#17 - Samuel KingDavis | The Adventure Is the People: An Interview with the caricature artist
🗓️ Recorded April 19th, 2023. 📍Chateau de L'Isle Marie, Normandy, France
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About this Episode
Walking on the King Charles Bridge in Prague in 2021 - we stopped to enjoy the artist Samuel KingDavis in action.
He is a true master and an esteemed member of several prestigious artist associations. This includes the International Society of Caricature Artist and Eurocature, where he connects and collaborates with fellow artists, expanding his perspectives and pushing the boundaries of his craft. Additionally, he is part of the Charles Bridge Artist Association, where he plays a vital role in promoting local art and culture.
I am fascinated with street artist. They give bypasses a chance to stop up, pause their life, and just be mesmerized by art - music, juggling, dance, drawing, theater, or something else - I am not picky - I love it all - as long as there is passion, talent and mastery.
I am impressed by the skills they have and how they have perfected their craft. And to be honest, maybe also a little envious of their level of mastery :)
What is it like to be a caricature street artist?
This question has often puzzled me. Which features do you enhance, what to choose, and how do you get people to sit down to get their caricatures done? So when we stood there on the King Charles Bridge, I had to talk with Samuel, and we ended up exchanging contact info, knowing that one day I would love to interview him and get answers to all my questions.
So here it is - an in-depth conversation about what goes on inside the head of Samuel :)
Samuel KingDavis is a seasoned artist renowned for his exceptional talent in caricature drawing and illustration. With an entrepreneurial spirit and a solid background in sales, Samuel has made significant strides in the art world, not just in creating pieces that captivate but also in strategically positioning his work in the market.
Currently, he works as a freelance caricature artist and illustrator, where his impressive portfolio of work showcases his unique ability to blend humor, satire, and likeness into captivating illustrations. This remarkable talent has made him a sought-after artist in his field, leading to collaborations with various clients around the world.
His art is not merely a profession but a way of life. His commitment to continuously refining his craft while exploring innovative ways to promote it exemplifies Samuel KingDavis's unwavering passion for the arts and his entrepreneurial drive. His contributions to the field reflect his dedication and love for his craft, ensuring that Samuel's work continues to inspire and entertain.
Connect with Samuel KingDavis
Please note: This transcript is autogenerated by AI voice recognition - so there will probably be some transcription errors along the way 🙂
Transcript of Self Directed Episode 17
Jesper Conrad: Today we are together with Samuel Davis, or Sam, which we met in King Davis. Samuel, king Davis, king Davis I love that, yeah yeah. Please, please, then I will be. Is my line? Is my line? No, let's stop right there. Artist's name or part of your given name That's my real name, yeah. Seriously Wow.
Samuel KingDavis: Yeah, yeah, that's actually a good topic. It's self-directed. We made our own last name. It's a combination of our last names, but we combined them when we got married.
Cecilie Conrad: To King.
Samuel KingDavis: Hers was King, mine was Davis. Now both of our names are King Davis.
Jesper Conrad: It's a wonderful name I would love to name him.
Samuel KingDavis: Thanks, thank you.
Jesper Conrad: Thank you for the introduction Yeah, sorry, thank you for the introduction. Thank you for the introduction. Thank you for the introduction.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, and why we're having this conversation is kind of interesting.
Jesper Conrad: Also important. Yes, yeah, well, we saw you on a bridge in Prague and I would love to be able to remember the name of the bridge, but Samuel King Davis, charles Bridge, the Charles Bridge, yes, the big bridge, the bridge Where you go.
Cecilie Conrad: They're all on the tourist bridge.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, and you are, among other things, you draw caricature of people and I enjoyed standing watching there and we changed context and I've always wanted to do a podcast interview with you after that, and now it's finally the time A few years.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, it's some years since we met. I have this fascination of street artists of different sorts. When I was in my early 20s I met up with a group of break dancers and electro-bookie artists. with them, but where I saw the inner works of working the streets how do you get in the clients and talk with them and all that and it has just fascinated me ever since. So I love the art, but I also love to see the artist work there. part of the that part of the magic Marketing Oh, the marketing.
Cecilie Conrad: part of it Yeah, the marketing. But, what is the reason? another reason Yes. Is that we this is the self-directed podcast, and we tend to talk a lot about unschooling and family life and how it's apparent. but self-directed is not just that, it's also to grab hold on your own life and make those that the way you make your living is very far out of the matrix. So we wanted to talk to you about that as well, if you're willing.
Samuel KingDavis: Yeah, well, the beginning of that came when I was in college. I well, most of my late teenage life I was working. So the thing in the US is like it's very like work kind of culture. You start working even when you're like 15, usually you get some part-time job at a restaurant or something waiting tables. So I did that. And then I got into sales. So I was working all the way up until college. But I was working inside sales. So people were calling and I was selling cable telephone, internet stuff like that. And I just got to a point where I kind of got more and more professional with that And I hated it more and more the more.
Cecilie Conrad: I did it because There was a correlation line going on.
Samuel KingDavis: Yeah, Well, because, like I felt, Americans needed more authentic time, they didn't need more cable TV, and that's what I was selling, that's how I made money. So every day I went to work, i was just not I would feel bad. And there was one day I remember I went and I literally felt like sick to my stomach because I was doing something that was kind of against my nature, you know, and I was sitting in this gray office and I would look outside and there would be sun shining and birds would be playing and I'm like, oh, i can't do this anymore. So I started a hot dog vending business. I was like barbecuing and I had a hot dog cart and I was selling barbecue and hot dogs on the street. So that's kind of how I started on the street And I got comfortable working around, you know, people who were partying and having fun, and I learned how to kind of manage crowds and manage a business on the street like that. So that kind of led in eventually to caricature Yeah.
Cecilie Conrad: There is a gap for me. I get the thing that you're in this street, you're working people, but from hot dogs to caricature touring, Yeah, there was a gap in between or underneath.
