Stickers are incredible vehicles to say something to the world. They’re small, they stick to things, you can hand them out…And they’re fun.

We get so many people who excitedly rush up to the booth, and say “I’ve seen these stickers everywhere. What is this about?” It gives us a moment to talk about it. We chat about the history (100 sticker in 2002 in Chicago, to now 2.

5 million stickers in 90+ languages around the globe. Large scale installations in Chicago & beyond, etc.) 

I love how collaborative you are with your work. Seeing so many different interpretations of your message must fill you with pride. What gave you the idea to create these group shows?

Holly used to put the stickers on her juvenile detention students’ ankle bands until the chief of corrections asked her to stop.

The You Are Beautiful project was officially born. Hoffman knew his simple message had reached a fever pitch when he started hearing urban legend-like stories about his own stickers. “People were seeing the stickers in states or countries I had never been to,” he says. “At one point, the sticker requests were so much that I had to take out a P.O. box.”

Big things! We are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the You Are Beautiful project with a massive exhibition in early February in Chicago. We are using the raw spaces of the Green Exchange, exhibiting 2 massive murals (8′ x 450′ & 10′ x 100′), as well as a host of new work. 

It might be a surprise to the outside world, but for those that know me – I’m more of a realist than an optimist. Or even a positive pessimist. Hope for the best, plan for the worst. To be honest, life can be really hard & hit you with all sorts of unfair stuff.

I’ve always made work to protest that, to be such a force of positivity, it’ll hopefully knock negativity on it’s ass.

We thought it’d be a good idea to show you the man behind You Are Beautiful. He has a great story and is so inspiring to know. Hopefully it rubbed off on you reading this interview.

When artist Matthew Hoffman moved to Chicago in 2003, he wanted to spread some love. Little did he know that his good intention would become a worldwide movement. Then 23 years old, Hoffman set out to craft a simple, easy-to-share message. “I wanted to create the perfect positive message that you could share with everyone,” he says.

It also keeps going/giving every time someone shares a sticker. Someone sees a sticker, enjoys an interaction or a moment, looks up what it’s about, gets their own stickers, and the chain of positivity repeats.

It’s a message people love to share.

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What side do you prefer? The everyday Clark Kent, fighting design crime one letterhead at a time or the Artist Superman, making the art world a safer place?

Billy & Zissou are just great guys. They’re highly proficient artists in their own right, and are working hard to foster a community of artists & designers (young humans). They’re doing a good thing for the right reason. 

I prefer to work with people that are inspiring & engaging, simply put – just good people. And I prefer to do things that make me laugh out loud. I love a good prank, or “dad jokes”. So, whatever arena it’s in – that’s what I look for.

(The good people thing, not necessarily dad jokes).

Despite the initial design flaw, Hoffman says, the stickers were a hit. “The reaction was surprisingly positive,” he says. “It just gave people a smile and a little extra burst of energy.”

From coast to coast, and around the world, the wonderfully positive, smile-inducing You Are Beautiful Sticker Campaign has evolved from a pocketful of stickers into a universal public art campaign, manifesting block long murals, public installations, and exhibitions at cultural institutions involving thousands of artists.

After playing around with various phrases, Hoffman struck gold with three little words: “You are beautiful.” “When the phrase hit me, I just felt like it was the absolute perfect thing,” he says. “Everyone’s beautiful in their own way.”

It’s a funny story. We’ve always had a PO Box and email, where people send in photos of stickers they’ve come across. In 2004, I received an email from Jacob and his friends. They went to a bridge overpass in San Francisco with party streamers & spelled out You Are Beautiful.

They sent me a copy of the Bay Area Paper, where it made the front page. I was blown away.

He printed 100 stickers and started posting them in common areas around the city. “I had them ordered green so that they would sort of blend into lampposts, but they came back brown,” he says. “They were kind of terrible, but I ran with it and handed them out among friends.”

