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It’s the second time I meet CARLL CNEUT, for LECHAPERON. The first time we met over a good glass of La Boutine in Apéro d’Oc, but today Carll invited me to Moor&Moor over a cup of coffee (or two), in Ghent. The city where Carll lives and works when he’s not traveling abroad for his work as an illustrator. A very honored and rewarded illustrator who is known for his nostalgic images, the tiny details and his unique time-consuming ‘layer’-painting technique. It is still early morning and a warm summer breeze is already present. It’s was going to be a good day.

Knight Carll

No one knows, but years ago, there was a little knight, named Carll, who lived in Geluwe, an outlying village in West-Flanders, Belgium. He had two sisters who weren’t interested in the adventures of knight Carll that much, so he made up his own fantasy world. Growing up, knight Carll slowly disappeared, however the fantasy world he lived in is still subsisting nowadays in Carll Cneut’s head.

Today Carll shares his imaginary world with us through his many beautiful book illustrations. Even though his work is generally defined as nostalgic & melancholic, Carll isn’t engrossed with the past in daily life. On the contrary, he is a happy person who embraces life at 200%.

Carll Cneut Acryl paint

Maybe I put all of the sadness that I have in me in my drawings?

Willy the elephant

Throughout his childhood, it was clear that Carll wanted to use his creativity. He had decided to become a baker ‘to make the most beautiful pies ever’. I’m sure that his pies would have been the most beautiful ones in the world, but oh boy, are we glad it turned out differently! Cook, lawyer, architect, circus artist, … were also on his list of potential jobs. Eventually he started his career as a graphic designer and enrolled into the job of an illustrator rather by accident. A colleague fell ill, and Carll was asked to take over the illustration tasks. Since then he combined graphic design with some illustration assignments.

At first, illustrating was just a job to him. For years Carll has been struggling with how he wanted to fulfill the definition of the illustrator he wanted to be. At age of 30, ‘being an illustrator’ became real when ‘Willy’ was created. ‘Willy’ is a story about an elephant celebrating elements that make each person unique. This was Carll’s turning point.

“My first three books were illustrations in poetry books. Willy was the first book with a storyflow. This was the first time I really understood the work. As from that moment I also understood the illustrator I wanted to be. It is hard to explain, but everything fell together. I liked what I was doing and I felt I could really mean something as an illustrator.”

In 2000, the book Willy was awarded for ‘best illustration’ by Boekenpauw and many national and international awards followed over the next 15 years.

Willy the elephant
- Image book cover Willy, 1999 (De Eenhoorn) -

Brad Holland
- Brad Holland -

Try. Do. Do again. And again. Keep doing. Success.

Not many illustrators paint their work, but Carll is one of them. His early admiration for the American artist / illustrator Brad Holland was his motive to use paint for his drawings. Yes, Carll was talented. No, he wasn’t extremely good at painting nor did he have a lot of experience. But his ambitious nature and drive to succeed were determinative. It sounds very simple, but it wasn’t. Carll taught himself, with success, how to paint and it took years to master certain techniques.

Even today he’s still learning. With each new assignment Carll tries to improve his previous work. “That’s who I am”, he explains. “In everything I do, I try to improve and to challenge myself to do better. It overtakes me. And it never stops. I always want to achieve something, I set myself goals. Even when riding my bike in the city! (he laughs) I can’t explain why I’m being silly in that way, but that’s how it is. My biggest fear is the feeling of marking time. I think that deep inside, I am lazy. That’s why I disciplined myself to get up every morning and work until evening. If I don’t do it this way, I easily slip into doing nothing. And doing nothing feels uncomfortable to me.”


Reprint painting image ‘Blue bird’ by Carll Cneut for LECHAPERON
trade-16

signature-cc-1

Signature CC2

Perfectly imperfect.

Carll uses different layers when painting, most of the time with Acryl, to make his new high-textured world come alive. With every new assignment, Carll tries to capture the story in 15 or 16 essential images and defines an atmosphere. Then he begins to sketch, cut and paste the texts and pictures until the book is ‘finished’. That’s where the painting begins. At that moment he already exactly imagined how the picture will look like in the end. Every color, every detail, every space is pre-defined. The combination of subtle and saturated colors and his strong compositions make his drawings original and unique. He also literally invites and challenges the readers to create their own world by drawing incomplete pictures.