Samuel KingDavis: Well, the whole time I was running the business I was in college too, so I was doing, i was studying fine arts, so I already had like a fine arts background And my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, was working at the zoo and she was painting faces and she was working next to caricature artists. And at that time I was, i had graduated and I was maintaining a studio. So I was like sculpting faces, i was doing life casting, So people would lay back and I would pour alginate on their face and cast it And then I would make a plaster cast of that And it was like these incredible expressions I was getting. It was like dental grade alginate, so you would get all the hair and the pores and everything. And I've made these sculptures. So my, so, kate, she knew that I was interested in faces and I was interested in personalities and all that. So she said, well, why don't you try caricatures? They seem to do pretty well at the zoo. So I got the book and kind of practiced a little bit at home And then when we moved to Prague I started doing it on the street for tips And then so I was busking at first kind of arguing with the police and kind of doing that whole.
Samuel KingDavis: It was kind of chaotic and but it was fun. And then eventually I made it to the bridge, when that's all legal and legit. So now I, now I have like an official position on the bridge. So that's kind of the story in a nutshell. Yeah, can we go back to?
Jesper Conrad: the book You mentioned. It like it's a book the Bible of caricature drawings. Yeah, yeah. Let's see, and while you're getting, what?
Samuel KingDavis: that's the book that I originally bought, so there's a magazine of caricature, yeah Oh.
Jesper Conrad: From the Mad Magazine, yeah Yeah.
Samuel KingDavis: So when I was a little kid, i would also read Mad Magazine and you know the humor in there. When you're a kid and you read that stuff, you kind of know maybe you shouldn't be reading it, but it's fun. You don't know why, you know. It's like kind of raunchy and everything. And you kind of know that maybe if your parents read it they wouldn't let you read it.
Cecilie Conrad: Oh, my parents gave it to me.
Samuel KingDavis: Oh yeah, That's probably just like you know, a Protestant Christian kind of creative background thing.
Cecilie Conrad: I don't know, i'd be maybe a fan.
Samuel KingDavis: But yeah, so anyway, i really liked the drawings there And but I didn't know who the artist was. I just liked it as a kid And then later I got this book and now I actually teach from this book And I know Tom Richmond and everything, because I joined the Society of Carriperture Artist now. So it seems like a secret society. Yeah, we have to cut our fingers and put the fingers together. There is a hat.
Jesper Conrad: That's a hat yeah.
Cecilie Conrad: And a fake note, obviously, yeah, yeah, i love that there's a.
Jesper Conrad: Society for Carriperture Drawers? I don't think there's an art.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, but that one of, I think it's looked down upon in a way as some kind of I don't know under art, but it's not I love that Because it's a lot up to having this conversation.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah and I have promised myself, i need to read up on the story of caricature, because when we were recently in Venice and we saw museum that had an exhibition about character drawings throughout history And Da Vinci also made character paintings- That, oh it was, was it Da Vinci? No, no, it was in the one I passed, so do you know the history? Have you nerded it a little?
Samuel KingDavis: I knew Da Vinci. I've seen some of his caricatures and his I mean he was really exaggerated, like his stuff was pretty rough, he was pretty brutal, yeah. So I knew that. But I know a little bit about some of the history in the US. But I think the reason it has maybe a bad reputation is because there's a lot of people, because some people take advantage of the fact that people don't know a lot about art and the mechanics of art and what it should look like and what the proper proportions are and all of that. So people go out and they draw caricatures when they're really just like scratching, scratching whatever they can come up with, and that's maybe more prevalent than real professional caricature artists, because in the US there's professional caricature artists everywhere, but in Europe it's more like oh, this guy from Bulgaria is 68 years old and he's drawing caricatures, but he has never had any training. So that's, i think, what taints the reputation of it.
Jesper Conrad: There's this question I have about caricature drawings, which is I would like to love to talk to you about you looking at people's personalities and how you drag that out through the drawing. But my first question is how do you make sure to not hurt them? Because there must be a fine art in fine art. Yeah, It's a funny question because there's different.
Samuel KingDavis: In the US, for example, there's different crews. There's one crew called the California Boys. I don't think they even work in California. I don't know why they have that name, but they're notorious for beasting people, So they really turn you. I mean, I have an example of me, my wife and my dog. I'll show you right here.
Jesper Conrad: Wonderful. I would love to see it.
Samuel KingDavis: I mean, these are all like actual drawings so I can't show you digitally. But Okay, I can kind of see, But it has our likeness.
Samuel KingDavis: Like when people see that that's my wife, People recognize her and they recognize me too, even though it's quite abstracted, Yeah. So, yeah, I mean, it depends on the camp. There are certain people or certain crews that they draw. Cuticatures is what basically caricature artists call that where you just have a you know five or 10 sets of eyes in your memory and five or 10 sets of mouths and nose and you kind of like use these templates And you can draw really fast like that and people will line up a mile long like that and you'll make tons of money doing that. But again, it's like kind of eating away at your soul because you're not really expressing anything, you're just using this template. You know So that that's kind of a fine line. Well, for me it's not a fine line, but it can be.
Samuel KingDavis: It depends on what your motivation is as an artist. Like I was actually thinking about this yesterday because I made some really extreme ones and the customers loved it and everyone loved it. So I thought, okay, maybe on Saturday, when I have a line a mile long, I'll draw like faster and just more, more cute, And then on the slower days I'll take my time and really push it. You know So. But yeah, that is. I think that is the biggest kind of obstacle to becoming a real like, to really mastering caricature. That's the obstacle right there for me is like how, how much can I tolerate people not liking it? because people are definitely not going to like it, probably 25% of the time if I draw like that. You know.
Cecilie Conrad: But if you line up for caricature, you're not. I mean, it's not a photo shoot with filters to make your lips bigger. It's different. So in a way, i thought, if you want to buy this service your face being grown by a character artist then you should be ready for waiting for the paint. Yeah.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah.
Cecilie Conrad: Because I'll buy it, because that's actually what you so. but I think another interesting question is you said to draw out the personality, so how is, how is? how do you see the link between how our faces look and who we are?
Samuel KingDavis: I did want to say one more thing about the, the offensive thing.
Cecilie Conrad: Okay.
Samuel KingDavis: And it's about. I don't remember where I heard this. I think it was a lecture from a graphic designer, But what he said was like we are the style makers, So the artists are the ones that determine like what the trend is, what the style is. So it's not really on the customer to make a decision of like what the caricature should look like. It's the artist's responsibility to do that and to inform people what the new trend and the new style is. So that's something that I remind myself when I really am trying to push it, And often what I find is that when I push it, I'm attracting the customers that I want.
