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Ten Reasons for the Emerging Artist to Join a Local Art Group

by Moshe Mikanovsky on 10/7/2010 8:38:38 AM

This article  is by Moshe Mikanovsky, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

In the past year, I have joined two local artists groups. Both are located in the city where I live, Toronto, and both have small membership fee and no jury process to join in. The first (the Israeli Artists Group of Toronto) is specific to my background and culture and the second (the Artists’ Network, Riverdale, Toronto) is more geared towards helping member artists in the marketing of their art.

I have seen many benefits for myself, and for the other members of these groups, in joining and becoming members. Many of the advantages require the member’s participation and being a social-animal. In my case – schmoozing, not being shy about introducing myself, telling the other members what I do, take an interest in what they do, try to help, and more. To me it really works and it will continue working and growing.

So, I wanted to summarize and share with you 10 of the reasons why you should join a local art group. Here I am trying to talk to artists like me – either emerging, or “straggling”. Although I hate the word “straggling”, I am sure you all know what I mean. We try hard, we try our best, but we still need that day job to keep going. So, with these benefits, and many other things we do, one day we will make it and not be straggling any longer!

OK, here we go, the 10 reasons to join a local art group for the emerging and straggling artist:

1.       Socialize – get out of your lonely studio. I have heard it a lot from other members how being an artist can be a lonely thing, being “stuck” in the studio for many hours, not working in an office environment with other people and water-fountain small talk opportunities. The local groups will usually have socializing meetings where you can meet other artists and just get out there.

2.       Learn – see what other people are doing and learn from them. The variety of artists and experiences can really make for an excellent place to learn from other artists – talk with them about the way they tackle the business side of being an artist, find who is giving workshops and attend them, or in many cases, come to a group meeting where one of the artists is presenting their art and techniques.

3.       Share your knowledge – teach other people from your knowledge. If you can learn from others, than there must be something you can teach from your experience. What about art making techniques, marketing ideas, utilizing technology or art shows experience?

4.       Network – meet people who know other people, in order to enlarge your network. Networking cannot be underestimated. Getting to the right people, such as gallery owners, curators, collectors or licensors, can be done through a network of friends with similar goals. And although it might seem that the other artists are your competition, the truth is that many are more than willing to share and connect you to the right people.

5.       Opportunities – One of the end results of growing networking is the opportunities that emerge from many unexpected places. There are many opportunities to be taken, you just have to identify them and make yourself ready for them to call you. You can find new opportunities for business, commissions, art shows, exposure and much more.

6.       Participate in art shows – many of the local art groups organize group shows and, in some cases, they are not juried. This is an excellent way to start exposing yourself and your art and to start building your resume. The juried art shows are even more important, as their quality is often much higher. Getting to know where the art shows are, what their requirements are and who might participate in them are all integral parts of the local group activities.

7.        Volunteer – give your time and efforts for the benefit of you and others. You will gain respect of your fellow artists and they will be willing to help you in return.

8.       Practice – with the many activities that happen throughout the year at the group and volunteering opportunities, you will have the valuable opportunity to practice. Participate in arranging shows, see what happens behind the scenes and learn what is involved. This will give you a great practice that you will need for your own business development.

9.       Expose yourself – let people know you. There is no better way to sell your art than to be known. And you have to start somewhere. Your local art group can be one such place, where you expose who you are, what drives you, make friends and become known in the local area and community. That will also give you the sand-box playground to practice exposing yourself to the rest of the world, like your clients.

10.   Write about it – write your experiences in your blog. It will be a great topic to write about and local searches will rate high in SEO (Search Engine Optimization). When you meet other artists, write about them, discuss the group’s events, art shows and other promotions -  you will get better local results for searches. The search engines do look for localization relevancy and being part of and writing about a local group is a wonderful way to do just that.

I hope this list helps you make a decision and join a local art group. You might already belong to a group, or more than one, and nodded in agreement while reading this list. Or you might not have any particular group in your area that fit-the-bill, so maybe start one…

Do you have more reasons that I didn’t mention to join a local art group?  Do you have a story to share with us on how joining a local art group helped your career?