This whole process is very time-consuming. One book image can sometimes easily take one week to more than a month! If he could, Carll would change his working method, but he simply can’t. He tried it once, but he had to start all over again because he wasn’t satisfied with the result.

Be happy with what you have while working for what you want

It suddenly strikes me that many things in Carll’s life are the result of going along with his gut feeling: when starting a new collaboration for a book or a project, when selecting a story, when meeting people or discovering a new location. If it FEELS right, he’s very loyal to people, things and places. “I don’t need much to be happy. I don’t need to travel far. I like being where I am. Having my friends and family around, and being able to do what I like is perfect”.

If something is good, why should I look any further?

In my head exhibition

In my head

From December 2014 till May 2015 an inspiring exhibition from Carll took place in Ghent. People could wander around in his head. Literally. The exhibition offered people an insight in his fantasy world, his rich oeuvre as an illustrator, but also his daily life from childhood up to today. He also insisted on moving his atelier for almost 6 months to the exhibition in the St. Peter’s Abbey (it was a copy of his own atelier to give insight in how he works). It was overwhelming: 50.000 people visited the exposition and dropped by in his atelier to have a chat, to get their books signed or to see how Carll works.

We (husband, son and I) were also there. I have never ever seen so many smiling faces together during an exposition. Not one single negative comment was given. Carll recognizes that the success of this event was only made possible with the help and the support of many other people. “I can only explain how it was, but I can’t put into words how I experienced this. It was an intense period and I’m very glad that I had the opportunity to do this”, he says.

During the exposition, I noticed that many people called me Carll Cneut instead of Carll. It’s just Carll, you know. People from outside make the distinction between Carll the illustrator and Carll the person, but there is only one.

To Carll it was also striking to see how things grew organically. One day in his atelier a man took some paper, drew a bird and attached the drawing to the wall. Many others followed. His atelier became his own ‘golden cage’ surrounded by the many birds, drawn by people who admire his work.

Image Golden Cage Carll Cneut
Golden Cage image (2014, De Eenhoorn)

Carll Cneut's Golden Cage IN MY HEAD
Carll Cneut in his own ‘Golden cage’ during the ‘In my head’ exhibition (picture Flanders Today, Sept. 2015)

Regrets

There is one moment in his whole career where the younger Carll Cneut – flattered by the attention from outside – compromised on one of his works by giving in to other’s instructions. He still regrets this. It became his biggest lesson in work life, but also in life in general. He knows that he performs best when he feels that people trust him 100% and when he is allowed to be whom he is. Since then he always strives to stay true to himself.

Biggest achievement in life

When asking Carll about his biggest achievement in life until now, he answers the exposition IN MY HEAD in Ghent. Later on, when the recorder has stopped and we’re chitchatting in the sun, Carll comes back to this question and says “Maybe my biggest achievement in life is just ‘staying true to myself’ because I think I succeeded well in that part”.

Bye

Carll Cneut. There he goes. Always with a vivid pace. A great artist and a great person in one, who stands out because of his humility and humanity. “You sound very happy”, the husband says after spending my day in the presence of Carll Cneut. I smile. Apparently, that’s what Carll does to people…

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Shop Carll Cneut in our store

The maker Carll Cneut / Illustrator

I don’t need much to be happy ... having friends and family around and being able to do what I like is perfect.

  • Pencil drawing 2

    This is the second out of 12 various pencil drawings by illustrator Carll Cneut. Each drawing is a one of a kind and therefore unique. The pencil drawings are the result of various character studies. By focusing on the making process of a character and making it permanent by means of a pencil drawing, you are invited to look at the apparent simplicity with which a new character comes to life. These two characters are part of a new upcoming book by Toon Tellegen, wonderfully illustrated by Carll Cneut. Meet ‘Toad’ and ‘Carp’. More info about this one year project can be found below the pictures. 

