Matthew Hoffman Uses Art to Change Chicago

by Ariel Parrella-Aureli

by Ariel Parrella-Aureli

Matthew Hoffman Uses Art to Change Chicago by  guest blogger Ariel Parrella-Aureli

Anybody walking the streets of Chicago knows they are beautiful—or at least has seen the large signs posted on fences, billboards and buildings. The bold, white ‘You Are Beautiful’ words can be seen plastered around the Andersonville, Englewood, Rogers Park, West Loop and Downtown neighborhoods, among many more, and are the created by the mastermind and custodian of the project Matthew Hoffman, a Chicago artist and designer.

 

What started out as a small idea blossomed into a global phenomenon, with Hoffman’s work being internationally recognized. Back in 2002, Hoffman started anonymously distributing small, unique ‘You Are Beautiful’ silver stickers all over Chicago to make life a little better and give people hope in times of disparity and violence that can surround Chicago and the world overall. His goal was not to be known, but to share a powerful message through easily visible art that could touch all kinds of people, regardless of ideals and backgrounds. Sending out this small but meaningful message got the attention of the community, and soon enough Hoffman was spreading his words onto bigger art installations throughout the city–in the form of murals, sculptures and sticker books.

 

Now—14 years later—with over 2 million stickers and art installations shared globally, Hoffman is seeing the large affect of a small idea, and is always working on new projects. Hoffman has since spread his entrepreneurial skills to colleges and universities, receiving grant money to create public artwork and partnering with local arts school Columbia College Chicago. In 2014 he helped the school with an interactive project that was part of the Wabash Arts Corridor, which showcases local mural and interactive artwork through the Loop neighborhood. In 2015 he was back at Columbia, this time talking to the community about not being afraid to fail and make something out of nothing, like he did. The talk was part of the college’s first Tedx event, which is the college edition of TEDTalks.

 by Bryan Allen Lamb

by Bryan Allen Lamb

 

He wants to make sure people know it is okay to fail in order to do better and reach your full potential. In the beginning of his artistic journey, the stickers he printed did not adhere properly and were printed in the wrong color. Small failures like this made him keep going in his art to make it better and more powerful to the public.

 

Especially for aspiring artists, muralists and designers, Hoffman’s words and career can be inspiring. He stresses the importance of looking at each failure as actually an opportunity—one that you can learn from and incorporate into the next step of your career. Whether an artist or a writer, those words can be uplifting to career-seekers in something they love—another strong point of Hoffman’s that paints his stubbornly confident character that has gotten him far.

 

A couple of years ago, Hoffman created a subscription called You Are Beautiful Everyday for his viewers who wanted more stickers. Hoffman said the series gives people 31 stickers a month that surround a monthly theme, and include appearances from local Chicago artists or notable figures that get their own spotlight for a month. The series makes the stickers more interactive for the viewers, which makes the project more powerful and personal for the community. People can get to know their neighbors and other stories within Chicago—a special way of uniting the people through something as simple as small stickers and words. Hoffman wants to engage people and give them something different and new that keeps them on their toes. The daily stickers are a way of doing this, and help people remember the simple goal of his project.

 

Another way of doing this is his involvement with the Design Museum of Chicago. When the executive director of the museum, Tanner Woodford, approached him for a different kind of project at the museum, Hoffman was all in. Enter the ‘You Are Beautiful’ hotline. The two paired up to create an experimental hotline where users could phone in and record uplifting messages or words of wisdom that contained the phrase “you are beautiful.” The goal was to repackage the You Are Beautiful idea in a new way for people to consume it in a different manner, and hear people’s stories about how the mantra had affected peoples’ lives. The January exhibit was displayed at the museum as recorded messaged for the public to hear.

 

These are just some of the side projects Matthew Hoffman dives into—not to mention his collaboration with local art studios, libraries and schools. Hoffman is always looking for artistic connection with other artists in Chicago. What makes Hoffman stand out—besides his social message and his trademark stickers—is his approachable, humble attitude that so many people relate with easily. Because he is loudly speaking what we all are feeling.

