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Ciril Horjak - TEDxLjubljana - 23/4/2010

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Well, if you're recording this, we might as well start with: once upon a time in a town called Ravne na Koroškem. It's a great start. Once upon a time in Ravne na Koroškem, there lived two brothers named Ciril and Metod. This were me and my brother. We were twins. Very different from each other, but at the same time very alike. We were utterly lucky because we we spent a lot of time not only playing in the woods and reading books, but also in our grandpa's workshop. He had this fantastic workshop, where he trained us to pick up screws from the ground, we were welding bicycles there and making marvellous chandeliers. My grandpa was namely a locksmith and an engineer at the ironworks in Ravne. For 25 long years he was a part of stories like the one when once a 60-ton steel melting furnace began to leak. He was an exceptional person because of that. He could make the tiniest and most refined things with his hands, and think globally at the same time. He thought and acted big. These stories, which he could narrate very skillfully, have made a big impression on us both. I became a comic strip artist, my brother Metod is engaged in sports and is a mechanical engineer. Although we are in different professional spheres, we really owe a big 'Thank you' to you, grandpa, wherever you may be. He was a great grandpa. We also issued our own magazine called: The Ink Stain. Metod was writing the texts and I was doing the drawing. Here you can see an issue from the year 1988. (Laughter) This is not it yet, as you may have noticed. This is the cover. This is the issue dedicated to dinosaurs. Here you can see the logo as well. Dinosaurs and the little drawing. I was 12 years old when I drew this. We were writing all the texts completely by ourselves, making up crosswrods, exercises and so on. Here are a few pages. This is one of the comic strips, I even did two for one issue. Metod wrote the texts. And of course, here is the double issue dedicated to dinosaurs, where you have the whole scheme with the names of all the dinosaurs. We did not have many subscribers, but it looks like Steven Spielberg managed to get to the Ink Stain and made a fortune out of the idea in the 90s. (Laughter) Metod stayed in Ravne, where he continued his education at the secondary school for mechanics. And I went to Ljubljana. Our capital city was a bit bigger than Ravne and a bit more sinister. With a considerably larger number of traffic lights than in Ravne, which had only one at the time. The traffic was much more aggressive here and everything was very loud, but fortunately I did not find it disturbing, as I was used to the noise from the factory. Well, this is me with a scared look on my face, but the school, on the other hand, was a blast! We had a totally great, genius school. Secondary school for design and photography. Our physics professor even lent me a textbook for Swedish language, so that I could pick up some Swedish during my physics class. Our chemistry teacher was working on our leading scientific research institute Jožef Štefan. Our mathematics professor was also genius. The professor of Slovene language wrote her thesis on our national poet Prešeren, so her lectures were really academic. Not to mention the practical training. We were encouraged to draw, we had this totally wacky professor for writing, a four-year course. If you remember Steve Jobs, who is a fan of spationing well, we covered all that, too. This professor was also a freak for Zen Buddhism so we also did some meditation, in short there was a lot of action going on. (Laughter) We were drawing and turning a lot and so on. On the Faculty of Education, where I continued my studies, I had only one main interest, which was statistics. This satisfied the part of my brain, interested in mathematics. And statistics proved to be very useful later in my life. But I never stopped drawing comic strips. Instead of flowers, I would always give girls comic strips as presents. I also gave one to my future wife. In fact it was not quite like this. She was actually totally thrilled. (Laughter) I did not come across as a freak, because there is something in us comic strip artists -- we are incredible when it comes to matters of the heart. At the academy I took a wrong turn so to say. For a moment there I even thought I would not become a comic artist, that this would not be my career, that I will rather become a painter, an artist and exhibit my art in galleries, sell it. Here you have an example of one of my paintings. This is not The Black Square by Malevič, but censorship. The things I painted then were awful. When I finished my studies at the academy, I threw everything away. The academy taught me what I should not do in life. I also learned how I should not lecture. Because the academy was not a very pleasant place for me. Luckily, I would spend a lot of my time at the Ljudmila media lab, where they had a few computers, sponsored by George Soros. I spent a lot of my time there. On your left there is no one else than one of the speakers on the former TEDxLjubljana, Vuk Ćosić. We literally sat next to each other like this. And exactly at that time, when I was there, he was inventing net.art. It was still completely fresh. So I asked him: "Vuk, what are you doing here? What are you typing?" What is this .html?" And he replied: "Ciril, copy and paste and take it easy." I still remember this. (Laughter) Those of you who know a little bit of .html, will know that this is what we saw earlier. Vuk and Ciril .jpg, right? Anyways, it was real luck I decided not to dedicate all of my time to painting, but rather let new possibilities to open emerge and became interested in computers as well. We have made quite a leap now, here we are 4 years ago There is already a little boy in the picture. This is our son, Omar. And the lady on the left is our neighbor from our former flat, who works in a company called Slorest, where she is responsible for food safety. Mostly in canteens and restaurants. Well, she was the one who once suggested to me: "Ciril, you create comic strips and I have to educate people about safety. Let's do something together. This training we have now is inefficient, I bet you would be able to figure out