    Details:

    • One of a kind
    • Measurements : 37 cm x 24.6 cm
    • Material : Sketch paper
    • Pencil drawing signed by Carll Cneut
    Maker: Carll Cneut

     250,00

    Potloodtekening 2 Carll Cneut
    POTLOODTEKENING 2 Carll Cneut

    Product Description

    From June 2017 until May 2018, illustrator Carll Cneut introduces 12 various pencil drawings via LECHAPERON. The introduction of these pencil drawings are a look behind the scenes of the creation of a character and it lets you get acquainted with different characters in their most pure form. This one year project presents you a piece of Carll Cneut, seen from another angle : stripped, unique and affordable.

    → Mark your calendar : every 15th of the month, a new sketch will be presented. Do not hesitate too long, because each drawing is a one of a kind ←

    In 2015, LECHAPERON already introduced the very first reproduction of an original work by Carll Cneut (‘de blauwe vogel‘) on the market in a limited edition series. The collaboration between the illustrator and LECHAPERON continues with this unique series pencil drawings and a new reproduction of the original painting ‘Heksenfee‘.


    I don’t need much to be happy ... having friends and family around and being able to do what I like is perfect.

    Carll Cneut / Illustrator
    Other works by

    Carll Cneut

    The product Pencil drawing 2
    by Carll Cneut  250,00

It’s happening right under my nose: a smile, memories, anecdotes, a critical remark go back and forth. And there is love and respect. For each other and their profession. And I observe, with amusement and a lot of admiration. In front of me is sitting the graphic duo Sanny Winters & Tim Oeyen. For years a phenomenon within the graphics domain. At the end of 2016, I appealed to them for an image for the “LECHAPERON & Friends” book. And I fell in love. With the apparent simplicity with which they create and tell stories, their critical and creative mind. And the humor. That, too. Sufficient reasons to give these two artists, and their work a special place in the LECHAPERON Gallery.

Sanny + Tim = Tim + Sanny

Have you ever thought about the font, color and size while reading a book? Have you ever felt the book cover or the paper inside? Have you wondered why a picture is to the left and not the right, with only white space around it? For many of us, it’s so evident that you forget that you look at true craftsmanship, knowledge, and expertise. It seems simple, but is actually complex.  Similarly, so are the designs of Oeyen & Winters.

With Sanny, there is no compromise. She goes straight to the core, making everything perfectly clear. Myself, I tend to devote more to it (Tim)

Oeyen & Winters’ work is smart. Thoughtful and bold. The boundary between book or object, lecture or artwork, beautiful images or a statement, is thin. Nothing is just that: everything has been considered. And nothing is just 'Sanny' or 'Tim', although especially Sanny is the face of the duo, and is better known to a wider audience. Her colorful typographic illustrations are very recognizable. And yet, for each design, counts the power of two. While she concentrates on the visual contents, he adds more to the structure and determination of the project, a trait that has reached fruition during Tim's role as art director for various magazines over the past 10 years (Knack, Weekend Knack, Humo, de Morgen, …). These ventures were in addition to their own agency. In order to have some financial security, but also because it is fun to do. “I just like to do a lot of things," said Tim.

At the end of 2016 it was decided to spend somewhat less time per week on such projects and to focus especially on the Oeyen & Winters agency. Everyone’s talents, and everyone’s interests. And in this case, their variety of talents is also perfectly complementary.

Tim always looks for and sees what is possible and what could still be better, and allows no challenge to stand in the way. He can assemble the right people for a job, instill them with confidence, and allow them the necessary freedom (Sanny )

New place, new approach

Previously, they simply lived and worked together in one house. This changed in 2016. “We have always been able to combine our work and private lives fairly well, but the children have grown up and ask more of us. The work never stops. We've been thinking about moving to another place for a long time, but now we finally cut the knot”. For some months now, the new Oeyen & Winters location has been a reality. At the end of the workday, family time is nog awaiting them only a few streets away. They love this new work environment, and feel it compels them to work even more efficiently.

Ivan Lendl

The Cafe", Tim and Sanny respond simultaneously to my question about whether they have a particular pattern for obtaining a final idea or result. Apparently the answer is yes. Next to their new workplace, the cafe is the best place for them to air their first ideas. For both, the growth of those ideas is the most enjoyable phase in the whole process. “The basic idea is to always try to tell a message in its simplest form as possible. Only a setting or a time spirit is stipulated, but not much more than this.”

