You Are Beautiful launches hotline art experiment


Santiago Covarrubias

Matthew Hoffman, creator of the You Are Beautiful art campaign, came to  Columbia on Nov. 5 at the 623 S Wabash building to speak with students. He encourages people get involved by leaving a message on the hotline.


If one has a positive message they would like to share with the world, they can do so throughout December in a new art experiment hotline created by the You Are Beautiful art campaign in collaboration with the Chicago Design Museum.

The hotline encourages people to share their experiences, stories and words of wisdom through a toll free number that will collect the recorded stories, which will later be compiled through an archive curated by The Chicago Design Museum.

The project is part of a larger art series called the Artist Sticker Series that comes out every month by Matthew Hoffman, founder of the You Are Beautiful art sticker campaign, which has grown in Chicago and printed more than 2.5 million stickers since its inception in 2002, Hoffman said.

The monthly series was started a couple of years ago when Hoffman decided to create 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.

“The idea is, it keeps you on your toes to do something nice once a day,” Hoffman said.

To keep things interesting, Hoffman asked Chicago residents to add a sticker about their craft or passion to the sticker series so subscribers could get a sense of the people that make up their Chicago community, Hoffman said. This addition to the series brought the idea of the hotline into motion.

“[It is an] experimental idea with the hotline where you can share thoughts with one another,” Hoffman said.

The hotline is December’s Artist Sticker Series, and Hoffman hopes to get as many stories as possible during the month. He said people are encouraged to share thoughts, stories and experiences, as long as they mention the phrase, “You are beautiful” in their recording.

In January, the recordings will be published on a free hotline and archived in the Chicago Design Museum, which will curate an exhibit about the stories.

Tanner Woodford, executive director of the Chicago Design Museum, said he is a big fan of Hoffman’s work as a platform of meaningful communication and spreading positivity, and is happy to be collaborating with him for the hotline project.

“The human voice has much more emotion and humanity in it than any printed collateral can have,” Woodford said.

Aside from conceptualizing the idea, Woodford said the ChiDM is helping to curate the voices on the other end of the phone.

“For us it is a stretch from traditional design of what we have focused on in the past, but it certainly promotes positivity and communication, which is a core part of the design process,” he said.

Woodford said this project is bringing Hoffman’s series to a new medium.

“For us it is a fun project and brings us to a new audience and allows us to explore new territory, “ Woodford said.

Chicago graphic designer Nick Adam’s interest in the You Are Beautiful campaign influenced him to participate in Hoffman’s new hotline project.

“The idea of being able to repackage the You Are Beautiful message in a new way that can be surprising or insightful seems extremely important to me,” said Adam, who was worked with Hoffman on his stickers in the past.

Adam said the hotline spreads communication, understanding and active participation among people.

Adam called the hotline and shared his own struggles about life’s complexities that he thinks can help people better understand life. He also said he wanted to leave a message that would spark a new interest in people calling the hotline.

“I talked about the complexities of people and getting to understand that in moments of anger, confusion or misunderstanding, oftentimes it’s not because people dislike each other but it’s because the person has a lot going on that you don’t understand,” Adam said. “To me, that’s what that type of art is about.”

Adam said his words will hopefully give people a broader and more positive perspective on their own lives and realize how complex a person’s life can be.

“The [You Are Beautiful] message itself is about creating a common union across all people,” Adam said.

Call 1-888-YOU-ARE-2 to leave a message and participate in the hotline experiment!