From Sticker Project to Global Phenomenon: Matthew Hoffman's "You Are Beautiful"

It all started with 100 stickers.

In 2002, artist and designer Matthew Hoffman created a batch of stickers with a simple message — “You Are Beautiful” — and started leaving them around Chicago as tiny messages of positivity. Soon, the project grew far beyond Hoffman’s imagination into block-long murals, public installations, and exhibitions at cultural institutions, involving thousands of artists around the world.

Hoffman launched a Kickstarter project in 2013 for the You Are Beautiful Book, tracing the project’s leap from personal sticker project to global phenomenon. In addition to raising enough to fund the book, Hoffman was able to connect with over 700 like-minded supporters: “It was so rewarding to know that so many people believed in me enough to support the project, and that they were as excited as I was to see it come to life,” he says.

In 2015, Hoffman launched Andersonville...You Are Beautiful, a Kickstarter project to bring public art to Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. Though organizing and installing public artworks comes with its own set of challenges, Hoffman’s artistic motto is to “grind through it... There’s tons of menial tasks, creative stumbling blocks, and negative feedback. You have to be stubborn, believe in it, and push through.”

He returned for Kickstarter Gold with You Are Beautiful, Where You Are, a project to mass-produce a series of low-cost “You Are Beautiful” installations across the U.S. — a project he hopes will improve the daily lives of the communities that have helped his project become what it is today. He says the sticker has become a community-driven project: “They’ve taken a small silver sticker, and turned it into a social movement.”