Tattoo Culture Magazine

Body Art: The Ultimate Accessory

By Sali Hughes

Re-blogged from:

“Tattooing is gross and just another form of self harm” wrote a female journalist I followed briefly on Twitter, and who was culled almost as soon as I’d typed my flamer in response. As a tattooed woman with a reasonably healthy self esteem and zero desire to hurt myself, I was partly furious at her ignorance about tattooing and mental health, but mainly baffled as to why she even gave a toss what anyone did to their own body.

Her tweet came as a comment on some recent and somewhat nebulous survey results showing that French men had less respect for women with a lower back tattoo (known to Daily Mail readers as the appallingly sexist ‘tramp stamps’) and assumed those women would be ‘easier’ (a term I thought had been retired in around 1976).



I take the stats with a pinch of salt, but these sorts of judgements of tattooed women - usually acting as a smokescreen for old fashioned sexism - are real, blindly accepted and pretty common. My love of good tattoos is such (I have a large swallow on my back, some script on my wrist, and a waist piece planned for the autumn) that I’m always going to challenge them.

It’s not that I want everyone to get tattoos - I mostly don’t care what people choose for their own lives (though I’ll reluctantly admit that I do quite like being a ‘member’ of a club that millions of people find mysterious, appalling and scary). But what I do hope is that people at least base their tattooing prejudices on something real.

The problem with tattooing (an ancient art form that has existed for many thousands of years and one that was banned for women in several countries until a few hundred years ago, just in time for Queen Victoria to get hers) is that many remember only the bad tattoos that were once commonplace.


I remember hearing of kids at my school paying three quid to a fifth-former with a pot of Quink and a Helix compass for a crap inside lip tattoo of their favourite band name. I can only imagine the agony if you were a fan of U2, never mind if you were into Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine. But in 2013, the standard of tattooing can be mindblowing. Most towns now have a seriously good artist and their techniques make for extraordinary detail, richer colouring, pin-sharp definition and increased longevity.

The main reluctance in getting inked is around the potential regret. I understand this - any tattoo has to be considered extremely carefully before committing - but most tattooed people will tell you that’s not really how it works. A tattoo becomes so quickly a part of you that it would feel as abstract as regretting the nose on your face. Of course, potential regret is minimised with good planning.


Like any shoddy workmanship, bad tattoos are grim. I’m extremely fussy about artists and spent months researching the right one, poring over different fonts and text styles online, printing out my favourites and talking through options. A tattoo is forever and you have to set yourself up for success. And yes, it hurts. But I’ve had two babies and many bikini waxes. My tattoos were tea in the park by comparison.


The important thing is that you really love your tattoo. It is simply impossible to please society (and that, frankly, is part of tattooing’s appeal). In the eyes of the media, female tattoos have been cool (Cara Delevigne’s index finger lion), naff (Kym Marsh’s Chinese symbols), a cry for help (Jodie Marsh’s Michael Jackson sleeve), common (anyone in TOWIE) and tragic (Amy Winehouse), but to classify them like this is to completely miss the point of body art (not to mention the worst sort of cultural snobbery).

Tattoos are not a trend, or even a look - each one is personal and inextricably linked to its wearer and artist. What is naff to me (not at all keen on tribal and celtic, despite being proudly Welsh) is beautiful to another who may find my traditional sailor tats to be far from her cup of tea. It doesn’t matter. We get the tattoos that make each of us happy. The extremely personal nature of them is their greatest feature. To be beholden to fashion or external approval is to entirely miss out.


Which is certainly not to say that tattooing has no place in fashion. Kristen Stewart decided to debut her new tattoos at Chanel’s Couture show this week, and Alexander Wang’s latest show awarded Frow VIP status to several high profile tattoo artists. Body art is the ultimate accessory, albeit of the most indelible kind. It’s also one that, in my experience, goes with everything. Teamed with a black dress, my tattoos are irreverent and cheeky, against jeans and Ts they look cool, they toughen up girlie florals and complement biker jackets and skinnies.


They look incredible alongside black eyeliner to mirror their outline, or with red lipstick, their spiritual companion. Tattoo colourfulness means every outfit matches them. I can either cover them demurely or have them poking cheekily from my cuffs and necklines. They’re like waking up every morning with a great pair of shoes already on your feet.

