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Ohio State alumnus channels writing passion in work and play

Ryan Horns is the communications specialist at the Ohio State Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and performs with his band, Paper Airplane, on the side. Credit: Courtesy of Ryan Horns

When Ryan Horns, 2000 Ohio State alumnus, began his undergraduate career, he was certain he loved music and writing, but uncertain of what his future would look like. Since then, Horns has created one in which he could do both.

By day, Horns is the communications specialist at the Ohio State Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and by night he writes and performs shows with his band, Paper Airplane.

“From an early age, I spent most of my time writing stories and songs in my room, thinking I wouldn’t do anything with creative writing,” Horns said.

The beginning of Horn’s career was focused on journalism, writing stories for notable media outlets such as MTV, Columbus Alive and the Marysville Journal-Tribune. He became fascinated with the mixed media aspects of communication, and writing stories transitioned into writing songs and creating videos, Horns said.

“Everybody needs writers and artists to turn the story of their work into something the reader can understand,” Horns said.

In 1997, he formed his first band, The Last Hotel, which allowed Horns the freedom and opportunity to intermix music and writing as a vocalist. Horns said being in the group taught him how to juggle multiple projects while managing a band.

The Last Hotel changed its name to Paper Airplane in 2008. The group took a break from performing music and recorded two albums, “Who You Know” and “Othello,” Horn said. They performed at festivals and filmed two self-made videos, most recently releasing a music video for their single “Too Many Words” in August 2018.

Antonio Garza, drummer of Paper Airplane, describes the band as melody-driven indie rock.

“One thing about Ryan is he is always, always writing music, at least since the time I’ve known him,” Garza said. “I don’t think you could ever stop Ryan from writing new songs, that’s just kind of what he does.”

When he’s not writing music, Horns manages the online content for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His role is to share the stories and work of current students and alumni through articles and multimedia pieces.

In 2018, Horns was awarded the Outstanding Service “Above and Beyond Award” by the Engineering Staff Advisory Committee.

Betty Anderson, associate chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said Horns has brought great and positive change to the public relations of the department.

“All of a sudden as soon as Ryan arrived, we started seeing our department featured in articles everywhere, all the time,” Anderson said. “I learned more about the department from reading Ryan’s articles than I learned from being in the department.”

As an undergraduate student, Horns feared the possible reality of being a broke artist or writer, but asked himself, “Why don’t I do what I love and write?” So, he declared a major in creative writing.

“It took understanding that what I was doing is what I enjoyed, and at some point, you have to look at yourself and say, ‘This is what I want to do,’” Horns said.

Paper Airplane’s music, as well as its newest single, “Sidewalks Falling from My Feet” can be streamed via Spotify.

 

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