Samuel KingDavis: I'm attracting the people that are like fun and they want to experience something wacky and crazy. And it's really interesting, like for the very first caricature that I draw, if I'm drawing from a photo, then I'll get a line of people who want me to draw from a photo. Or if I draw a really cute boy, you know, as a Spider-Man or something, then I get a line of kids that want to be drawn like Spider-Man or Ballerina or whatever. And if I draw totally crazy and like LSD, like mind melting images, then people want that, You know. So it's kind of yeah, it's kind of my decision. I guess I look at it as a professional artist to make that call you know.
Jesper Conrad: So depending on the mood you're in in the morning, you can decide. say oh, today I just want to draw Spider-Man or a boy, I just have the big one up there.
Samuel KingDavis: I don't usually decide like that. I just, you know, if a customer comes and asks for that, or if someone asks for a photo and I do that, then I'll start. then I always get a line like that. Or if I put something on my board, like I had Rick and Morty, i did a drawing of Rick and Morty on my board And then everyone wanted to be drawn like Rick and Morty, you know. So I just I have to be careful about what I put on the board and what drawings that I do, you know, depending on, like, the mood that I'm in that day.
Samuel KingDavis: But to answer your question about the personality and the like, what I decide to draw on the face that's. There's not like a clear cut line on that. But I think that once with anything that you master, like when you get to a point where you've done it a thousand times in a thousand different ways, it becomes more intuitive, And then that kind of intuition can be translated to the page. Of course I'm looking at facial features and like the proportions of the face, but I'm also, more so, looking at like what the expression is Like. The other day there was a guy who sat down and he, when he sat down, his neck was kind of like he was sitting like this and his neck was long and it was like turned, like this, And then he had this kind of expression on his face And then, you know, the wife had a different expression. So I drew just just like that.
Samuel KingDavis: I don't really like to pose people too much unless their face is really there's nothing that really stands out and they're not smiling at all And it's a very dull look they have on their face. But most of the time I try to talk and see kind of like this, like how their voice sounds, kind of like how their posture is how their body is sitting with the. You know, some people are just naturally more bulky, Some people are more wiry, So I try to take all of that information in before I even start drawing.
Jesper Conrad: But how long is the session from you into contact with the person to the finished drawing? I know the exact drawing is maybe a couple of minutes only, but there is this interaction before where you talk and study them.
Samuel KingDavis: Not long. I don't have much time, so I try to do, i try to get them to say something also, because if they kind of like talk, they have that kind of voice, then I know I can draw their chin big. And another thing that's interesting that and actors do this too where you mimic, it's an empathy thing in the brain and you mimic like what you see, like how that person is moving or smiling, and your face kind of mimics that, and then I'm able to somehow translate that onto the page too. So it's about like empathy too, i think, and I did do that automatically. I was actually doing that automatically for the first couple of years.
Samuel KingDavis: And then I heard I went to a convention for Caracachartis and someone was talking about that, about method acting, like how actors actually do that to take on the character more, and how we could use that in caricature. And I was like, oh my God, i already do that automatically. My brain automatically kind of like empathizes and tries to mimic what the person is doing and by that, like when I, if someone has a strange smile and I like notice myself kind of smiling, like that it's easier for me to, easier for me to get from here through the hand on the page. You know.
Jesper Conrad: I, the guys I worked with back then. They had a. They out of control. They were called. They had a street show called The Flying Horses. I saw it so many times that I saw the tips and tricks. And later we met a guy in Barcelona when I talked about. I talked with him about how they got the money And he said oh, that's what we call a contract with the audience. And their line was our show is your show and your money is our money. And then people laugh and they go around with the hat and then comes in and this guy in Barcelona he had another saying but you're just sitting there, so you, you, you don't really have to go out and do a lot of things. So how do you market yourself? Is it just a stand, or do you sometimes need to go out and ask people how does it work?
Samuel KingDavis: Well, there's a couple of parts about that. The first part is in the high season there's almost no work that needs to be done because there's just so many people on the bridge and so many people are in the travel mood and they want souvenirs. So I almost I almost don't even look at people, because that's 30,000 people. You know, i don't want to look at that many faces all every day. So sometimes I'll just read a book and wait for people to approach me, because it's overwhelming. But in the slower times what I've been doing lately is I just, if I notice some people standing on the bridge, just kind of hanging out, i'll go over and I'll just do one for free. I'll just say, hey, look, it's better for me to draw and I want to warm up, so I'll do one for free. And then you know, hopefully I'll get some customers like that, and most of the time people are happy to do that. And then it's by the performance that people can see what's happening, that they're like, oh that's amazing, i want one of those. And then they line up like that. So that's one way I market. I start doing the demos and then I have to have crowd control too. So if I, if I'm drawing someone and I notice there's people kind of like piling up behind me, i really need to turn around and say, hey, this one's going to take this long and this, so you'll be waiting an hour. But or if you want to come back in 45 minutes, i can draw you that. I try to like line up the time as much as I can, kind of improvisational style, and that helps to keep the flow going. But there is something interesting that happened that I'll share with you.
Samuel KingDavis: Actually, the last day that I worked, monday, so I had a couple from the UK sit down and they said, yeah, we love caricature, we follow these caricature artists on Tik Tok. And and I said, okay, well, what's the guy's name? And they said, oh, sebastian Martin. And I said, well, i know him. I was hanging out with him three months ago and he draws really crazy and really exaggerated and really beautifully as well, like he really spends the time to make sure the color is nice and saturated and everything. And I realized that that moment because I have a few caricature artists, friends, that have millions of followers on on Tik Tok and hundreds of thousands on Instagram. And she said, yeah, we really like it crazy.
Samuel KingDavis: And I realized in that moment, like These my friends are influencing what the world thinks about caricature, ah yes. And, and I made a really crazy one, i spent a lot of time on it and I exaggerated, i made sure the color saturation was good and everything. And at that moment I decided like okay, first off, i'm going to go ahead and cave in and download TikTok, which I've been resistant to it forever. And also like now, this summer, i'm just going to spend the time I'm going to really make these. You know, like, if the world is watching, i need to make sure that I'm doing the absolute best I can do.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, So on TikTok, i don't know much about TikTok. Is it like videos of drawing them or some photos of the drawings, or?
Samuel KingDavis: what do people do? Well they're videos. It's all video based And usually it started off with like dancing, like teenagers were dancing.