something better." I remember well what I replied, I said something like: hmmmm. And I seriously doubted, that anything could come out of this. Because comic strips are nonetheless an underground medium, meant for fun. Oh yes. Then she gave me a good advice, she said: "Ciril, don't worry, you would be doing what you usually do. You would enjoy doing it and make an industry out of it at the same time. So I took her advice and immediately got my wife pregnant two times. (Laughter) Of course, things got more serious then. We can see that we have arrived from here to here. (Laughter) So I went to this company Slorest where they were, lucky for me, very very understanding. They also had a serious issue, because they had to present some quite demanding standards to people who had no time and were tired, older and maybe poorly educated. And this company does not have only one but 120 different facilities all over Slovenia. And they are all very dispersed, the kitchens are in different factories, some of them are only for distributing food, some are central, some well equipped, others not. It is very hard to figure out the common denominator. And their former training -- education is a serious matter -- which was designed to present these standards to the tired people in the kitchens was, a disaster, to put it mildly. These people would be engaged in frontal teaching for, no kidding, 8 hours, on Saturdays. I could not believe my eyes. I said: "Eight hours, are you out of your minds?" And after that an extremely long test followed. And the people were of course sleepy. They did not understand. well, a few of them actually enjoyed it. Some of them had a good time. A really good time. (Laughter) In short, it was time we tried something new. OK, me and Kata -- that's the name of my friend -- said OK, let's start by first designing the characters of the comic strip. And in such a way that we would design a character for every post in the restaurant. For example this is the head of the establishment called chief butler "What's your name?" -- Butler -- What do you do for a living? -- I'm chief butler. Wait a minute. OK (Laughter) Here is Marička, the cook, and the dishwasher here is the cook's assistant, and the rest of the infrastructure, for example the distributors and guests. This is the nice guest Tomaž and the angry guest, Ciril was he named. He is always "pi**** off". Well, with this group of characters we made a few test examples. What were they meant for? Kata and me had dedicated a lot of time to research, we were working on it for approximately six months. We visited lots of kitchens, small and medium-sized plants and listening, eavesdropping on their conversations, to see what kind of humor they have. A bit more spicy in the kitchens, to be honest. And then we presented them with three different comic strips one of them was very conservative, the second one was somewhere in between and the third one was more provocative. By that we wanted to see what suits them most. What they can identify themselves with most. Although it may not seem like it at first sight, but the content is strictly outlined in accordance with the HACCP standards. They were developed by NASA, after they established that diarrhea in zero-gravity environment is not a pleasant thing. (Laughter) And that it is wise to be careful not to cause any infections when consuming food. These standards have then made quite an impression on for example the European Community, and consequently on Slovenia as well, where they were 100% accepted. As you can see we tend to be overly cautious when it comes to regulations. Well, we had made up these three plots, and we were very cunning in presenting them. I went to this factory and presented myself as the new comic strip artist at the factory in Ravne na Koroškem, the exact same one in which my grandpa had been working as an engineer for 25 years. So I came back with this comic strip, this factory has one of the largest canteens and the people there are really dedicated to their work. A real proletarian atmosphere. Considering the fact that my audience today consists of very intelligent people, we could say that "we are bringing the mess halls to mensa". (Laughter) And as for the comic strip I could say we are bringing it from the newsstands to the plants. Here is how we gathered together and this is also the educational model now used in Slorest. In 15 or 20 minutes of pause between shifts the manager of the establishment gathers together his team, which can consist of 5 people or more. They read the strip and then discuss what is wrong picture by picture. We did this here as well. I also shook hands with everyone, that's how we checked whether the emotional reaction was good or bad. As you can see here, the participants were very happy. Here they got scared when we told them to peel the apples. Not only did they react emotionally, they also understood that you cannot peel an apple without washing your hands first after a handshake. This was the theme of our comic strip. Here you can see the content Kata and the pleased ladies. Look how proudly they are holding this strip, it instantly became a hit. And here you can see that we made it! (Laughter) I think this says it all. This lady hugged me and said: "Now I know why I came to this training." (Laughter) We designed a neat folder for the comics, which I will show to you right away. Namely these comics are issued every two months and a half in the form of a sheet of paper. Here is an example. They do not have internet access or monitors for any kind of videos in the kitchens, the system is still oldfashioned. The infrastructure with comic strips has proven to be the only effective and appropriate one. The strip has two sides, here is the "Right" kitchen, which presents the answer to the question set on the last training and on this side we have the "Wrong" kitchen with a new plot. The questions cover everything, from paperwork, pure bureaucracy, to the attitude towards guests, relationships among the employed and of course the HACCP standards. For example, how to organize the refrigerator. Here you can see very well, how we accentuated the most important thing, the microbes. OK. In this incorrectly organized fridge the microbes are cheerfully rushing downwards. Look, on a sheet like this there is a question as for example: "Which