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

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

Crowdfunding: The Creative Activist

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The first time I heard about crowdfunding and crowdsourcing was at Steve Olshers’ Internet Prophet Speakers conference from Jake Nickell, founder and CEO of Threadless.  I was so intrigued that I contacted both Steve and Jake and interviewed them. Little did I know several years later I would be using crowdfunding to raise resources for The Creative Activist: Make the World Better, One Person, One Action at a Time and my initiative to build a community of creative activists. It’s a beautiful concept: have readers/friends fund your book directly in exchange for access to the process as well as exclusive gifts and goodies available at various pledge levels.

My publisher, Amy Quale of Wise Ink Creative Publishing suggested I speak with Pubslush. Run by mother-daughter team Hellen and Amanda L Barbara, this company is focused on providing crowdfunding services tailored to the needs of authors, agents, self-publishers and small presses, which aren’t necessarily the same as those of technologists, filmmakers and musicians.

 

There are two main differences between Pubslush and other crowdfunding sites, the first of which is that Pubslush offers its project owners “personalized, one-on-one advice, targeted for books,” said Amanda L. Barbara. For a fee you can hire a coordinator who will help you with levels of gifts to marketing ideas.  The second difference is that once a crowdfunding campaign is successful, the ‘fund’ button morphs into a ‘buy’ button so that anyone late to the project can easily find out where the book is for sale, hooking into Amazon, Itasca or Barnes & Noble.

 

I think what clinched it for me was their commitment to global literacy. Their cause is “for every book sold a book will be donated to a child in need.” I believe in giving back and collaborating with community partners.  Ten percent of the proceeds from bit.ly/CreativeActivistsPubslush campaign and all book sales are going to http://www.nwcasa.org/. The Northwest Center Against Sexual Assault. They provide counseling services for survivors and their families and outreach into the community.

 

The Creative Activist: Make the World Better, One Person, One Action at a Time is an inspirational toolbox to help clarify your passion and purpose and to develop effective strategies to be the change maker you wish to be. It contains thirty-six stories form change makers who are dedicated to using their imagination and creative expression to make a positive difference for individuals, communities and the world.

 

I have a big dream to have creative activist’s communities/clubs in the workplace, on college campuses, and around the globe. Too often I watch the news that is so horrible and devastating and I feel helpless like everyone else, I often wonder, Why should I try? What can one person do to make a difference, anyway? I am here to tell you one person does make a difference. You have more influence and impact than your think. You have a sphere of influence—your kids watch you, you have friends and coworkers, etc. We are all more creative than we think. Creativity is not just for artists and designers—creativity is the way you think and the way your unique mind works. It’s different for all of us. Ideas are the most important currency in solving world problems today. Everything you say and do matters. We need new voices and visions to open door and create changes.

 

The Creative Activist Community on Facebook  bit.ly/CreativeActivists and the Creative Activist Retreat: Be the Change You Wish to See in the World being held at Catalyst Ranch in Chicago, September 25th, 2015 are places that encourage inventiveness, originality, and creativity to teach, bridge gaps, foster understanding, build self-esteem, and solve problems.  It is where you can find a tribe of like minded people who can be your partners in believing. The spirit of The Creative Activist is found in kindness, compassion, and every act of paying it forward.

 

Imagine what the world would look like if we all made a commitment to improve the quality of life for all. We each have a dream, an inherent drive to make our mark on the world and leave a lasting legacy.

Supporting bit.ly/CreativeActivistsPubslush   is your opportunity to leave a lasting legacy. Be a role model, mentor or volunteer. Thank you for your generous donations.                                                                                                                                        TCA-3D-mockup

Celebrate World Creativity and Innovation Week

 

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Celebrate World Creativity and Innovation Week 

World Creativity and Innovation Week was the brainchild of Marci Segal. During World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15 – 21 people are acknowledged, informed, inspired and encouraged to use their creativity – to be open to and generate new ideas, to be open to and make new decisions and to be open to and take new actions – that make the world a better place and to make their place in the world better too.

It’s something you create it for your home, your school, your community, your business, with your customers.

Here are twenty things you can do starting today.

  1. Listen to my conversation with founder  and creative activist Marci Segal http://ow.ly/L9BhN
  2. Eat an ice cream sundae for breakfast
  3. Take a different route to work
  4. Make a meal you never did before
  5. Have your family make a centerpiece out of found objects
  6. Have a come as you wish you were party
  7. Talk to a stranger and ask them what they need…and get it for them                                                                             marci_segal_photo_
  8. Sing in the shower
  9. Learn something new
  10. Dream a better world and take one action step to make it a reality
  11. Imagine yourself as a superhero
  12. Ask what if questions
  13. Organize recess at your office
  14. Write a  big thank you to everyone you know and post it on Facebook
  15. Create a vision board on Pinterest
  16. Take a selfie
  17. Scribble and doodle
  18. Take an architectural tour of your hometown
  19. Plant a garden
  20. Visit a new art gallery or museum

The possibilities are endless, nothing is too small. This is your time to create new ideas, make new decision and take new actions.  Join me and other Creative Activists as we come together to support and share our creativity to make the world a better place. » bit.ly/CreativeActivists