

1. How did you first get involved in doing murals and sketches? Do you have any formal training?

I remember doing sketches of Snoopy and Charlie Brown when I was eight years old, so it began with cartoons. My parents let my brother and I paint temporary pictures on the mirrors and vestibule doors for Christmas. And then I started painting cartoons in my bedroom during high school. I had art instruction in high school and a drawing class in college, but I'm mostly self-taught.

2. How did you first get involved in designing web-sites?

I started playing around with HTML when I first got a PC in 95. The first site was a bare-bones list of pix of my murals (the precursor to hornographics.com). Then trivia quizmaster Curtis Earth was looking for someone to take over his site, and he promised to feed me well.

3. You work at the Franklin & Marshall Library and do all of your art work, web-design and trivia on the side. Would you like to envision this becoming full time work and being totally self-employed? If so or if not, please explain why.

If I could get over my fear of not having a steady paycheck and benefits, maybe. Gotta pay the mortgage on Hornswylde mansion, you know. Who would be crazy enough to be a full-time performer, any way?

4. As we've mentioned, you are a trivia host, webmaster of numerous sites, visual artist, local PR guy and book preservationist. Please tell us how you maintain your stamina and still remain creatively inspired through it all?

Forgoing sleep frees up eight hours a day. Of course, it causes system crashes in which I go into a coma for three days. Creativity is a slippery fish best served cold. (See what I mean, I'm starting to crash already). What I meant to say is creativity comes and goes in sudden bursts. Being around other creative types helps it to visit more often, though.

5. What is your favorite part of being a visual artist?

The "A-ha!" moment when a work comes together. You can be slogging along through a piece thinking that it will never work, and then suddenly it all comes into focus.

6. What are your goals regarding your murals, sketches and web-design for the next few years?

I would like to complete a mural in my home that was supposed to be unveiled three years ago. An outdoor small scale mural might be nice. Have a single panel cartoon published. Continue to work on my caricatures for the American Cancer Society project. Learn web animation software so we can have a spinning Damion on the site.

THE TEN

1. What was your favorite childhood toy?

Hot Wheels. And their airplane equivalents, Hot Birds, which no one remembers.

2. Do you think the U.S. Government is conspiring to assasinate all web-designers whose initials are M.H.?

Yes! I've seen the secret dossier. But first they are busy attempting to squash the careers of musicians whose initials are D.W. (That's why Donnie Wahlberg turned to acting)

3. What artist/entertainer, dead or alive, would you most like to sit down and share a lager with?

I'd say Dean Martin. He'd have plenty of tales to tell, a large bar tab and hordes of Golddiggers.

4. Who would you rather be stranded with on a deserted island, Ginger or Mary Anne?

Have you seen Tina Louise lately? Definitely Mary Anne.

5. What artists have most inspired your artistry?

Gary Trudeau (my old comic strip was a direct rip-off of his style); Winsor McCay; N.C. Wyeth; Maxfield Parrish.

6. Would you consider dating a bi-sexual Hooters chic?

Sure! She probably makes twice as much in tips and would be well-endowed (cash-wise, that is).

7. What advice would you give to up and coming artists?

The more you do it, the easier it gets.

8. What was the name of the first girl you ever held hands with?

My next door neighbor Eileen, although I had the hots (or whatever a six-year-old gets) for her sister Theresa.

9. Have you ever considered giving it all up and becoming a mullet designer?

No. I had already reached the pinnacle of mullethood with my own back in 1990. Why mess with perfection?

10. What inspires you most in life?

Probably the idea that if you are given a gift, it is your duty to share it with others. We're all here to help each other muddle through.