mistakes did Marička the cook make?", The team fills them out and sends them to the head office where we choose the rewards. In the year 2006 we have done a test, in the year 2009 everyone in the section with cooks born before the year 1950 said: "It's great!". So ladies and gentlemen between 40 and 50 years of age are our biggest fans. (Laughter) This training is in accordance with all the laws, it's environmentally friendly, and what is very important, the costs amount to only 25 % of the costs of the classical training. And here is my first appeal to businessmen, who work in certain conditions or environments, in industries that are dispersed, where internet is not used -- this is the right approach. And this is also the right way to give our industry a push. Construction companies and automobile industry, also present good opportunities for comic strips. How did the story go on? We issued a manual, meant as a kind of a presentation of the comics and the text to the newly employed. In the year 2008 we won the prize for most innovative human resource management totally out of the blue. In the finals we successfully beat Microsoft. (Laughter) Yes, as total outcasts. But what is important here? The important thing is that I as the artist have to become a part of a team, which consist of different people, sometimes even other artists. It has already happened that I worked together with two other comic strip artists. Somebody has to color the strip while a diverse team of experts has to prepare the content. If we're treating a gastronomic problem a gastronome will be working on it. If the problem is in the food safety, someone responsible for that will cooperate with us. The psychologist in the company comes in when we are discussing the relationships among the staff. The team is very diverse. Especially in this phase we have to be very very attentive. This part, which I will go through a bit more quickly, is dedicated to the artists. My appeal to those, who draw. After the script comes the first draft, which is followed by the drawing of the interior, followed by the more precise drawing of characters. The next stage is a ? drawing of the characters with a watercolor pen, which is then refined with the help of the computer. Be careful about this part, because here come the colors. As you can see, we have turned the thing around. Why? Because we have realised that the camera does not show everything we would like it to show in this case. Check this out. The word balloons in my comic strips are made separately. This is great because everything underneath them is already drawn and if you decide in the postproduction that one of them needs to be removed, the drawing remains unchanged. This is an interesting combination of a watercolor pen drawing and work done by computers.. What I will show you now and is also very important is this. Namely, if you look at the amount of text, you will see that in this comic, which is very replete... The plot is about a problem in organization and a scam on the distribution line and so on. It took me quite a while in the kitchen to realize what this is all about. Look at the little amount of text. This is designed for the people who are tired, for the 15 minutes in between shifts. For the cooks, who have to sit down, focus and determine what the problem is. I'm sure you're familiar with this map. You'll see that there are still a lot of areas, not covered by internet connections. These are the regions where comics are really huge. In one of TEDTalks, a gentleman from India explains how flourishing the comic strip industry is in India. They have a series of comic strips there, which do not only present their mythology and religions, but also, very importantly, interesting people. These are comics, printed in more than 100 million copies. You have these fabulous South American comic strips made by revolutionaries, governments. These are the parts where the internet connection is a rarity. When it was established that in South Africa 11 million of children will never be able to read good enough, they published the life story of Nelson Mandela in comics. Here is one example from Kenya. I tell everyone who travels the world to bring me some comics from there. So this is how this collection was formed. Usually the speakers on TED close their Talks with big words such as: "We need to change the world". As beauty pageant contestants, with the difference that they really mean it. My logic is simpler. I see that there are a lot of different people in this world. Some of them are good at cooking, some at drawing, others at managing work, some are good gastronomes, some, who are usually a bit older, are good storytellers, some are good food manufacturers and here are also the little ones, who draw as well. People are different but we each have our own place in this story. And TED is for me a place, where all these stories come together. What I would like to emphasize today, is, that also the printed media such as comic strips and newspapers, will play an important role in the future, especially on these blank spots of the internet map. And this represents a large part of Asia, Africa and South America, that is why I would also like to finish with this appeal to the people all over the world, to remember that they have talented artists at home and that one cyclostyle can do a lot. The so called hundred-dollar laptop project can also contribute a solution to this story, in short let's get together and start creating comic strips. I would like to close this Talk with the three words, which give goosebumps to every fan of comic strips: To be continued... (Laughter)

Video Details

Duration: 19 minutes and 52 seconds
Country: Slovenia
Language: Slovenian
Genre: None
Views: 166
Posted by: evridika on May 16, 2010

Ciril Horjak aka. Dr. Horowitz is a comic artist. Lately he has been working on a project with a Slovenian food preparation company on an alternative way to educate staff using comics. He explains what are the reasons to do so and also tell us what are the possibilities for comics in the future.

Ciril Horjak aka. Dr. Horowitz je risar stripov. V zadnjih letih je delal s podjetjem Slorest na projektu izobraževanja delavcev s pomočjo stripa. Razložil nam bo prednosti uporabe stripa in perspektive za prihodnost.

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