I’m not at all surprised to find that as of 2012, more American women were tattooed than American men. Because even more than clothes, make up, art or interiors, tattoos are an expression of your personal creativity and style, a permanent declaration of identity to the world.


What the tattooed will most often hear from haters is “You like ‘em now but they’ll look terrible when you’re old!”. Le sigh. People forget that tattoos are now so commonplace (40% of British people have one), that by the time I’m old nursing homes will be awash with grannies covered in swallows and mermaids, all swooning over an 80 year old version of David Beckham’s guardian angel.

And maybe, like me, my tattoos will be a bit worse for wear by then - lived in, weathered and a little wobbly round the edges. I’m honestly looking forward to it. Because I’ll remember when I got them and why, how I chose the designs, the high I felt as I left the shop. I am certain I’ll look at them with pride and absolutely no regrets. They’ll also remind me that however advanced my years, and however weary my bones, I can still be a complete and utter badass.

"Tattoo: Flash Art Of Amund Dietzel"

By Marisa Kakoulas
Reblogged from Neeles and Sins's July 3rd post:
Today is the opening of the Milwaukee Art Museum's first-ever tattoo art exhibition:
"Tattoo: Flash Art of Amund Dietzel." The exhibit, which runs to the Fall, celebrates one of tattooing's most remarkable forefathers, particularly the one hundred years since the Norwegian artist arrived in Milwaukee in 1913 and made it his home.

Dietzel's studios attracted tattoo collectors far beyond Milwaukee. As the Museum notes, he "helped define the look of the traditional or old school tattoo," and his tattoo flash remains just as powerful today as it was during the two world wars he tattooed through and the many years afterward until his death in 1974.

I'd venture a guess that, if Dietzel were alive today, he'd be having a laugh at the city's museum featuring his work, especially as he put up a good fight against the Milwaukee City Council, along with Gib "Tatts" Thomas, when the city banned tattooing in 1967.

There are so many great stories of Amund Dietzel's life, and they are wonderfully shared in tattooist Jon Reiter's book These Old Blue Arms: The Life & Work of Amund Dietzel, which I reviewed here in 2010.

This exhibit is drawn exclusively from the book and Jon's collection of Dietzel flash, photos and "peripheral Dietzel Studio material." It should be an excellent show for all tattoo lovers and Americana art buffs.


Here's more on Dietzel from the museum:

Born in Kristiania, Norway, Dietzel (1891-1974) learned the art of hand-tattooing on a Norway merchant ship. When the ship was wrecked off the coast of Quebec, Dietzel and a few others decided to stay. Dietzel traveled with his close friend William Grimshaw, working carnivals as tattooed men and tattooing between shows. 

Passing through Milwaukee at twenty-three, Dietzel decided to make the city his home. He opened a tattoo parlor and soon had a reputation as the region's premier tattoo artist--and the one to whom World War I and II sailors and Marines went before leaving for battle. In 1964 at the age of seventy-three, Dietzel sold his shop to his friend Gib "Tatts" Thomas. The two worked together in the studio until the city banned tattooing, effective July 1, 1967. "At least it took the city fifty-one years to find out that it doesn't want me," said Dietzel.

Good Bye to Legendary Writer and Editor, Chris Pfouts

By Durb Morrison

The tattoo world has lost one of its legendary writers and editors, Chris Pfouts. He was an author and editor who was dedicated to many things throughout his life, including the tattoo industry and community. He authored several books about his life experiences, interests and collections, including “Hula Dancers and Tiki Gods,” “True Tales of American Violence,” “Lead Poisoning,” and more. Chris was best known to most of us as the editor of INTERNATIONAL TATTOO ART magazine, which he edited for approximately 20 years, and more recently the editor for STRETCHING CANVAS magazine.

Every month readers would open a brand new issue of Chris’ editorial sections or interviews to see what he had to say, criticize or simply praise each time with his one-of-a-kind perspective on life and our artform as we know it. Every month, Chris lent us all his time, opinions, education, inspiration and advice from his editor's columns in both INTERNATIONAL TATTOO ART and STRETCHING CANVAS. His experienced words inspired generations of tattoo artists, collectors and enthusiasts each and every month with his wise editorials and interesting interviews with many of the industry’s legendary tattoo artists, both past and present.