 

“Personally, I want to experience moments. To really feel all the highs and lows. In my work, I want to create moments for others. I do my thing, and they are able to feel whatever they need to in that moment.” – Matthew Hoffman, as said on his website, http://www.heyitsmatthew.com/

What Would You Do With A Million Dollars?

 

Powerball Lottery Reaches Third Highest Jackpot

I joined a 31 day challenge recently to write 500 words a day. It is all about finding your authentic voice. What is the message and vision you have to share with people? This is my day one.

What would you do if someone handed you a million dollars?

Not too long ago the Powerball lottery prize was 1.6 billion dollars. People who never would consider buying a ticket did. In California we heard of people standing in the pouring rain for hours just to get a chance.  Have you really thought about what you would do with that money? How it would change your life, what could you do to change the world? Now I didn’t stand in the rain but I did buy a ticket.  Now my coach whom I love said why…you have the ability to create money. I said to accelerate my dreams.

Now I have always been a big picture thinker, one of my best skill sets. Over the last three years I have been encouraged to dream big, to stay in the question what would I love to express, to be, to do, or create in four areas of my life. The first is time money freedom, the second is creative expression or work in the world, the third is relationships and the fourth is wellness. It took some real soul searching to come up with a vision that truly was an authentic expression of my values. How many of us have lived our lives based on should, trying to please other people?  How often have we taken the “comfortable or safe path” because we are scared we might fail?

Now I have a big, bold, audacious vision. I want to engage, inspire and connect one million creative activists. What is a creative activist you ask? They are people like you and me who have embraced their personal gifts and power to create a better life for themselves, their families and community. They see a problem and look for a solution. They know the best way to foster change is being an example of what they would like to see. They share their voice, their stories so you know you are not alone.

I know how hard it is to share your story. Now those who know me now would never believe this but I was shy, retiring, I never had an opinion, I sat on the fence and waited to see how the wind blew. I usually agreed with the last person who spoke. If you know a bit about my background it might make sense.

As a child I was sexually abused by my grandfather from age 7-13. Now in those days no one talked about it, not on the news, no after school specials and if you grew up in my house you know that like Vegas whatever happens here stays here.  I was afraid no one would believe me, a pillar of the community could do that…so I kept quiet. I never told anyone until I was in my early twenties and I went to therapy for the first time.

Over the years I realized traditional talk therapy was not enough for me. I was surviving but not thriving. I would lay in bed after my kids would go to school and contemplate walking in front of a train. At night I would drown my sorrow, my grief and fear with pints of ice cream, cookies and cake.  I reached a critical point, I could not go on like that…I was going to live or die. I chose life.

I became a workshop junkie. I traveled the world in search of answers. They came much closer to home, actually they were inside me all the time.  My imagination, my intuition, my inspiration, my creative genius was there all the time. Over the years I just lost sight of it. Actually I put it away because one teacher said you are not a very good writer, a choir director  said mouth the words, my parents said you will never make a living being an artist. Where have you experienced this in your life? Who tried to set you straight? What did it cost you?

So I took out my crayons and began to scribble and doodle. I read a thousand self-help books and answered the questions in them. I created a gratitude and did well journal. I painted, took photographs of flowers, did body work, listened to music and I danced. Little by little I saw enormous changes. I felt better, I looked better, I had more energy, more confidence, I had a positive attitude, and my relationships got better. People asked what happened you seem different. I was different. As I let go of the past, when I embraced my gifts and talents when I asked how I can use this experience to make a difference in the world, my life opened up. I experienced more joy and a sense of well being and love.

You may be asking how this relates to being a lotto winner. A 2015 Camelot study group found that 44% of people who ever won large lottery prizes were broke within 5 years. Other studies suggest that lottery winners frequently suffer from a high incidence of depression, divorce, suicide and addictions. They don’t feel they deserve it. They often lack a clear vision for how they will use the money, how they will relate to their friends and family when they ask for money. They don’t have a good support team in place to help handle their finances. They never really considered how they can use their increased wealth to make a difference in the world.