During that creative phase, both use their critical, creative mind as the primary tool that directs and shapes. Together, each is greater than the sum of their individual parts . “I get better by working a lot", Tim says."Previously, you had the tennis players John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl. Well, I am the Ivan Lendl of us both. The result comes only by first working hard. Sanny steps in on day 3 and does something no one else can. That has always been the case. She is quicker in purifying the message and thinking about the form that comes along”. “Yes, but I stress a lot more than Tim!”, laughs Sanny.

I need a reference. For example I need that bookcase as a source of inspiration. Sanny doesn’t. It’s just in her. (Tim)

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Oeyen & Winters already have an impressive record and won a lot of awards. But they downplay this recognition. There are a lot of talented people who don’t win the prizes because they happen not to be part of the circuit. You can only win a prize when you registered for the award. It’s much more pleasurable, however, if, for example your work is positively assessed by an independent newspaper”, says Winters. What brings us immediately to a sensitive topic.

What follows is a fervent plea for the love of the profession: In the fashion industry or in product design, talented designers become involved with awards and a budget recognized and supported in order to mold their fame (inter)nationally. As far as graphic design in Belgium is concerned, such a broader level of support appears to be inadequate. That step-motherly treatment of the graphic world is, according to Oeyen, typical Belgian, and is based on the undervaluation of the graphic illustrator in the craft industry.

Tim : “Ensor and Magritte are recognized and known as important Belgian painters, but did you know that they were also graphic artists? We have such a rich history (i.e. the 300 years of book printing and family history in the Plantin Moretus Museum), but, unfortunately, do little with it. There is no or little support for graphic design in Belgium. In The Netherlands, such a thing is inconceivable. And just because there is no recognition or forum for graphic design in Belgium, a kind of DIY mentality has arisen, whereby people think that our work is no longer necessary. In Belgium people soon think "we’ll just do it ourselves", while those in Netherlands go to a graphic designer. And that’s a pity. An upgrade of our profession is badly needed.”

Everything we see is hiding something else (Magritte)

Time goes by. Various examples of designs and assignments are brought up during our conversation. And each time again I’m surprised by their personal style and critical and committed approach. Our work must be relevant in the sense that it does something, or we should be able to support something useful. It’s in little things you know. And the question or assignment may not be interchangeable. We always start with a blank sheet of paper. And yes, there must be a story: who are these people, what do they like, etc. Again, this is important to us.” When it comes to their own work, each image tells another story, contains a message or a reflection. Behold a glimpse of social commitment.

 

A vision, a critical view of the world, a frustration is always beautifully wrapped and imaged. It’s up to you, as a reader, to determine what you see or read. “That is as it should be," says Sanny. And so a bit of surrealism sneaks into their designs, challenging the spectators to discover a meaning themselves.

Bye

Yes, there is much that binds the Winters & Oeyen duo: memories of a student life together (and also, later, as husband and wife), their two children, and the search for the essence of the message. But, above all, the drive to create something more beautiful every time. For the customer and for themselves. But above all, for the profession. Because it deserves it.

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Shop Oeyen & Winters in our store

The maker Oeyen & Winters / Graphic design

The basic idea is to always try to tell a message in its simplest form as possible.

  • Poster Le Créateur (without frame)

    The poster Le Créateur is a limited edition series of 5 items. The image was created in 2012 as free work for the expo ’21’. Expo ’21’ was organised by the former Design Vlaanderen, celebrating 20 years of their Kwintessens Magazine. Several graphic designers were asked to design a poster for this event, representing their ‘personal statement’. The 5 last pieces are now exclusively for sale here at LECHAPERON. Continue to read to discover the meaning of the image. Maybe you recognise yourself in it.

    Details:

    Maker: Oeyen & Winters

     75,00

    5 in stock

    Buy this item
    Poster Le Créateur Oeyen & Winters
    Poster Le Créateur Oeyen & WintersPoster Le Créateur Oeyen & Winters

    Product Description

    The ‘little foolish man’ image of the poster Le Créateur is an interpretation, a personal statement by the designers, about their creative job as graphic designer : very often graphic design is a very demanding, labour intensive job that implies long working hours and low budgets. Therefore Oeyen & Winters integrated the letters Z O T (meaning ‘foolish’ in Dutch) in their typographical style as a starting point. “Because you have to be a little foolish to do this kind of job”. In addition to that, the word ‘ZOT’ also refers to the devotion and passion of this graphic duo for their job (‘crazy in love’ with their job) and the beauty that they can bring into the world through their profession. The text fragment of Erasmus ‘The Praise of Folly’ also refers to that.