Cecilie Conrad: I know that part. Yeah, yeah.
Samuel KingDavis: The reason I was resistant toward it is because it's a Chinese app and there was a lot of there are a lot of information gathering just funneled right back into the Chinese government.
Jesper Conrad: And you can get a dummy phone just for your TikTok Maybe.
Samuel KingDavis: Well, the good thing about the iPhone is that you can change. you can really, like, set a lot of privacy settings. So I went through and downloaded again. The first time I tried to download it, it said can we have access to all the information on your phone? And if you say no, you can't download this. And I said, okay, well, I'm not going to download it. No, no, no. But I did get it. Yeah, This time when I went back in though it wasn't, I had like a lot more options.
Jesper Conrad: So I'm happy, but would it be a barrier for working with the crowd that you ask if you can share the work you do of them on TikTok and you would need to have a stand there for you while you're drawing. Do you think people would mind you sharing the caricature of them? I?
Samuel KingDavis: do that now already with Instagram. So if I record their reaction, Yeah, I ask if I can share it on Instagram. And most people wrote I don't think anyone's well, only a couple of people have said no, but mostly people are okay with that.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, i have a question. Maybe it's fun, but what did you want it to do when you grew up, when you were like in your teens? Because now I hear selling cable, hot done, stand and ending up doing caricature drawings and you came from fine The odds kind of. Yeah, did you have a question?
Cecilie Conrad: Did you have a plan?
Samuel KingDavis: I think, I think I always wanted to be an artist. I didn't really know what that looked like or what that meant. I had the typical like studio artist idea in my mind when I was in college And I think that entrepreneurial thing comes from my mother, because my my mom raised me and my brother like totally on her own, basically totally on her own, and she would. She was cleaning houses for wealthy people in wealthy neighborhoods. So she would drive around This was like pre internet, basically she would drive around and put flyers in everyone's mailbox to just stop flyer, stop flyer all these rich neighborhoods And she built a business like that on her own. So for me I knew.
Samuel KingDavis: Another thing about her too is that anytime I would say I can't do something, she would say no, we don't use that in this house. That you never say I can't like. You can do anything that you want to do as long as you work for it, you know. So that kind of like instilled this, this entrepreneurial attitude, i think, which is like okay, i'm just going to do it on my own, i don't need to, i don't need this company to help me or whatever. I can just figure it out by myself. So that's, i think what a big part of what led into like where I'm at right now.
Jesper Conrad: I keep listening to the podcast and there are two dolls in the background. You can see it on YouTube and we will also put it in the image, but I need to ask about them. Do you also work with dolls?
Samuel KingDavis: When I came to Prague I took the puppets in Prague workshop. It's like an international workshop, an internationally known workshop with puppet masters here in Prague, and they just teach you how to make the traditional Czech puppets. So this is like my famous when I'm dead podcast background, which I don't do the podcast anymore, but since both of my puppets, this is like a devil version of me. And then this is like just a skeleton that I made and you make them yourself, the puppets. Yeah, with the help of the puppet masters, yeah.
Jesper Conrad: Have you tried working them on the streets, making shows for them?
Samuel KingDavis: Yeah, yeah, but it wasn't so good. I was surprised they didn't get more attention actually, because they're really especially this one over here that one's like really beautifully sculpted. That was the second one, so it was much better than the first one I made. But yeah, i don't know, people just aren't interested, i guess, or they're not. They're not so blown away by it.
Jesper Conrad: You know no, and I've seen some puppet shows and I, as I said, i really love almost every form of street art. So and I love standing, dance, watching the craft man shift of it. And it's not everybody who seems to understand in the crowd how much skills that goes into moving the fingers correctly on the puppets and stuff.
Samuel KingDavis: Yeah, yeah, i think that that's. I think that maybe that's part of it. I also didn't have much time to to really practice the show or make a show. I just went out and tried a few times. But I think when you try something and you really give it an effort and you can't, you can't do it very well, and then you see someone else do it really well, you appreciate it a lot more. Like I used to try to skate and I never got that good, but now when I watch skaters I appreciate it way more because it's I know how complicated it is And I think that everyone has like tried to draw.
Samuel KingDavis: You know most people have like put the effort into draw something and they see how hard it is. Most people don't know anything about puppets. Or if they played with a puppet, it was a really easy hand puppet and they're like, oh yeah, i can do that And they just walk right past it, you know. But when they see me like capturing a face in three minutes, it's like whoa, really impressive You know it is crazy.
Jesper Conrad: I'm super fascinated by it still, Yeah.
Cecilie Conrad: And we have the circuses because people like to look at people who are really good at something.
Samuel KingDavis: Yeah.
Cecilie Conrad: It is fascinating when someone is really proficient. So it makes sense.
Samuel KingDavis: But it's just like anything else. I think that there's a, there's a like a magical thing that people have in their minds, like most people say, oh, it's this gift that you're born with, it's this talent that you're born with, and I just don't believe in that at all. You know, like I was interested in art so I was willing to practice, but it was the practice that got me able to do that. I mean, my first 500 drawings, let's say, were pretty terrible, you know. I mean, from an artist's perspective, they're terrible, you know. So yeah, it's just, it's just about training.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, and we say that a lot in our family. Two things I want to mention. Before you talked about this, you know how you appreciate things. You've tried because you know how hard it is. We say no effort is ever wasted. Whatever you learn will always in some way give you some kind of new experience or advantage. And trying to play the saxophone, let's say, and figuring out how hard it is, you really appreciate the music afterwards.
Cecilie Conrad: It's the same thing, It's not a waste that you took like three months of trying to master an instrument and you never learned. And that's exactly what you're saying And we also say that's another learning journey thing. we also say very often whatever you practice, you will become good at it. It's like everything just invest the hours and you will grow. No one, no one, was proficient at making caricature drawings the first time they did it. You have to do it 500 times before you like, really. So that's just the stamina.
Samuel KingDavis: And well, the cool thing about that is it all feeds into other things too. Like if you get really good at one thing, then that feeds into other things that you do. So it's there's like a meta level of mastering, something that helps you to master really anything that you do. Like Kate is doing macrame now and but she's also before that was doing what is sorry.
Jesper Conrad: I need to slide.
Cecilie Conrad: You tie knots on it's. It's not crochet, because it's actually tying knots and you make like bags and yes they hold like a plant, it comes out.