Interviews Tyler Stout You Are Beautiful Prolly is not Probably Skinner David Lanham Gig Art Posters Supersonic Electronic All Hail the Black Market Hydro74 Ty! Billi Kid Shawnimals Cryptik Mishka NYC ABCNT Travis Millard Dronex Jose Pulido Marq Spusta 1000 Styles Chump Magic Zombie Yeti Citizen Panic Jimbo Philips

He is currently working on a book to document the project’s journey, and an art exhibit featuring You Are Beautiful runs through March 7, 2013, at Chicago’s Green Exchange. Still, Hoffman prefers to keep a low profile, wanting people to focus not on him but the message. “I’ve always said that I see myself as the custodian of the project,” he says. “I keep the lights on and the floor clean.”

I also think more and more, things are going to blend so deeply in the future, it’ll be even harder to pick out differences. Some day, hopefully we can all be seen as humans – better yet, all equal humans.

Why can’t we all just get along? I say that light heartedly, and also rather seriously. I just call myself a custodian of the project. I just keep the lights on and the floors clean. 

I’d say, pretty much the same thing as the answer above. Great people growing together, having fun, and helping each other to carve out a living. Knowing that it’s a two way street, and you’re both doing each other a favor.

Designers and Artists have been at war for thousands of years yet you seem to successfully have a foot in both camps, what s your opinion of this? Do you consider yourself one or the other?

Australia Brazil Canada Deutschland España France Ελλάδα (Greece) India Italia 日本 (Japan) 한국 (Korea) Maghreb Mexico Quebec United Kingdom United States South Africa

We printed some miniature clear vinyl bumper stickers for YAB years ago and we have supported the sticker campaign since it began… We’re so happy Matthew is making a book and we have some new clear vinyl stickers being printed to celebrate!

But I’m always trying to keep it fresh, reinvent & find unexpected ways to interact with people. They’re not content, and I’m not content to just do the same thing all the time. So I’ll keep experimenting, and find ways to keep me & others laughing.

I’ve kind of always seen this message as my protest song. I decided a long time ago that there’s enough negativity in this world, I’m not going to add to it.

We also launched a Kickstarter to create a book alongside the show, documenting the last decade. I spent a great deal of time crafting the video, and I feel it tells the story of the project (and the mission) better than it’s ever been told in the past. The book will go even further, showcasing many images that have never been seen publicly before.

3. if you could hand one of your stickers to any one person, who would it be ?

I’ve always designed You Are Beautiful stickers to purposely look generic and plain, to blend into their surroundings with other signage and labels. They become a positive intervention, when someone sees the message hiding in plain sight.

That might not be able to be said as the intention for all galleries or people. 

Keep in touch! Check out HuffPost OWN on Facebook and Twitter .

Matthew Hoffman’s story will be featured on “Super Soul Sunday” Feb. 24 at 11 a.m. ET on OWN.

Remember! This wonderfully positive campaign needs our help! Please Donate to the You Are Beautiful Sticker Book Kickstarter Campaign and make sure to visit the You Are Beautiful Website!

10 Questions with the Creator of the “You Are Beautiful” Sticker Campaign By Zoltron Black Jan 29th Interviews Comments

From there, Hoffman posted a single-page website where people could request their own batch of stickers by mail. Soon he started seeing his message everywhere — including other countries. “In the first batch of 100 stickers, some made it all the way to China,” he says. “People would put the stickers up, send in photos, and all of a sudden I began receiving photos from all over the world.”

I think a lot of us struggle when talking about ourselves, it’s hard! But basically I’ve been making work since 2002 when I moved to Chicago. Back then, I would have never believed I’d be making artwork with a team, full time.

It’s really a dream. 

Admittedly, I digest almost all books through my ears. The last book that I literally could not turn off was Linchpin by Seth Godin.

What are your plans for the future? More YAB? More positive messages for your fellow Chicagoans?

smile inducing, feel-good, road side positive message generator

But I prefer to just say “How did you feel when you saw it? That’s what it’s about.”