Cheers

Moshe


 

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Related Posts:

A Brotherhood and Sisterhood of Artists

Joining a Group

Artists Teaching in Art Tours


Topics: art marketing | FineArtViews 

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 50 Comments

Helen Horn Musser
via canvoo.com
Hi Moshe, Thank you for another great newsletter; you are so right to steer us into an art group. Several artists and I created a group many years ago and it is wonderful. I've met many artists I would not have known without it and the demos by well known artists give so much new information. It is an excellent way to share your art and see others and what they are doing.

Ellie Harold
via canvoo.com
I've been on the fence about joining a local group and this article has helped me tip the scales in favor. I hesitate because it is all too easy for me to jump in and run the show, distracting me from my work. However, I am new to the area and feeling isolated -- it would be good to meet more people. Perhaps I can learn how to be a part of a group without leading it. Or lead only when it's what I want to do, not for the old co-dependent reasons. Thanks for the article.

Michael Cardosa
via canvoo.com
Hi Moshe,

Very good and valid posting today. I agree whole heartedly. I paint with a group on Sunday mornings for the last two years and I love the time I spend there. The camaraderie and the exposure to other people's methods and experience is priceless. I just became an associate member to another artist group and am looking a t one or two others where I might be able to spend some time and broaden my experiences.

Thanks again,

Michael



Helen Horn Musser
via canvoo.com
Ellie, I hope you do; leaders are so necessary for a group and just do what you have time for. Everyone will understand that since they are also artists and time is very valuable. The rewards of friendship are wonderful and especially artists friends.

Charlotte Herczfeld
via canvoo.com
Hi Moshe, thank you for the good advice! I decided to join our local art appreciation group, as there are no artists groups in my area (not that I know of). It will be interesting, to meet people who like to look at art, but not necessarily create it.

Starting an artist group is a good idea, although a lot of work. (Not for me at this point of time, I run another organisation, have to have some time to paint, too.)



Lorraine Khachatourians
via canvoo.com
Moishe, I can attest to all the positives you have listed here. As a beginning artist I was invited to join a local group about 6 years ago and it helped me in many ways - working consistently (we meet twice a month), having group shows etc. As a result I have grown a great deal and become more confident as a painter.

My question regards how long should one stay with a group. Can one outgrow a group? I have been approached about joining another, older and well established group in our small city, which is very flattering. But I feel loyalty to the group I began with. I won't be making any decisions until next spring, but wonder about others' experiences with this kind of situation.

Deborah Weinstein
via canvoo.com
Moshe, I do enjoy your posts. This morning I am smiling to myself at your choice of the word "straggling," which certainly describes my situation - kind of dawdling, not sure whether I actually want to join the marketing stampede - or whether you really meant "struggling," which also works in the context of your post but means something different. And also describes my growth as an artist. It is a struggle, all right.

In Laguna Beach, California, where I have the good fortune of renting a studio in which to struggle at my own straggling pace, there is an organization called The Socal Artists Association (www.socalartists.org) which has made a huge difference in my life. Everything you say about joining the local association is true, and I would encourage any artists in the area to check it out. My favorite activity is the critique we have the third Wednesday evening of each month. I am always inspired to see what other people are doing, and the friendships keep me going when my self confidence straggles too far behind...

George De Chiara
via canvoo.com
I used to belong to a few local groups, but noticed I didn't have the time needed to spend with each one and didn't get as much out of being a member as I think I should have so I'm now attempting to narrow my membership down a bit. I agree with your points for belonging to a group. All good reasons to be involved.

Tom Weinkle
via canvoo.com
Moshe,

Great article, and good tips. I participate in arts groups, and other related activities for all of your reasons, and can say it helps.

I'd offer up one more, to paraphrase Clint....Reason 11, Your participation Can Change The World.

Moshe Mikanovsky
via canvoo.com
Thanks everyone for the comments!

Deborah - you made me laugh here too! I did mean struggle, but I kinda like this typo... Like these watercolor bleeds I learned to like so much! But hey, you caught me there. I rely on my spell check way to much, and this one could not be caught.