    The basic idea is to always try to tell a message in its simplest form as possible.

    Oeyen & Winters / Graphic design
    Other works by

    Oeyen & Winters

    The product Poster Le Créateur (without frame)
    by Oeyen & Winters  75,00

Graphic designer Stephanie Specht lives in Antwerp, in an apartment on the 6th floor. And from there she sees the world. She sees things that you and I don’t see at first sight. Letters on buildings for example. She has a talent to make everything better and stronger. Not only her career, but also herself.  This woman travelled, saw and felt amazing things and she started all over again. Since then her life fits in a suitcase. Her feeling of being home depends on the people surrounding her. To all graphic lovers, here’s to you: a conversation about feeling home, spirituality, beauty and people.

Gut feeling

Call it intuition. The feeling of knowing something that you could not know about rationally. It’s not easy in a society where people keep rushing, where only performance counts and matter is prioritized to feelings. Although it’s still a part of every human being, not everyone can feel it. But Stephanie and her sister do. “My parents got divorced when I was 12 years old. On my mother’s side of the family everyone was interested in spirituality and intuition. I grew up with it and I notice that intuition is something that is getting a place in our society only since a few years. But to us, following our gut had always been normal.”

Kunstmuseum, Basel, iArt, Leucht Fassade

As an independent at her own design bureau, Stephanie mainly works with smaller businesses and individuals. This inner compass shows the directions to go. Like it did when she started to work as an independent. Stephanie didn’t grow up in a family full of entrepreneurs. Working as an independent had never been something she actually longed for. But it did become her path. The freedom that comes with it, is worth a lot to her and she wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

My work is my life and my life is my work. Work and life are one. My work is my passion.

Non-graphic-design

Back in the days, she would have answered ‘architect’ when someone asked her “what would you like to become when you’re older?” “But I’ve never been good at maths. I finally ended up doing graphic design but I actually got my inspiration from non-graphic-design sources like for example arts and architecture”. The sightseeing of buildings, lectures and books about architecture always have been unfailing sources of inspiration for her work when it comes to spaces, shapes and surfaces. Ever since she was young, Stephanie had an incredible fascination for letters and, yes, letters on buildings. Especially buildings dating from the ‘40’s. “Earlier, architects used to put their names – or signature – on buildings. Often at eye height but apparently, people hardly notice it. But I do. And I love it!”

New York

Unrest and love. The two ingredients that drove Stephanie abroad a few years ago. New York eventually became her new home where she quickly built up a new life, also professionally. Traveling forced her to live with less. "It's healthy to have as little as possible." The essence of her life fits in a suitcase: laptop, some clothing, music - especially music - and a few books. She doesn’t need much to adapt. Wherever she is.

I couldn’t constantly just take everything with me. Due to moving several times, I needed the freedom to own nothing.

New York. The city where anything goes. The city that gives and takes. Same with Stephanie. A relationship breakup brought her back home. Back to Belgium. She had to leave everything there and had to rebuild everything here. Until then, Stephanie had always been busy with other people and their work. Trying to fit in. After that breakup she had to lean on herself. Only herself: “As a person, you’re in your purest form at the very moment when you have nothing left and when you can’t go any deeper. When everything has slipped away, only the “real you”, your true soul of being a human remains. When there’s nothing you can hide any longer. Believe me, that’s the moment when you reach the essence.”  A big clean up, so to speak.

This attitude still influences her life philosophy nowadays. The result? Applying this philosophy more than ever before. Yes, the earlier restless feeling is gone. She doesn’t feel the urge to go to other places anymore. “I probably won’t be staying here forever, but for the first time in a very long time, I can say that I like to live and work here, at this place. I’m feeling good. Not just because of the amazing atmosphere of the city but because of the people surrounding me.”

I like clean and ‘free’ spaces. Too much clutter limits my creativity. A chair, some greenery and a lantern. There’s actually nothing more I need.