Samuel KingDavis: Yes, i understand it.
Cecilie Conrad: I know what it is.
Jesper Conrad: It was just the official term, i didn't recognize And she's been.
Samuel KingDavis: She's been a master of cooking and baking for a long time now. So, and that's what I was speaking with her about, you know, all of those things come together Like if you, if you get really good at macrame, that's going to make your cooking better and like it all kind of. It's like an exponential kind of growth.
Cecilie Conrad: Yes, spirals in a way. Yeah.
Jesper Conrad: I agree. One thing I find fascinated when choosing to speak with an artist like you on our podcast is when we normally talk with people who on school or believe in on schooling or self directed learning. In people's mind and also maybe in my mind before learning was something done in school And there is almost this I will now call it a stigma button in my world, misunderstanding that, oh, if you want to be good at something, you need to find an education to do it. I hear you telling you at some point your wife back then girlfriend said what about character drawing? and you went and found a book and now it's a big part of your living. Yeah, yeah, it's my whole living.
Samuel KingDavis: Yeah, that's my definitely my. 99% of the money I earned comes from that, yeah.
Jesper Conrad: And it came from picking up a Mad Max books and just drawing drawing. But it's yeah. I think it makes me that people think, oh, I need to be, I want. At one point when somebody says I want this profession, we all sent them through schools. But if they want to be artists, we just think they can do it somehow. So then you want to be a carpenter, then you need to go to school. It's weird.
Samuel KingDavis: Well, the school system. You guys probably know more about this than I do, but there was the famous line by Rockefeller who said we want a nation of workers, not thinkers, and he was one of the architects of the original school system in the, i guess, the turn of the century, and basically it was really based on the Ford Motor Company model of the symbol line. So it's like, ok, they all go to this class, this grade, they all go to this class, that grade, and so we need mathematics and we need the basic kind of understanding. But you don't need to do it that way. You don't need to do it in, where you're being trained to sit down for eight hours a day. I mean, i think we can all agree that that's just not natural for most kids to sit down for that long, and that's really not how real learning happens.
Cecilie Conrad: Anyway, sorry, I'm just saying that probably not natural for anyone to sit down and obey someone else's idea of what they should spend their time doing for eight to ten hours a day. It's not even just eight hours in school, because then there's the homework and some schools can have like play groups, and they have this social. They call it social fascism, like they try to intervene with what people do in their so-called free time.
Samuel KingDavis: Yeah, yeah, it's also a regurgitation of information. I think that's the big part about school, that is not, that's the word, i don't know.
Cecilie Conrad: Regurgitation, what does?
Samuel KingDavis: that mean It's like All.
Cecilie Conrad: To repeat Send you this information.
Samuel KingDavis: It's like, okay, here's the raw information, and then tomorrow we're going to have a test and you have to like keep it in your memory for long enough and to write it down, and then, once you write it down, it's gone. you know, yeah, and that's obviously how people learn.
Jesper Conrad: Absolutely not. I still have more questions about the character Joanne. Okay, Yeah, yeah. Which is? how much of a seasonal work is it? Can you work the whole year around? It's the bridge so popular that that works.
Samuel KingDavis: You could, but it's weather dependent, you know. So basically I take I take January, like mid-January January 15th to January, february, march till about March 15th, so I take about two months completely off. Yeah, i wish I could have more work in the winter, but I actually just started the event booking agency now. So now when companies want artists, like I, have an agency that books artists around Europe for those events. We just finally got that off the ground. But even that's A lot of the events are requested in my high season so I'm just sending other artists there because I can't really do it any minute. But the work in June, july, august, i mean I'm working so many hours a week that I kind of need those two months to rest in the winter.
Samuel KingDavis: Yeah, It's tricky because you have to kind of, You still have to sleep and you still have to eat and have some day off. So I take Wednesdays off but you get burnt out really easily. And another interesting thing, speaking of marketing but let's call it like emotional marketing or like intuitive emotional marketing is like when I take a break and I go Into nature and spend time with the family, or we go to the beach for three days or something and then I come back. My business is just crazy. It's way better because people can feel my mood. They can feel that I'm in a good mood and I'm talking and I'm engaging. When I'm burnt out, I'm just I'm staring at my phone or I'm reading a book. I'm not interested in it.
Cecilie Conrad: You're probably not free there. So how do you handle? I've been to the beach and I've been to many other really tourist crowded places as we travel full time And obviously I enjoy visiting these highlight places in Europe. You want to see the Eiffel Tower and you want to see whatever, but I find the mass tourism can be a little. It's overwhelming, and obviously I'm there as a tourist, so I can't judge the others for being there. We all want to see it. But at the same time I really feel exhausted, emotionally or energetically in a way, after spending just one day in these mass tourist places, even if I'm happy, even if I'm Yeah, we were just in Rome for Easter. Obviously there was 100,000 million trillion people there. Yeah, obviously it's Rome and Easter, and we even went to hear the Pope's speech, just like everyone else.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah.
Cecilie Conrad: And I'm happy doing it and I'm happy all the others got the chance. But when I hit the pillow at night I'm almost shaking with exhaustion from just being around so many people and all of their vibes and all of their moods. Yeah, how do you master sitting on that bridge?
Samuel KingDavis: Think about it like this If you have trained your brain to instantly analyze faces, think about it like that That analysis is happening 10,000 times a day. It's like, oh, that's why I can't even look, i just have to look at my book And then, if someone comes, i say, okay, have a seat. And then I turn my back to the crowd. Yeah, so I think that when I Because, speaking of self-directed learning, i've always been fascinated with human behavior Maybe it's the sales background that got me interested, but psychology and sociology and how people make decisions And yeah, i don't know exactly I lost my point where I was going with that.
Jesper Conrad: Looking at it and analyzing them.
Samuel KingDavis: I just find it really Oh, that's what I was going to say I find it fascinating to watch crowd behavior and human behavior, depending on the weather and what day of week it is, and that kind of thing. So, wow, i lost my point again, see I keep going on the side, but it's losing my point No, it's okay, But easy and hard.
Jesper Conrad: I think this question is how hard is it?