I should tell you a funny story about typos and art, but on a second thought I think I'll make a blog post out of that story! So I'll keep you posted with the link once I have it done.

Cheers
Moshe
Ps any typos in this comment? Don't have my spell check on me :-)

Katarzyna Lappin
via canvoo.com
Moshe, I love your article and I think this is a great thing to be a part of artists groups. There was always this stereotype of a lonely painter, alienated from regular stream of life and this is far from the truth these days. We need to be social to survive on every level of life.

I am a member of three art organizations and this was crucial to me when I decided to expose my art to the public. I like the monthly meetings with the other local artists and I give them so much credit for what I was able to gain this year. The other bigger organization takes most of the credit for selling my works in a great venue located in one of the best area of my city. Also it helped me to get some recognition through awards.


What is great about the two art associations I belong is that they provide so many opportunities to learn, they invite other great artists for art demos, they do the shows, they do the paint out meetings, critiques and many more.

It is a wonderful way to network, to meet others, to exchange experience. I believe that whatever we gain in life is always a result of work of many people. We can never say "I did it all by myself". It is great to make ourselves available to help others and to be helped.



Thank you for your great post :)

stede barber
via canvoo.com
Hi Moshe,
I love your posts and look forward to them. Your good-natured and open-hearted approach is so supportive!

I totally agree with all your reasons listed, and want to extend the idea into participating in a local art "fair", which we are fortunate to have here, as well as a local Studio Tour. Both are terrific ways to meet other artists, share ideas, volunteer, learn and grow.



Carol Schmauder
via canvoo.com
I belong to the Spokane Watercolor Society and find that I really benefit when I attend meetings and stay active with the group. All ten of your reasons are spot on Moshe. Thanks for the great article.

Lee McVey
via canvoo.com
Joining art societies is an excellent way to meet fellow artists. When I moved to Albuquerque, I didn't know anyone.

Becoming a member of Pastel Society of New Mexico and Plein Air Painters of New Mexico has introduced me to many new friends and given me exposure for my artwork as well.

The benefits I've experienced, besides meeting fellow artists who are now my friends, have been volunteering, (art groups are my version of community service) giving presentations at the monthly meetings, giving demonstrations at their national shows, gaining students for my pastel classes, helpful information about painting and marketing, and just plain fun!

I encourage everyone to try out local art societies. There must be one in your area that would be a good fit for you.


Esther J. Williams
via canvoo.com
I presently belong to four art groups, the activities are overwhelming, so I have to decline many of them. But in the past 8 years, I have expanded my technical knowledge, honed my social skills and became known as an artist in the area or region. In the beginning I joined several Friday plein air groups for painting at picked locations. There would be a mentor or demonstrator artist who was seasoned and established. With all that observation and practice in the field, I evolved greatly. Being in countless art shows and exhibitions built my resume into a long list. To top it off with a cherry, I feel I belong here and have made many friends. It is a good thing so to speak to join art clubs. It takes you out of your comfort zone of staying around the studio or home all the time. I used to complain about that, there is a lot of time invested in running around. You know what? It is all worth it!

Lee McVey
via canvoo.com
I forgot to mention all the exhibition opportunities and disocunted advertising rates I've had because of membership in art societies. Both the pastel groups and the plein air group I belong to have open and juried shows, and they have offered discounted advertising rates in Southwest Art magazine.

Fred Bell
via canvoo.com
I agree completely. I joined a group several years ago when I didn't know anybody. Now I know many artists and have become well known in the art community. It lead to lots of opportunities.

Michael Cardosa
via canvoo.com
I recently joined an artist organization almost by default. I was sending in an entry to their juried annual show and the choices were one entry for $35 or become an associate member for $40 and get one free entry. I guess I should also point out I did not make it into the show but now I'm determined to do so next year and become a full artist member.

Michael

Michael Cardosa
via canvoo.com
Esther,

I like the point you made about joining groups and how it can take you out of your comfort zone. That's really the only way to grow.