Chris was also an avid collector of many things tattoo, art and culture related. His vast collection of interesting oddities and the endless shelves of one-of-a-kind objects defined Chris to the core. I had the pleasure over the last few decades to have spent time with Chris Pfouts building tattoo machines, looking through his intriguing collections, tattooing him many times as well as having him tattoo at my old studio “Stained Skin” in Columbus, Ohio. Chris Pfouts was inspirational to me personally, in many ways, through his approach to his writing and his outlook on life and his approach to those around him. Chris always had a welcoming spirit and had met many people along his journey. Having touched so many other people along the way, his warm handshake, bright eyes and sincere spirit brought many in the community back monthly to read what Chris had to say in his monthly editorials.


Chris passed away June 12, 2013, with family and friends by his side. He will be missed as a good friend to many in the tattoo community and a contributing voice to the art of tattooing.

- Durb Morrison

Written by nkasper — July 11, 2013

A Pound of Flesh- "Synthetic Tattooable Skin Shaped Like Realistic Limbs"

By Jacob Hanks

I’m not usually into whatever new gimmick surfaces in the industry. It takes me a long time to even try it to confirm how bad it is, how cheaply made, or how much more difficult it is than what I was using before some random business man bestowed it to the masses. This is absolutely not the case with A Pound of  Flesh; an innovation that is the hottest thing trending on internet social groups like Instagram and Facebook right now. It almost seems that from out of nowhere, these lifelike tattooable appendages have dominated tattoo conventions as well as art circles as the 'It' product to showcase your art in a very different and unusual way that surely will catch the public eye.
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Co-Owner Shaun Miller explains, “It is our mission to create an experience closest to tattooing real skin. Its main purpose is to help apprentices and beginning tattoo artist to learn the techniques of tattooing without having to actually practice on real people. This will hopefully cut down on the amount of poorly executed tattoos done by beginners. Other applications are that even more experienced artists can practice new techniques and/or new equipment. It also serves as a 3D portfolio. Potential clients will be able to get a better idea how well an artist can tattoo by physically seeing an example versus just a picture on paper or computer screen.”

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When asked how this all came about APOF states, “We started A Pound of Flesh as a way to help supplement income during the slow season of tattooing. I have tried to come up with something to achieve this over the past 6 years or so. Our original idea was skull piggy banks. I got one at a garage sale once and I thought maybe the rest of the world would want one too. Luckily we quickly realized that it wouldn't be the most lucrative thing ever. Co-Owner Abraham Cobaxin recently delved into learning special effects. He started molding his hand to zombify it. One day he decided to try tattooing “DEAD” on the knuckles. It didn't turn out very well but the light bulb was lit. "We tweeked the formula til they were extremely close to the real tattoo experience. The rest is a graverobber’s secret.”

My first time seeing an APOF hand was on a posting from acclaimed script tattooer “Boog”. After my initial what the f&%$ moment trying to figure out what this was and why I should even care, I was just blown away at the quality of piece that you can tattoo on these things. I quickly did my research and ordered two right away, a lefty and a righty, only to order two more after I started my hand. (Yes, I have to pay for them. I’m not getting anything out of this interview).


I was nervous and didn’t want to mess up the product that I just spent money on but after the first line I tattooed, it was like butter. I’d say that this is as close as it gets to tattoing a real person except it doesn’t  squirm and complain from the pain. You can make lines until the ink runs out and pound it in there and you don’t even have to yell at it to hold still. It’s a pretty serene experience when the canvas isn’t trying to hold a conversation and ask questions like what size needle I’m using.


I took my “In progress” hand to the Oregon Ink Show and set it on the table at the booth with some business cards in the fingers and it was an hit. Dozens of people picked it up and inspected the quality of the tattoo. They were intrigued at this new and cool conversation starter. Plus they took my cards and many wanted to get tattooed. One guy even offered to buy it as an art piece but I told him that it wasn’t finished yet. As of now I am planning on creating an art gallery type display of A Pound of Flesh hands and the newly released arm, to display different styles of art to my clients. It has contagiously spread to many of my tattooer friends and there are major artists pushing the limits of creativity on these things.