Cecilie Conrad: How do you handle it? And now that you've talked about it a little bit, i think one big difference is that you're at the same place all the time, so you have seen the bridge before. It's not like you're overwhelmed with the context. My question was the amount of people is that? Do you have some kind of filter or what do they call it Force field? they have the superheroes, Some kind of bubble. You said you turn your back to the smart. Yeah, to just get some sort of I don't know.
Samuel KingDavis: Some space or some kind of pseudo privacy or something.
Cecilie Conrad: It's a lot of hours in a big crowd, that's just what. I thought.
Samuel KingDavis: What I was going to say now, i remember, is that when I look and study human behavior, i always lately have been thinking how does this relate to human evolution? How is this behavior connected to something that we exhibited when we were hunter-gatherers or before civilization?
Cecilie Conrad: I would be very interested in the answer to that.
Samuel KingDavis: Well, i have only my theory, which is that we used to live. When you look at tribal societies, they only live with 60 people, top 60, maybe 80 people And usually once they get to 100, 120, they break off and they form a different tribe. So I think, evolutionarily, looking at 100,000 people a week is pretty. We're just not evolved for that. It's really hard to process that amount because we don't know the people. They're strangers Deep down in our limbic system. They might be a threat. So we have to analyze, make sure they're not carrying any weapons. I think all that happens below the conscious level. So, yeah, i mean it's really important for my energy and really important for my just psychological health to create that bubble And that really just comes from taking an hour break. Sometimes I'll walk over to the park and just lay in the grass with my shirt off. I'll just lay in the grass barefoot and connect with it.
Samuel KingDavis: Grounding, or I'll go to a place that I know is quiet and I'll have a quiet coffee and just buy myself. And if I'm on the bridge and I really got to stay there, i'll just I'll read, or I'll try to get a customer so I can turn my back to the massive crowd that's like constantly flowing behind me.
Jesper Conrad: So yeah, so you place, if I remember it correctly, when you draw, you have your back against the crowd. Yeah, yeah, oh, yeah, yeah. That's why how it works You can see the person and see your progress and then enjoy the progress being made, but you don't need to face them. No, no, i'm just. I find it fascinating. How can you switch it off? Or are you looking at me with a big nose, a bigger beard?
Cecilie Conrad: Big beautiful.
Samuel KingDavis: I think I can switch it off, like consciously, you know, but it's always, you know, my brain is just trained like that, so it's always. I can always just draw it, you know.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, i was just imagining you walking around at a party and you see everybody like a Roger Rabbit character just lying silently inside.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, That's our profession. They shape us Like you can't switch off the marketing guy. You keep thinking about how people work crowds and how they sell things and how you could upgrade and how and I can't switch off my reading of people- Yeah, that's right, you did marketing, he does marketing and I'm a psychologist and I can't not be a psychologist for two hours.
Cecilie Conrad: Obviously, emotions and the empathy is always open and I listen to all these. I'm not like working or trying to analyze, but obviously it's part of who I am. That's what I know, it's my filter.
Samuel KingDavis: So that's my world, you're measuring it through the framework of everything that you've learned before that.
Cecilie Conrad: You can't unlearn it.
Jesper Conrad: So, for example, if we are in a big crowd and somebody maybe is not in the best mentally stable situation in their life, it's easier for me to shut it out the energy they have than for Cecilis.
Cecilie Conrad: You can be drained afterwards because It's like this radio signal just goes on and on and it's maybe not. Maybe I could be, let's say, at a wedding in a very formal situation. I'm just a wedding guest and I clearly see that someone in the crowd is struggling, but I'm not there to interfere, or It's not my place to do anything about it, but I see the problem, especially with real heavy stuff like psychosis.
Cecilie Conrad: I feel it coming. It's almost like a sensation. I know it's there and it's a little hard for me to handle. I can't switch that off. I will feel it for the entire duration of that party. I'll know it's there And when I come back.
Jesper Conrad: I'll be lost there.
Cecilie Conrad: And obviously I just read the situation with my glasses on, that's just. Yeah, you can be an artist wherever you go and you will see the world from your perspective. Our profession becomes part of how we can even perceive the world around us. There are some things. I just don't notice them at all because I have. Just like some people know what cars are driving by. They could say it's a BMW. whatever I can say it's blue?
Samuel KingDavis: Yeah, i wouldn't know.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah.
Samuel KingDavis: There's this quote that this makes me think of, and I think it was Lao Tzu, the guy who wrote The Art of War. It doesn't really matter who it was, maybe Confucius, but the quote was the highest form of intelligence is objective observation. I actually think the real quote was the highest form of intelligence is observation. But I guess I added the word objective in there, because if we are observing through our filter it's not real objective observation. And for me this has been really important. I did a meditation retreat of the Pasadena meditation for 16 days. I was there And that really gave me I feel like a superpower, i guess, where I'm able to observe the feeling without attaching to the feeling and I'm able to name what it is And I can still be affected by it. But I can kind of keep it over here.
Cecilie Conrad: I have some kind of observational power over it, your feeling or the feeling you observe in someone else you're talking about now.
Samuel KingDavis: Well, what am I feeling Like if I observe something and then I get a feeling from that I can say, oh, concern, concern, concern. You know, that's the meditation teaches you to name it three times. Anxiety, anxiety, anxiety. And then I have a choice Like do I want to engage with this anxiety Or do I want to, or how do I want to handle this? You know, am I responsible for this anxiety? Or you know what I mean. I have a moment where I can actually choose, as opposed to just reacting.
Cecilie Conrad: I think the very interesting thing it teaches us to meditate is exactly this distance between being like pure existence and then all the things that are going on, that I'm here regardless of what emotion I have. I'm here regardless of my thoughts. I'm here regardless of whatever perception I would have here, see, feel, smell. I'm just here. And there is something we tend to think that we are what we feel or what we perceive or what is going on, and that slaves us in a way to the physical existence, whereas if we meditate I learned to do it in 60 seconds when I had four small children I realized I don't have half an hour. I never have half an hour.
Cecilie Conrad: I need to learn to do this like this like in two breaths, And I, because that's what I'll get. So I I call it the 60 second fix. But if I can make that distance, then everything just flows, because then I'm, I'm me here in pure existence And I actually say I can engage with what's going on, but it's not pushing me around, because I'm here And I hold the what's that called?
Samuel KingDavis: The wheel. Yeah, sorry my language, you're big enough. You're big enough because, if you're, if our consciousness is really not our consciousness, it's just consciousness.