Well I still play lotto. I believe in miracle, magic and a bold vision for success. I have a burning desire and a clear action plan to engage 1 million creative activists. I am international speaker sharing creativity as a path to personal and planetary healing. We have an online program that offers tips, tools and techniques to become a fearless thought leaders and a creative problem solver. We offer a community resource guide of “best practices, creative programs and solutions.”  Finally, hosting Dream a Better World television. Everyone has a story. I love creating a safe space for them to share their voice and vision.

I would love your comments. Thanks

Gift of Imagination

imagination

We have this gift called imagination. As children we played make believe for hours, we were race car drivers, movie stars winning an Oscar or we were scientists living on Mars. We lived in the realm of imagination where anything was possible, our imagination was a bright and wondrous place to be. Then around five or six well meaning teachers said ” stop day dreaming, stick to the facts,” and we shut down our joyful imagination.

As adults we tend to use our imagination to envision the worst instead of the best. How many times have you noticed when your children were late getting home  your mind went to  there was an accident, they are in a ditch. When I was  getting divorced I kept imagining I was going to be a bag lady living in the street.( it never happened) Our minds are very powerful image makers and search engines. So the question becomes what is the vision you want to carry in your mind, freedom or oppression, peace or turmoil, lack or abundance, health or disease, love or hate? Instead of imagining what we don’t want it is time to start using our imagination effectively create what we do want.

I have been studying Napoleon Hill for several years and he says.” Imagination is the most marvelous, miraculous, inconceivable, powerful force the world has ever known.”  I believe that. So as creative, imaginative human beings what would you like to create for yourself, your family, your community and for the world? The question isn’t what do you think you can create,  rather what does a life that you would love to create, look like? What do you want to create with the gift of  your imagination?

What do you want. Buy yourself a journal. Take the time for yourself. You are worth it. Keep asking yourself what do I want. But instead of saying I don’t want to be sick, Say I want to be healthy. Instead of I don’t want to be stressed. I want to be calm and peaceful. I don’t want to be in debt rather I want more than enough money  to pay my bills and take care of my needs. Make it in the positive, your thoughts are magnets. Here is my partial list.

1. I want to paint and collage more
2.I want to have more fun and adventure in my life
3.I want to make welcome my beloved
4.I want to serve more people and host a Creative Activist retreat in April
5.I want to buy sexy new clothes in a size 12
6.I want more flexibility and stamina to walk 10,000 steps daily
7.I want the financial freedom  to spend three months in California
8.I want  a deeper  connection to Spirit
9.I want to travel and explore the world with family and friends

Now it is your turn to  write down at least 50 things that you want to have, do or be in 2016. If you want more information on using the gift of your imagination get our free visioning and goal setting report. http://thewinningadventure.com/

Put Your Dreamer in Charge and Feel Really Good

beauty of your dreams

 

Put Your Dreamer In Charge and Feel Really Good

 

When you were a kid, you didn’t have any “real-world” duties, so it allowed you to spend your time inventing games, talking to imaginary friends, making tents out of blankets, being a superhero, a ballerina or an astronaut.  Basically doing whatever you wanted to do for most of the day. You lived in the realm of your imagination…you dreamed…A LOT.

Somewhere along the way your teachers said stop day dreaming, get serious, stop playing…and you did.  Now,  you have obligations and responsibilities that help make sure that everything runs smoothly. You map out logistics and build routines that create a sense of comfort, security and stability for you and your family. You have serious goals but are you really happy?

While those elements are essential to being a grown-up, we still need to dream and play and creatively express ourselves in order to maintain our sanity and build a life worth living. Scientific studies have proven that play does a body good. When we play, we send a beautiful chemical called endorphins cascading through our bodies, which makes us feel really good. Getting into a state of dreaming  and wonder opens us up to new possibilities. Creative expression allows us to generate new ideas and inspire new conversations and instills in us a general sense of well being.

Here are a few simple steps to help you put your dreamer back in the driver’s seat.