Michael

Alma Drain
via canvoo.com
This was a good i belonged to a co-op art gallery for 3 years, it was so much fun and we all had a blast. A friend started it when i got the email i just said im in, where do we start and it was in full speed ahead. Sold art but grew in what i could do. So if you ever have a chance to join GO FOR IT. almajo [painter of feelings that you are there]

Bonnie Samuel
via canvoo.com
Good post, Moshe with lots of good reasons to join a local group. I've certainly benefited in several ways by joining local groups, but I would say it's a good idea to visit a few times before making a firm committment to participate. Choose group(s) that will offer you opportunities to advance your own career - whether its classes, mentoring, association with "names", exhibitions, etc. I once joined a club that basically had show and tell and that was it! The treats were usually good though.

Barb Stachow
via canvoo.com
Hi, I have joined our local art group and I agree with all 10 reasons, it is one of the best things I've done for my emerging art.

Esther J. Williams
via canvoo.com
Michael, art associations do spawn growth and get us out into the current art world with it`s trends. One more great advantage is SALES! I forgot to mention that, it is a major point to join. Exposure of our art and resulting sales. We also gain art followers and collectors.

Deborah Weinstein
via canvoo.com
Moshe, I'll look forward to your next story.

By the way, I lived in Israel for a number of years (Kibbutz Ein Dor), so I know how difficult it is to express oneself freely in a second language. My hat is off to you, really. When I dared to try to write in Hebrew, my spelling caused great hilarity all around, and I wasn't even trying to be funny. (LMAO had not yet been invented.)

David W. Mayer
via canvoo.com
Am I the only who is confused? I thought this Fine Art Views Newsletter was about “fine art” and was aimed at professionals or those on the brink of turning pro.

The definition of “emerging” is “Newly formed or just coming into prominence”

Here are ten things you could do INSTEAD of wasting time with many (not all) local art groups where people just want to “push paint around and gab” rather than truly learn and “come into prominence” as an emerging professional. A lot of these people will be painting the same amateurish way 10 years from now.

1 - Learn to ask “What”s right with this painting (or passage, composition, brushstroke, etc.) and WHY” and “What”s wrong with this painting (or a passage, etc.) and WHY”. Learn to ask and answer these two key question EVERY time you look at a painting or passage. If you can”t answer these you will NEVER grow, period!

2 - Take a few good workshops from very good or great artists. And really listen, not just attend and push paint around.

3 - Buy a few good “how to books. Then look at all the paintings in the books and repeat step one above.

4 - Work with a limited palette, not 30 dots on raw tube colors

5 - Learn how mix 8-12 pools of color for your painting and paint from these rather than dipping directly into your tube colors

6 - Use some neutral grays in your painting, and not so much raw bright color

7 - Go paint outdoors, again and again.

8 - Paint with people are better than you, ask ask for help. Have then ask the step 1 questions and don”t be afraid to really listen without getting defensive.

9 - Practice your brushwork. Richard Schmid says that while people say they have the most trouble with color, they really have the most trouble with “drawing” by which he means “applying paint with a brush to render exactly what you want”.

10 - Learn that there are 5 types of light: Highlights, mid tones, shadows, dark accents and reflected light. If you don”t know which light you are painting, learn! Learn that there is no light without shadow and no warm without cool.

Lynne Fearman
via canvoo.com
Good points David, but without the art clubs that I belong to I would not have the network of support that I have now. They became a family of artists who critique, reward and nurture my artistic aspirations! Without their support I would not have progressed to the high standard I have achieved over these past 20 years.


Marian Fortunati
via canvoo.com
Another excellent post, Moshe!

I couldn't agree more and have benefited in all of those ways from my local clubs.
Because of the clubs, I have made a whole new set of friends and have learned from them. Additionally the clubs have provided me with challenges as well as opportunities....

Each club has a bit of a different flavor and thus a bit of a different set of pluses and minuses. I join you Moshe in urging most artists to find a "home" with a club of like minded people.

Marian Fortunati
via canvoo.com
And David...
While everyone may not be as professional as you... there are certainly opportunities for everyone in the different clubs...
Clubs are a good way to meet those fellow artists you may admire and want to study with or paint alongside. Everyone can learn and love the process of making art whether they be "professional" or not.