Samuel KingDavis: Consciousness I agree, we really tune into that and we can observe things from from a state of consciousness. We can experience that feeling, but we can also experience this feeling and that feeling and we're big enough for all of it, so, and we don't have to attach to any specific one. So that's another thing, that that helped with what we're talking about as far as, like, how we're observing the world through these filters. When I, when I see something and I can recognize that as, oh, i'm seeing it from that perspective because I grew up this way and because I have this training and that's why I'm but I don't need to react to that, you know I can observe that, but that's that's not who I am. I am consciousness, just being experienced through this vessel, you know. So, anyway, that's my spiritual perspective.
Cecilie Conrad: I totally agree with that. Come on.
Jesper Conrad: I have a question about the. When we met you on the bridge and talked a little bit with you, i was like, oh, he speaks good English from a guy from Prague. That's how smart, Yeah, yeah yeah, very smart, no, but but how did the Czech Republic happen for you and your wife? Why? why did have you ended up there?
Samuel KingDavis: Yeah, that was kind of a random choice. We I studied in Vienna and I fell in love with it, but this thing happened where I I really intended to just live in Vienna, but I had to come home to graduate and finish all my thesis and all that stuff. So whenever that was finished, i had already kind of gotten comfortable back in my home city. I got back in my bubble, you know, and I'm like, oh, i've traveled to Italy in Vienna, that's okay, i'll just stay in St Louis. And Kate and I watched a special about a couple who they had a baby, i think, at one year old, and they traveled the world with that baby, and it was a TED talk. And yeah, i said, well, what do you, what do you think about that? And she said, okay, let's do it.
Samuel KingDavis: So we saved our money for a year. We like arranged everything for a year, saved our money, and then got married and just moved to Prague. And we picked Prague because it was in central Europe. It wasn't Vienna, but it was in central Europe. And they had an English teaching program, a certification to teach English here, and we knew we needed a job if we were going to be, like, living and working abroad And yeah. So we both did that program and I tried the teaching thing and didn't like it And I had already been practicing caricature So and then Kate just kept teaching So and at one point she was doing these spray paint planets. Have you ever seen the people do this real fast? She was getting really good at that. Actually that was. I was really impressed with where she like her progress on that. But they banned all street art in Prague. So like in Old Town Square there were like jugglers and musicians and magicians and circus acts and artists and they banned all of it. So she had to go back to teaching English.
Jesper Conrad: Shame on them. Yeah, that's sad because we just enjoyed it.
Cecilie Conrad: I could do with less of the spray painters. Yeah, It's just we it's everywhere and it's the same thing Would be nice with some jugglers and some magicians and just some other painters in the streets. It seems like they're taking over. Maybe they're making really good money. I don't know.
Samuel KingDavis: You probably saw that in Rome.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, yeah, we saw it in Rome, we saw it in, we saw it everywhere We saw it in mostly in Rome.
Jesper Conrad: Oh it was in Rome. There was two guys right next to each other.
Samuel KingDavis: Yeah, Yeah, i think I saw the same guys.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, yeah, and then they swirled the bottle and little fire and stuff like that Yeah, i do enjoy it I think it's a lot of spray paint and not too much other. No, but one of them did a thing where I was almost offended on the customer side. She bought, you know, the Colosseum and before she had put it in her bag he just took out another one, finished and placed it exactly the same, and I was like you need to give him them time to enjoy that they have bought this special one.
Samuel KingDavis: Yeah.
Jesper Conrad: Unique, and it was not unique at all. But it is a living and it's still a crowd, pleases.
Cecilie Conrad: I 100% appreciate someone makes their own living from doing something they like doing. I wonder what's underneath the whole system of street artists. How do you get legalized? How do you handle the police? Because there must be other artists out there who can do other things than spray paint, and I see very rarely the caricature. There was one in Rome though. Yeah, there was one, he's the Roman one.
Jesper Conrad: He told me yeah, it was just a gray It was not amazing.
Samuel KingDavis: You know, when I was in Rome they had. I always look for a caricature artist on the street when I go and I found there was, like it looked like maybe some Chinese guys or something, and I went. I looked at their board and they had a drawing of my friend's artwork on their board And I go and then I saw how he was drawn.
Samuel KingDavis: I'm like, no, absolutely no way he drew any of these paintings on the board. Because, first off, i know two of the images by heart. I know one guy who made it personally. Yeah, and I go, I go, that's a really good painting. Did you make that? He goes, yeah, yeah, yeah, sit down, sit down, sit down, like no thanks. And then I showed my friend. You know, that's another thing about being connected in the caricature community is they'll share stuff like that, like the same guy who whose artwork got stolen in Rome. He posted a picture a month or two after that of him like with his arm around an artist that stole his artwork, like on the board, you know. So that's a common thing. You know, even one guy on the bridge has a drawing still up by Tom Richmond, the guy who wrote that book.
Jesper Conrad: So that's unfair, That's fake marketing.
Samuel KingDavis: It's not okay Yeah it's not not a cool button, but yeah, the thing about back to the point of mastery you know, there's people who figure out like just about what they need to sell the thing And then they just stop there And they just stay at that point forever. And I think that that's what I saw, that on the street. Actually, before Kate started doing spray painting, we both went to school for fine arts. So I said, you know, these guys are making these spray things, but they're they're really not that good. They're just like it's like a parlor trick.
Samuel KingDavis: I said that you could definitely do better than that, because she trained painting, you know. So she was really making these incredible compositions and everything and unique stuff. It wasn't just like templates, you know, each one was unique And yeah, but but yeah, you see that on the street, especially with caricature artists, you know, and it's not a judgment on them, it's just, you know, it's just easy to fall into that trap, like why would you try to change and get better? Why would you risk customers not liking it in order to grow, if they're buying it all the time?
Jesper Conrad: you know, the market is kind of like determining their artistic difference between making money and making art, or just have this inner, inner drive to grow and get better and learn.
Cecilie Conrad: I still appreciate people who work the street And remember the jazz trio we saw in Rome. They clearly they played for 10, 15 minutes each place. They kept playing. You know, going back to things people would recognize and they had this whole show going on. That was very efficient, but it was very nice music.