  1. Play Like A Child. Maybe doing cartwheels is no longer in your wheelhouse, but you can still run across an open field with your arms out like an airplane. You can sit on  swing and reach for the stars. You can lay on the grass and imagine the passing clouds as mermaids or castles in the sky.
  1. Love Your Friends. Before we learned to guard ourselves against rejection and heartache, we laughed openly with our friends, told them how awesome they were, and gave them lots of hugs. Guess what…you can still do all that. We need physical contact to feel connected to something other than ourselves and to feel a little less alone, especially in times of need. Hugs reduce the levels of cortisol in the body and lowers our stress level and therefore improves our mood. AND IT IS FREE.
  2. Creatively express yourself. We were all born creative  that is until someone told us “cows weren’t purple. If you want to be taken seriously you need that power suit.”  Creativity is your authentic soul yearning to be free. Take some time and scribble and doodle with crayons and see what emerges. Indulge your senses with a new cologne, find an accessory that says clearly who you are. You can put on your favorite dance music and rock out. Try out a new recipe for a spinach souffle or a decadent chocolate cake. Creative expression is your birthright.creativity1
  3. Be Curious. All too often we let our brain go on autopilot through rigid thinking.Don’t rush through your day, rather indulge in wonder. Ask open ended questions. What would I love? What feels better? What can I do with what I have to to experience more joy and happiness?
  4. Dream BIGGER.  Sure, it makes sense to put “realistic” goals on your list, but what about your “impossible” dreams? Let your imagination run wild and your curiosity guide you…What if you could end world hunger? What if you could have numerous homes all over the world? What is you could make the world safer for women and girls? What if you could  make a fabulous living only working four hours a day? Or lead the cause that ended global warming?   Let your mind become limitless again…and just see what happens.

One of the biggest keys to happiness is to do the things that you enjoy. Chances are, they are the simple things you’ve done ever since you were a kid.

 

How will you put YOUR dreamer in charge TODAY?

Join the creative activist community and collaborate with other big picture thinkers. Share your big dreams on https://www.facebook.com/groups/CreativeActivists/

Discover The Creative Edge: Curiosity

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“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.” -Leo Burnett

Creativity is a part of your very soul and a key element in every area of your life. Creativity is the ability to see the possibilities and potential in your life. Creativity is being able to see solutions while others see problems. Despite what you may think—“I don’t have a creative bone in my body”—creativity is not the exclusive domain of artists, musicians, and professional designers.

You are creative when you:

  • Make a gourmet meal out of five ingredients from your panty.
  • Chaperone twenty 10 year olds to a museum.
  • Stay on budget and on time for that new project at work.
  • Figure out how to drop one child at dance rehearsal and the other at volleyball.
  • See a potential problem with your client’s strategy, and diplomatically propose an alternate solution.
  • Organize a food pantry in your community.
  • When you ask what if.

Everyone has the ability to think creatively, problem solve, and generate more ideas. It requires practice, the same way you need to train your body for the marathon. All too often, we let our brain go on auto pilot and fail to nourish our creativity. One of the keys to being more creative is to be curious.

Walt Disney said “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” As Walt told it, his inspiration for Disneyland came from having a “Daddy’s Day” with his girls. They would go to carnivals and the girls would play the games or ride the carousel while Walt would sit and watch. As he looked about at other parents, watching their kids, he thought what if there was a place where parents and children could play together as a family.

Brian Grazer, producer of Apollo 13 (1995) and A Beautiful Mind (2001), has let his inquisitiveness run wild by pursuing what he refers to as a “curiosity conversation” with hundreds of movers and shakers. He says the secret is to allow the conversation to flow freely. In his new book, A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life, Grazer chronicles a lifetime of talking to strangers in an attempt to expand his own capabilities.

We were born curious. We used to ask endless questions, much to our parents’ dismay. We used to taste everything, sand, bugs and snowflakes. We made up stories and wondered why. We freely expressed ourselves in fun and exceptional ways. As children, we were told: the cow is not purple, stop fidgeting in your seat, stop daydreaming, and there is only one right answer.  It is time once again to discover the creative edge and play in the realm of your imagination and intuition, ask endless questions, ponder what if.

What are you curious about?  Pick a subject and research on line or go the library. Take a class. Try a new recipe. Ask someone about their life experience. What if you could change the world, what would it look like? Be curious. Interested in finding out moreGet an advance copy of The Creative Activist: Make the World Better, One Person , One Action at a Time. bit.ly/CreativeActivistsPubslush