Tuva Stephens
via canvoo.com
Wow! There are so many great comments here about why you should join art groups. I can't tell you how important art groups have been in helping me to develop confidence to step out of my comfort zone.

I started with joining a local county art group, then branched out into the region, then state (TnWS) and now national such as, Southern WC Society (18 states)which shows feature the most well known southern watercolorists such as Dean Mitchell and many others! It is so inspiring to have your own work hang next to the big names in art. It gives you a real boost!

Recently I went ahead and became a member of KWS (Kentucky) and had a painting accepted in the Aqueous USA.

Artist are exposed to stellar work and it really motivates the you to work harder and better.



Tuva Stephens
via canvoo.com
Juried shows have been the source of proving myself on all levels-locally, statewide, regionally and nationally. It is also rewarding to have recognition of growth by artists in which you have admired.

These shows created a great network of artists that I continue to enjoy.

I am in 2 groups that have monthly critiquing sessions that are extremely valuable. Since retiring from teaching art for over 3 decades, my life is full of networking, marketing, and painting. I must add that I have learned sooooo much from the contributors of these articles.


Donna Robillard
via canvoo.com
Not only is it good for emerging artists, but it is also good for the seasoned artist who has been part of an art organization for a long time. They are the encouragers for the rest of us.

Deborah Weinstein
via canvoo.com
David, your suggestions for learning and improving are all excellent, but there is no contradiction between joining local art associations and being serious about developing your work. I have enormous respect for the other artists in the association I belong to, and I learn tons from then. It's not instead of workshops, books, questioning each painting and working at it every day. It's in addition. My friends keep me humble, and they keep me going.

Lee McVey
via canvoo.com
There are groups in which all the members are not serious about their artwork and never will be, and there are very good art groups in which there is a portion of the membership who are just dabblers, but a good portion of the membership are serious, dedicated artists.

In the 2 main groups I belong to, I choose to overlook the fact that not everyone shares my seriousness for painting, and focus on those who do.

Through Pastel Society of New Mexico, but especially through Plein Air Painters of New Mexico, I've had the opportunity to paint with some very well known artists in the southwest and gained a lot of networking advantages.

I still recommend art society membership for its artistic and social advantages--but you should know what your priorities are and what you want out of being a member.

Tom Weinkle
via canvoo.com
Funny thing about joining groups, those who give the most tend to get back the most. Pursuit of skills is important, but to me the idea of community is much more important. The fact is, in numbers artists have much more influence. The notion of the group is precisely why and how things get changed in the world we live in...hopefully for the better.

Unknown, and unassociated is just that, no matter how good you are. We must get involved in groups to succeed.

Moshe Mikanovsky
via canvoo.com
Excellent comments everyone!

For me, the ability to ask for help is key. I know I cannot do everything by myself. No one business out there is built on the one person's shoulders only. There might be the idea creator, or the creative mind, but everyone has *things* they hate doing, and need help with, and it is being humble about realizing it and asking for the help.
A community of artists is a place to start. As simple as that.

Deborah - I don't think I ever visited in Kibbutz Ein Dor. I am from Tel Aviv area originally, so really a city boy... In my last trip back home this last August we did go by Afula and Nazareth area on our way north, so we might have passed next to it...
And, I do have sentiments for your last name. My wife's maiden name is also Weinstein.

Cheers
Moshe

Moshe Mikanovsky
via canvoo.com
Hi Deborah and all,

OK, so if you are interested to hear that other typo story, go check it here: http://www.mikanovsky.com/blog/2010/10/07/check-your-spelling-or-live-with-the-typo-forever/

And if you have a funny story like that, do share! :-)

Cheers
Moshe

Sharon Weaver
via canvoo.com
I have only been painting for three years and was fortunate to find a local group which has provided me with all the things you write about and more. The friends, advise and exposure have all been wonderful. I have learned so much through the group that I am sure I wouldn't be as far along in my work if not for this great organization called the San Fernando Valley Art Club. Thanks.

Michael Cardosa
via canvoo.com
Well Esther, I certainly agree. Sales is a very good point and help with that from a group membership or elsewhere is always welcome!

