Ciril Horjak: A portrait

The Artist Who Dared to Lengthen a President’s Nose

November 2022 Living

Jan Tomše


Ciril Horjak is one of Slovenia’s best-known andrenowned illustrators. He is also the authorof the cover of The Adriatic magazine you arereading right now.

Ciril Horjak has been drawn to visual arts since childhood. He grew up and attended primary school in Ravne na Koroškem, where he and his brother, Metod, published their own magazine. He graduated from the Faculty of Education, and later from the Academy of Fine Arts. He is the author of many well-known comics and animated films, a lecturer, and an active observer of the world. He is a regular contributor to the Večer newspaper, C and the author of the first Slovenian textbook on comics. He has received numerous awards for his work.

“Illustrations, and especially caricatures, are a process of subtracting and over-emphasising. These are techniques that help you create a visual image of the person or phenomenon you want to portray. This is how you make the people see and feel your message,” says Ciril, an eloquent interlocutor as much at ease with words as with the lines he is drawing. He dynamically connects different themes throughout his work. He takes the idea about his line of work further: “Our brains work in such a way that they detect certain visual characteristics in people. In this way, this evolutionary tool helps us remember and understand things. That’s why illustrators and cartoonists emphasise certain features. You intentionally exaggerate and try to find the limit. For example, if we make President Pahor’s nose long or his eyelashes three times longer, readers will immediately understand, and the message will come naturally to them.” What does a good illustrator need to have? “You have to be well-read, you have to follow what’s going on, just like a journalist who writes stories. Facts and arguments are the tools you use,” says Ciril, who also collaborated with the Institute for Strategic Solutions on exhibition displays in Bankarium, the Slo venian Banking Museum established a few months ago by NLB on Čopova Street in Ljubljana. Ciril is also a great expert on the Slovenian illustrator Hinko Smrekar and in conversation he will seamlessly take you into detailed stories on the latter’s life and work.

As an artist, Ciril also goes by the nickname Dr. Horowitz. According to the legend, Horjak family’s origin is from the town of Horovice in the Czech Republic, which was founded in the 1300s. The place is particularly famous for the castle, once owned by one family who had nine children, says Ciril, who picked up his nickname after the Hebrew pronounciation of the Czech place, Horowitz.


This article was originally published in The Adriatic Journal: Strategic Foresight 2021
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