The picture is perfect

Stephanie’s visual expression has strongly evolved throughout the years. In the beginning of her carreer, there was a strong urge to survive as an independent to refuse as few tasks and jobs assignments as possible. That same urge to survive was replaced by assignments in which she could express herself more. Her current imagery mainly reflects a typographic style. Not by accident are “corporate identity and book design” her favourite areas of interest in which she has specialized throughout the years.

Back in the days my drawings weren’t full, but there was simply too much on it. Illustrative work – free work – is my way to express my ideas and it’s mostly the result of pre-designs of assignments for a customer.

Basic shapes determine the essential style of Stephanie. Currently she uses a symmetric or asymmetric construction. A seemingly stable construction on paper that would instantly collapse if it was 3D.

Optical balance print - limited edition for LECHAPERON

I do not consider my free work as art. I prefer to see it as research. Many designers make illustrations that stand on itself. According to me, this merely agrees with the definition of art”. Stephanie mainly observes art with an aesthetic eye. The message isn’t the priority. The same is valid for her own illustrations. They are what they are. “Me, myself, I can see something in it, but it is mainly the aesthetic aspect that has to be good. The message is of less importance.” The image just has to be right. Only then the image is finished.

My current work is a lot more simplistic and minimalistic than back in the days. I’ve started to put more and more attention into the essence and purification of the image.

Her motivation? “To make things stronger. Better. Better in a sense of ‘what’s the essence’? Also on this level, I applied a big clean-up.”

Daku typographic-sundial-01

Half heart

It wasn’t love. It was the city that forced Stephanie to live with a half heart since she came back to Belgium. “’Half Heart’ describes a feeling of belonging everywhere and nowhere at the same time. The feeling that you belong to more than one place and how you try to handle this feeling.” This ‘half heart’ has inspired Stephanie to search for people who share this feeling. Once she has collected enough stories, she will publish them in a book “Half Heart”. (Do you recognize yourself in this feeling of having a “half heart”? Share your story here)

Lonely? No way. I do miss my neighbours of my time in Studio Specht – we became real friends – but whenever I walk outside here, I’m all surrounded by people again. So actually I’m never alone you know.

Goodbye

I’ve seen it already 3 times since my visit to the 6th floor. Letters on buildings. In the meantime I continue thinking about what I would put in my suitcase. What I do know is which text I will put on the its outside: ‘detach from the outcome’.

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Shop Stephanie Specht in our store

The maker Stephanie Specht / Graphic designer

Due to moving several times, I needed the freedom to own nothing.

  • Optical balance print

    The style of this exclusive optical balance print is determined by the basic shapes and colours. It reflects the designers aesthetic eye for beauty and it refers to her life philosophy of ‘less is more’ and finding balance in life. Did you notice the optical illusion of this seemingly stable construction? This composition works on paper but would instantly collapse if it were 3D.

    Details :

    • Limited edition series of 10 prints
    • Measurements : A3 format (29,7 cm x 42,0 cm)
    • Material : Canson® infinity edition etching RAG 310 paper (museum paper 100% cotton, high paper shade stability and a resistance to aging, Digigraphie label)
    • Colour : red, green, dark blue, white en grey (soft colours)
    Maker: Stephanie Specht

     100,00

    10 in stock

    Buy this item
    Print Optical Balance Stephanie Specht
    Print Optical Balance by Stephanie SpechtPrint Optical Balance Stephanie SpechtPrint Optical Balance Stephanie SpechtPrint Optical Balance Stephanie Specht

    Product Description

    The final composition and colours of this image are the result of Stephanie’s aesthetic eye. She looks at her work the way she looks at art. She observes and keeps on going until the image feels right. The message is of less importance. Her visual expression has strongly evolved throughout the years : more simplistic and minimalistic. For this print she used her typical style of basic shapes and colours, creating optical illusion of balance.

    The image was digitally printed on Canson® Infinity Edition Etching Rag paper, which is a 100% cotton Fine Art paper with a smooth texture, reminiscent of the original genuine etching and printmaking papers.This museum-grade paper offers a high paper shade stability and a resistance to aging by using natural minerals.


    Due to moving several times, I needed the freedom to own nothing.

    Stephanie Specht / Graphic designer
    The product Optical balance print
    by Stephanie Specht  100,00

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