This is the perfect way to showcase a portfolio piece without having to find an actual person to wear it. The only negative thing is that it takes a little longer to tattoo a piece than on real skin but who’s complaining? This is an apprentice’s dream item to practice things that he’s learning without really messing someone up. It’s perfect for artists like myself to tattoo whatever I want to and try out methods to later use on clients. I’m hooked and the future is very bright for these guys. I can’t wait to see what’s next for A Pound of Flesh. Aloha and thank you everyone.

-Jacob Hanksphoto

To purchase:



Tattoos Still Taboo? NPR Interview

NPR Interview by Michel Martin


Now we'd like to talk about another way people show off their sense of style. According to a 2012 Harris poll, about one in five Americans now has at least one tattoo. And in a country of more than 300 million people, that's a lot of tattoos. But it is still the case that not everybody is comfortable with them. Here's a clip of actress and comedian Margaret Cho talking about her mother's attitude toward her tattoo.


MARGARET CHO: My mother does not like my tattoos. I don't like tattoo.


CHO: It's too much. I don't like. I don't like. Mommy don't - I don't like tattoo. I don't like.


CHO: Meanwhile, she has her eyebrows tattooed, her eyeliner, her blush, her lipstick.

MARTIN: Well, you might have noticed that you're going to be seeing more tattoos because it's summertime and people are showing them off. So we thought this would be a good time to talk about why some people seem to be so fascinated by tattoos while other people are completely turned off and what accounts for the growing interest in tattoos. To have that conversation, we've invited one of this area's leading tattoo artists. He has won more than a dozen awards in his field. He is known as Fatty. He is the owner of Fatty's Custom Tattooz here in Washington, D.C.


Welcome. Thank you so much for joining us.

FATTY: Thanks for having me, Michel. I'm really stoked to be here.

MARTIN: Well, thank you. How did you learn to tattoo and what got you interested in?

FATTY: My interest in tattooing started when I was 16 when I got my first tattoo in a guy's basement for $20. After that experience I was totally hooked. I had decided then that tattooing was my calling in life and that's what I was going to pursue as an art form and as a career.

MARTIN: Tattooing is clearly an ancient art. I mean we, they are all kinds of traditional cultures where people tattoo themselves for all kinds of reasons. But in this country, it's been associated with just certain people, like people in prison, people in the military, oftentimes people kind of associated with, you know, kind of something that people do on a whim. Do you think it still has this kind of outlaw feeling?

FATTY: Unfortunately, no.


FATTY: I enjoyed it much more when it did. I would say in the last 10 years tattooing has become mainstream. I can say this with clarity because I was involved in the business before it was mainstream. In the past, when somebody would ask you oh, you know, what do you do for a living? And you would tell them well, I'm a tattoo artist, typically - and this is 20 years ago - the reactions were negative. There was skepticism that I could make a legitimate living doing tattoo art. There were concerns that I am somehow a real shady dude because I do tattoos. To me, the thing that confirmed that it was mainstream is when I went to go pick up my daughter from her preschool for the first time and one of the soccer moms asked me, you know, what do you do for a living and I told them I didn't tattooing and the reaction was cool, and then all of a sudden all the moms started coming around and wanting to talk to me about it and 10 years prior they probably would have been shielding their children from me.

MARTIN: It's interesting that you hear that on the one hand and a lot of people have tattoos, display their tattoos, not just artists, but we often see a lot of artists, like Adam Levine, for example, from Maroon Five, he's also one of the judges on "The Voice," has a lot of tattoos and displays it, Margaret Cho, as we mentioned, but then you still your stories like this. I just want to play another clip of a conversation we had with a young woman named Al Fox. She calls herself Tattooed Mormon. She moved to Utah about three years ago. She is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and this is what she talked about an experience that she had when she first moved there.

AL FOX: It just felt like everyone was just staring at me, you know, you could just feel people staring at you, you know, from every direction or even behind you. And finally this guy, you know, he tapped me on the shoulder and he said it's pretty ironic you look the way you do hoping that book, you know, and it was a church book.

MARTIN: Do you hear that from people? Do you hear people saying that people think that if they're wearing tattoos or they have parts of their bodies tattooed then it meant something about them and do you think it means something?