Michael

Michael Cardosa
via canvoo.com
Hi David,

I think the points you make are excellent, but I don't see where they are in conflict with joining a group, or two.

I know that the one I belong to has a number of professional artists who regularly have shows and sell their work. The members are all very supportive and this group also has an instructor whose level of competence as an instructor and knowledge as an artist is enough to keep everyone honest. Maybe I'm spoiled and think every group is just like this. I can honestly say that I hope so...

Michael


Michael Cardosa
via canvoo.com
Lee,

Your last line about knowing what you want to get out of membership is right on the money!

Michael

Nancy Pingree Hoover
via canvoo.com
Great article! I agree joining art groups can be a rewarding experience and help you grow in your art. However, I would add that one should be careful and research local art groups before joining. Ask around and get recommendations, especially if you are paying to join.

Most groups are great, but some may be more for the inexperienced artist, and some may be geared toward the experienced artist. Check out the groups activities and events. Make sure they do the types of activities you are looking for.

I joined one group when I first moved to my area and I was all excited about it. Then I found out that the artists in the group NEVER got together to do anything ..... literally - NEVER (and I paid dues to join)! I only saw them at art show receptions. All the other activities they had (like workshops, demos, etc.) cost more than I could afford. With my area being very rural, art groups are far and few between. I started to put one together, had my core charter group, then life happened and it fell apart. When we move to Texas next year, I'll look for another group. I already know of a couple that would be terrific to join and are just what I'm looking for!

So, yes, join an art group, but do your homework first! Nice work Moshe!

God Bless!
Nancy

Helen Horn Musser
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Will give welcome to Lone Star State right now. What part of Texas are you moving to? Greenhouse Gallery is a great gallery in San Antonio. Southwest Art Gallery in Dallas is also good one. Many art guilds or clubs in Dallas and also Houston. Texas is becoming an important artistic area in the Southwest. You will love it here Clint is also located in San Antonio area. Such a beautiful city and rich in the history of Texas.

Phyllis Von Holdt
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Again, Moshe, you've hit on an interesting topic. Joining an art group is so helpful! Online art groups, newsletters, etc., are helpful but the physical presence and interaction of other people is important, too.
Thanks, and happy painting to all.
:)


Spencer Meagher
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Your ten points are all excellent. But I think networking has possibly the greatest benefit.

Nancy Pingree Hoover
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Helen, the land hasn't been purchased yet, but we're looking around the Huntsville area. We have our eye on a nice piece of ranch property out in the country in Midway. Excellent place for horses and other assorted animals! Peace and quiet too (I hope). Thanks for the welcome Helen! I will keep the information you gave me in mind, thank you very much! Which part of Texas do you live in?

Nancy

Helen Horn Musser
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Hi Nancy, I think you will find you are in the middle part of Texas and is not far from Austin or San Antonio. Would be to your advantage for your art career. We are located about 30 miles east of Dallas, Texas. In Terrell Texas. Is a small town and a great place to live. We are recently waking up to the arts; musical, theater, and visual arts. I'm sure you will find many outlets for art in your area. Hope your move is an easy one and the sale goes through.

Lynne Fearman
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If you are a professional who has decided that workshops are another way to eek out a living as a professional artist, you'll have a built-in student base if you are networked with a few art organizations.
Most art leagues have a newsletter for their members to advertise their up-coming workshops, and you don't have to pay to advertise!

My first students will be people I know, which makes my virgin steps in running a workshop, much less scary. They are the ones who talked me into teaching, because they have seen my work and want to learn how I do, what I do.

Marian Fortunati
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You're right, Lynne!
I've seen your wonderful work and would love to see how you do what you do so beautifully!!!

Demonstrations for local clubs are also good ways to get your foot in the door!! (hint hint)

Spencer Meagher
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Workshops are a great way to generate a bit of income. One requirement I think is you must feel comfortable painting in front of others.

Lynne Fearman
via canvoo.com
You are right, Marion! I was asked to do a demo for my art league, which led to another demo at another art association. Now I'm doing them regularly, and have a great time while getting paid to do it!


 

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