I love the positive message of your art, where did your outlook come from?

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On a regular basis we’ll ask a new sticker artist a series of 10 questions. To keep things simple and to engage in a deeply philosophical, long term case study of the scientifically complicated “Sticker Artist’s mind,” we’ve decided to leave the questions the same every week.

The ‘You Are Beautiful’ Project: Artist Matthew Hoffman Spreads The Love (VIDEO)

Since that first brown sticker hit Chicago’s streets 10 years ago, Hoffman’s message is still going strong. More than 500,000 stickers have been printed — and his own son is taking handfuls to school with him. “I think that this is a message that everyone needs to hear,” says Hoffman. “Maybe not every day, but occasionally — and just at the right times.”

Hoffman’s message even reached the frozen tundra. “A couple took a tour of Antarctica, and they built a snowman. In one shot, it was holding the sticker,” he says. “They also took a stuffed penguin, and they put that penguin in a field of actual penguins, and it was holding the sticker.”

Ten years ago, a simple Sticker campaign called “You Are Beautiful” quietly began with 100 stickers. Since then, over a half million stickers have traveled around our globe…. 

I really give all the credit to the community. I think the strength of the message is how open & inclusive it is. It’s for everyone and anyone (literally). There’s no demographic – everyone deserves to hear it. 

You have been participating in craft fairs recently, how effective are the fairs in growing your brand awareness?

I always biff that answer. Recently when I was forced to do an introduction at a meeting I said “I make stickers, I don’t know.” and just trailed off from that. 

It’s really cool to see how people add their voice to the message, and see what their interpretation is. Things always happen with collaboration that you could have never done on your own.

And now after all these years, Matthew Hoffman, the humble creator of this wonderful sticker/art campaign is embarking on a new adventure… A book documenting the project’s journey over the past 10 years. And he needs our help! 

a reminder to the birds… (we took that photo about 8 years ago!)

Categories Art & Design Artist Stickers Clear Vinyl Stickers Custom Stickers Customers Stickers Die Cut Stickers Free Stickers Interviews Kiss Cut Stickers Laptop Stickers Political Stickers Random Awesomeness Random Stickers Social Sticker Campaigns Sticker Deals Sticker Friends & Fans Sticker Packs Sticker Tutorials Street Art Stickers

Sagmeister & Walsh (I like to watch them work)

Here are some great photographs of various You Are Beautiful Public Mural Campaigns

What do relationships with galleries mean to You Are Beautiful?

SwissMiss is always a refreshing break.

In fact, a donation of $10 towards the kickstarter campaign will get you a credit in the book AND 125 You Are Beautiful Stickers

You bet. We’re always working on making more public art. That’s my favorite thing. To put up a big piece, that says something powerful, and anyone can walk by it. Who knows what’ll happen next – but hopefully it makes their day a little better.

donate to the you are beautiful kickstarter campaign and get some stickers!

My goal is to hand one of these stickers to each and every person. Likely, my arm would get tired first…So I’d like to get them into as many hands as possible, who will share them with the next person, and on and on.

It’s You Are beautiful 3.0 tomorrow evening (02/05/2016). It’s been a huge collaboration since we opened and our arms and minds are always open to whatever it’s custodian Matthew Hoffman is up for.

Anyways, now it’s time to sit down for 10 Questions with Matthew Hoffman, The Creator of “You Are Beautiful.”

You can find some incredible stuff on Behance.

Hoffman’s message also struck a deeper chord. “Someone sent a photo of a sticker that they put on the edge of a bridge where a friend had committed suicide a year ago, to sort of be there for the next person that’s thinking about that,” he says. “I don’t know if I had really taken into account the magnitude that the simple message could have. At that moment, it really blew me away.”

YAB has gone from strength to strength over the last few years, what have you been doing to grow this idea?

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