Cecilie Conrad: And I think it's so much better than I don't know giving up At least these people. They're doing something for the money. I actually enjoy the music, even though it's not maybe the most amazing jazz music I ever heard in my life. I walk the street, i recognize something is nice music, sunshiney. So I don't want to be judgmental. I will say it's not fine arts, it's not very creative And, as I stay in the same place for 10 days. I heard the same music.
Cecilie Conrad: But I like the initiative That's what I'm trying to say, And I don't mind the pleasing, because it is a big crowd of tourists that they're to enjoy. They didn't buy a jazz music ticket and sat down to you know have a jazz experience.
Cecilie Conrad: They just walk the street. So maybe in the same way, some of the caricature draws or the spray painters do the same thing over and over. They make a great show, but people enjoy that show. Yeah, i'm trying to judge, i don't really want to judge it. I can see the difference between fine art and the show. Yeah, but a show is not a bad thing. Big pocketing is a bad thing.
Samuel KingDavis: That is a hard like. that is like a challenge or a struggle that I've had because I trained in fine arts and I know about art history and I know all these amazing artists that don't do caricatures, they're painters or portrait artists or whatever. And then I'm on the street and I'm like making a funny face, But I think I've always went into that.
Samuel KingDavis: I've always like went into that A good, funny face, thank you. But I've always had the attitude of like this is a fine art. Like at first, when I was doing it I thought, oh, this is just kind of like a maybe like a trick. I knew the the significance of caricature and magazines and political caricatures and all that, so I knew that it had some significance. But Yeah, i guess I kind of thought when I was beginning and looking at my drawings I'm like, oh, these are crap, this is just like a parlor trick. Maybe eventually I'll get into a gallery or eventually I'll be a political cartoonist.
Samuel KingDavis: And then when I joined the International Society and met all these amazing people, amazing artists, i'm like this is actually a real fine art. You know, like if I can make a amazing painting in 30 minutes of these two people and it's funny and humorous and creative, then like that's really impressive. That's more impressive to me than someone who spends 80 hours on a painting. You know, of course it's going to look good. You spent 80 hours on it, you know. Yeah, yeah, i think that's always helped me to like keep the bar as high as I can, you know what do you do to pass on the gift if you meet other who are interested?
Jesper Conrad: Have you told others in the art of caricature or what do you do?
Samuel KingDavis: Yeah, i've done workshops. I have two online classes for clay caricatures and then just drawing caricatures. I'm probably too enthusiastic about sharing it. I think I probably have scared some people off because I know like so much about it. I like overwhelm them, i think. But yeah, anyone who's interested in it, i'm definitely like happy to share with them, but I still haven't found anybody that isn't already doing it. That is like really wants to dedicate to it, and that's the tricky thing. I think that definitely most of the artists on the bridge are portrait artists that draw caricatures because people want caricatures And there's nobody up there, maybe aside from myself. That's like formally trained as like specifically for a caricature. So, yeah, i wish I had more minions, disciples.
Cecilie Conrad: But it is also a very good way of learning to have a master to study with. Yeah, so if anyone out there would like to study. They should.
Jesper Conrad: Go to a prof.
Cecilie Conrad: They should download TikTok.
Samuel KingDavis: Yeah, download TikTok unless you have to, not unless you want the Chinese government in your pockets.
Cecilie Conrad: No, The question is do we already have that?
Jesper Conrad: Probably.
Samuel KingDavis: That's a different podcast.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, i agree, we actually also have to.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, we should, we have, we are right now. We are in a. When we record this, we are in a castle in Normandy where there's a world school meetup, with a lot of traveling families who meet up.
Cecilie Conrad: And for Yeah, we'll be 50 families in total. Yeah.
Jesper Conrad: So we don't see our kids all day, we just make sure to make enough food for them.
Cecilie Conrad: Be it more time, but there is a group going to see a movie and I promise to be there to buy the tickets because, I'm the only one who speaks French. Oh, okay, so if you, have some questions for us, then maybe we should appreciate that. Should we just do another?
Jesper Conrad: like 10 minutes for it. If you have any questions for us before, we need to.
Samuel KingDavis: Yeah, i probably talked too much, sorry, i should have said no, no, no, no, no.
Cecilie Conrad: Just trying to be nice. No, i think we have to be happy listening to you. That's why we're here.
Samuel KingDavis: I think my, can you hear my dog?
Jesper Conrad: back there. Yeah, we love dogs, so that's fine. Maybe he sounds like he has a question. Let me just shut the door. Hold on, of course.
Cecilie Conrad: Think of a season, the fatty.
Samuel KingDavis: I think that it's like I think there's maybe too many questions. I think I probably have to go to the blog and read more and stuff. But yeah, i guess I'm just interested in like. It's been 10 years since you guys have have decided to be nomadic.
Cecilie Conrad: No five, five nomadic 10 on schooling But actually 12. Yeah.
Jesper Conrad: I like how we can schedule another podcast, yeah. Actually, because sometimes people ask Hey, we don't hear a lot about you, but we are very interested in people So we like to listen to people. So if you are up for it, we could schedule a call in some weeks where you can ask us. Then we will be your interview guests for our own podcast. If that could be fun, yeah.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, why not?
Samuel KingDavis: Yeah, actually I stopped the famous one on dead podcasts. I just did that during a COVID, so I just did that for a year. But I'm the same way. I'm really interested in other people's, like journeys and what they do. Yeah, that sounds good.
Cecilie Conrad: I'm a little sad to cut it off, but I have, I don't know, 25 children. who needs a ticket for the movie?
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, i want to buy it So.
Cecilie Conrad: I would be a little.
Jesper Conrad: No, no, no. So let's do that, Let's do that before the movie starts. But then to make the official goodbye here, then if people want to see your work, because now they have been listening to a podcast, just stop the tick. So where do they go? My best recommendation would be travel to Prague and meet you, going to the bridge and get a portrait. But besides that, where can they find you and see the work you do?
Samuel KingDavis: Yeah, probably the best is just Instagram. So it's Instagram and it's King Davis art and it's King Davis with an S, not King David, king Davis with, yeah, and you'll find me like that and that's my website and that's my tick tock and that's everything. just King Davis art.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, okay, but I will recommend to everybody really, next time you see a character, try to see how much that goes into getting the personality in there. I know for us it has been very interesting to hear and I thank you a lot for your time.
Samuel KingDavis: Yeah, definitely Thank you so much. Thank you very much.
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