Trains, vandalism, paint and concrete walls are some of the first images that come to mind when people hear the word “graffiti.”
For Andrew Horner, a senior studying economics, however, graffiti has come to mean something much more.
“It means a lot to me that people like my art, not because I’m better than other people, but because it has my personality,” Horner said. “It has my personal energy and vibe. When people like my art, I feel like it compliments my personality.”
Over the past few years, Horner has become a professional graffiti artist, beginning his career in Rexburg, ID.
Horner said his first experience involving graffiti might have been when he was very young.
At the age of 7, he found a bottle of White-Out and started painting the play place at a McDonald’s.
Horner said that from there he has drawn graffiti on and off until people eventually started calling him a graffiti artist in high school.
After getting somewhat involved in the illegal graffiti art scene, Horner decided that, in addition to avoiding unwanted conflicts with the law, the illegal activity was not something God would endorse.
Horner said that rather than forsake his passion for graffiti art, he decided to start painting legally which turned into a profession.
In the beginning stages of painting professionally, Horner said he would offer his painting services for free if companies would sply the paint, but he soon found that he had better luck when he charged for the work.
“I tried to just go and paint places for free, just like, ‘Hey, will you pay for my paint, so I can paint your wall?’” Horner said. “Nobody took me seriously, and so I started charging and building a portfolio so that I could find places to paint, and I ended making a lot more money doing that than I was at my job at the time.”
Horner said one of his first jobs was at Graffiti Beauty Salon, a local hair salon on the west side of town.
Troy Gordo, the barber and co-owner of Graffiti beauty salon, said Horner’s artistic work has had a positive influence on his business.
“I was hesitant at first with graffiti, just because of the culture here in Rexburg, but it’s had all positive effects,” Gordo said. “If anything, I feel like it’s opened Rexburg a little bit more. People have been really excited about it.”
Horner said his experiences as a graffiti artist has helped him become comfortable with being uncomfortable and different events have pushed him to become better.
“I’m really comfortable with picking things that I have never done before, things that I am not used to or even comfortable with,” Horner said. “They’ll ask me to do it, and I’ll say, ‘yeah’ and then I’ll figure out how to do it later.”
Horner said that with the opportunity to reach out and meet new people he has tried to use different events as missionary experiences. He lets everyone he comes across know he is a Mormon.
Horner said an event coordinator in Texas and her husband invited him and his wife over for dinner.
The dinner went on for about four hours because they ended talking about the Church.
They asked Horner about some of the things he believes and why he is a Latter-day Saint.
“By letting people know that I’m LDS, I can be an example of the Church and open the door for conversations,” Horner said. “As a professional person, I can’t just go around and invite every person I see to church, but I really like to make sure every person I meet has the opportunity at least to know that I’m Mormon.”
Horner has been the recipient of several awards including the paint competition in Los Angeles sponsored by 33third, a graffiti art splies store.
He was also recently inducted into SpraTX, a collection of graffiti artists located in Texas.