FATTY: In our current cultural context, I do think it is to have a little more meaning. It truly meant that you were an outlier of society, you weren't interested in participating in mainstream affairs. You know, it almost has an opposite meaning now. There's a certain tattoo that we do, there's a couple of them that we do quite regularly. It's the same thing. People find it on the Internet, print it out and say this is what I want. It might be slight variations but it's basically the same tattoo. We'll tell them while we are drawing it up, you know, we did this three times last week and the responses oh, cool. And so to me it seems like people are getting tattooed now, not to set themselves apart, but to be a part of the coolness culture that it has become.

MARTIN: What do you think changed it? You were saying that really changed over the last 20 years. Any idea what changed it?

FATTY: I would say the main culprit behind the change in our cultural attitudes towards tattooing has been the media exposure. But I would also say that tattooing has, it has changed dramatically in the sense that it's far more artistic. If you look at the people that are actually good at tattooing, what they're producing, they're producing images on skin that would rival the best work of any canvas painter.

MARTIN: Well, you're working at a place that's, in an area that's known to be kind of conservative in matters of fashion and style. It's Washington, D.C. It's the nation's capital. There a lot of people who wear suits every day. And does that, do you find that self playing itself out in your work?

FATTY: Yes. Often because of the fact that we are in Washington, D.C., a lot of my clients do have high profile jobs. I tattoo judges, lawyers, priests. I've even tattooed the chief political advisor to one of the presidential candidates. These people do have to make an effort though, to not have their tattoos showing, but the fact that they're wearing a business suit means that they can pretty much get anything tattooed but their hands and their face.

MARTIN: Do you envision a time when we'd have a president with a tattoo?

FATTY: I heard recently that President Obama was considering getting tattooed. Actually, he was threatening his daughters to get a tattoo if they got tattooed. And so Mr. President, if you're listening, Fatty will hook you up.


MARTIN: OK. Fatty is the owner of Fatty's Custom Tattooz. He was kind enough to join us here in our studios in Washington, D.C., which is also where he practices. Fatty, thank you.

FATTY: Thank you so much, Michel. It's been an honor.

Written by nkasper — July 09, 2013

A Visit With Union Machine


By Casey Keener

I had an opportunity to head out to Gardena California to check out the new Union Machine and Union Electric Tattoo shop recently to catch up with Big5 and Rupert and see for myself what all the buzz was about. I personally have always been fascinated with what goes into building machines, and Union Machine didn't disappoint. With all the parts being made in house, I felt a little like I was getting a window into a couple of guys' minds who truly live and breathe the art of tattooing and making machines, and all the while the Machine side has only "technically" being in business for just a year!


I also got a chance to speak to some of their clients lately and was turned onto Union Machines by Josh Duffy. The shop is pretty nondescript from the outside but when you walk in through the lone red door you realize that Rupert and Big5 spend a lot of time here. In the lobby there was an empty display case where product was supposed to be and realizing it was empty I began to think they will have great success ahead of them.  They boast a clientele list with some great artists such as Josh Duffy, Fernie Andrade, Freddy and Isaiah Negrete, Veto, John Caleb and many more!


You can check them out at the Pacific Ink & Art Festival in Hawaii, The Hell City Tattoo Fest in Phoenix and the Melbourne Body Art Expo. or visit the website at


Ed Hardy Book Tour and Tattoo Nation Hit Hawaii


On July 13 NATTOO NATION'S ED HARDY will be signing his new book, followed by a TATTOO NATION ENCORE PERFORMANCE on THREE screens in HAWAII, two in OAHU one in MAUI!


July 13, 2:00 pm
1450 Ala Moana Blvd #1272
Honolulu, HI 96814

July 13, 5:00 pm

Victoria Ward
Consolidated Theatres Ward 16
1044 Auahi Street
Honolulu, HI 96814

3. Honolulu, HI
Kapolei Theater
July 13, 7:00 pm

4. Maui, HI
Kaahumanu Theater
July 13, 7:00 pm

On the Road with Jacob Hanks: "Tattoo Nation," the Movie

By Jacob Hanks

Reblogged from:

Danny-Trejo-239x300I am clearly not a film critic or member of the press, but I was fortunate enough to get invited to the private screening of the new film, “Tattoo Nation,” at the Arclight Theatre, in Hollywood, California. For a younger tattoo artist like me, it was a pretty big deal. If you have not heard of “Tattoo Nation,” it is a documentary, directed by Eric Schwartz and written by John Corry, about the “true story” of the black-and-gray tattoo revolution, and features several of the tattoo icons, many of whom I was exposed to, as a little boy, with my father, tattooing in Southern California. That is where the film takes place, when three unlikely tattooers—Jack Rudy, Good Time Charlie Cartwright andFreddy Negrete—came together to become the innovators of modern, fine-line, black-and-gray tattooing. The story, narrated by Corey Miller, addresses how the prison style that originated with young Mexican Americans has exploded into a worldwide phenomenon, giving rise to many new styles and pushing the limits of the popularity of tattooing as we know it today.

With just a couple of days planning, I jumped at the opportunity to see the film and interview the cast. I traveled to Los Angeles and met up with the press for the media junket. Right away, Danny Trejo, the actor, walked by me and I said, “Hey Danny,” like I knew him, and he said, “Hey, man,” as if he forgot who I was and didn’t want to seem impolite. Before I knew it, the office was full of tattoo legends and collectors being interviewed by different television and camera crews, while cameras flashed away.


Pretending that I belonged there, I got to rub elbows with the likes of Ed and his son, Doug Hardy, Corey Miller, Freddy Negrete and his son “Boo Boo,” Jack Rudy and his wife Carrie, Tim Hendricks, David Oropeza and, of course, “The Founder” himself, Good Time Charlie Cartwright. It was truly a unique opportunity to have all these stars in one place and to hear their priceless stories, while they candidly conversed with each other. It was all sort of nostalgic for me, as it brought back the feeling of being around my father and uncle, while they tattooed and told tales with other veterans of that era.

I ended up leaving early, in order to make it on time to the premier. I was pleasantly surprised that my wristband from the earlier event granted me access to the red carpet area. It was better than television, as I blended in with the real photographers from tattoo magazines and media outlets. Notable was Shanghai Kate Hellenbrand, the only woman in the movie, and Pat Sinatra, another great female tattoo artist. I cannot explain how I felt, when these greats walked the carpet and were recognized in a positive light, after all of these years, by a media that has, so often, portrayed tattooing in a negative light. To me, it was a vindication, a validation for paving the way in an outlaw time, as newer tattooers ride the wave of success without ever knowing the history that made things the way they are; without ever caring to learn the names of the artists who made it possible. This was the true innovators’ time to shine.


Inside, the screening was packed with tattooists from all over the world. When I turned around and scanned the theater I saw a who’s who of artists, icons who I had seen in magazines since I first could read. It was awe-inspiring for me and, as the movie started, I still couldn’t believe I was in Hollywood sharing a part of tattoo history. The room respectfully quieted down, from beginning to end, except for widespread applause anytime anyone present was shown on screen, making the movie that much more powerful. There was cool, old, stock footage, as well as great interviews with celebrity collectors and artists such as Chuck Eldridge, Filip Leu, Henk Schiffmacher, Tennessee Dave, David Ororpaiso, the late, great Chuco, Travis Barker, Danny Trejo, Mister Cartoon, Mark Mahoney, Kore Flatmo, Tim Hendricks, Kate Hellenbrand, and of course Charlie, Jack and Freddy.

The audience was completely captivated. And when it was over, Corey Miller called Charlie, Freddy, Jack, Danny Trejo and Ed Hardy down front, to deliver a few remarks. Every word was thankful, humble and heartfelt. No one demonstrated an ounce of ego, even though their stardom had just risen through the roof. Good Time Charlie closed with a little gem, stating that we were all his real family. For me, it really truly felt like it.


Because it is in limited release, not a lot of people have seen this film. However, “Tattoo Nation” is being shown in Great Britain and will be released on DVD, on May 9th. No question about it, this is a must for any tattoo artist or collector who wants to learn the history and pay respects to the pioneers who blazed the trail. Pick up a copy. I know I will. Aloha, and thank you for your time.

—Jacob Hanks (Tattoos by Jacob Hanks)

Photos by Karen Criswell (Koncept Films)

P.S. Here’s a short, free YouTube video featuring Shanghai Kate, Corey, Good Time Charlie, Freddy Negrete, Danny Trejo and Ed Hardy.

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