Matthew Hoffman, better known as the artist behind the “you are beautiful” signs all over Chicago and the world, is a local to the Chicagoland area and is represented by his wares in an Evanston artisan shop.
To date, over 2.5 million “you are beautiful” stickers have been printed and sold. Installations on Lake Shore Drive, in Andersonville, and many other locations are recognizable for their simple message of self-worth.
“you are beautiful” on Lake Shore Drive by the Oakwood ramp.
Hoffman’s work is sold through the Evanston shop Stumble & Relish, which supports over 40 artists’ lines. Stumble & Relish purchases from local and out-of-state artisans and resells their work in-store, with all of the credit given to the artist.
Hoffman started out in Lincolnwood, and ended up becoming a hit, both in Evanston and worldwide. Hoffman spoke of his journey in very humble tones.
How was “you are beautiful” conceived?
I moved to Chicago in 2002, and when you move to a big city it’s easy to feel off, alone, and confused. And you’re bombarded with ads that say “you aren’t that great until you buy our product”. I wanted to make something that reminds you that you are great without buying anything.
What new projects are you working on?
We’re installing a piece (a public art commission in Edgewater) behind the circulation desk at the Edgewater library. 4 pieces will be installed in the next 2 to 3 months in Roscoe Village, Chinatown, and Englewood.
When you think of Evanston’s art scene, what do you think of, or whom?
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Annie Coakley of Dowtown Evanston, as we created a large outdoor poster. Jaime of Stumble & Relish has been absolutely wonderful to partner with.
How did you become acquainted with Jaime at Evanston’s Stumble & Relish?
We actually worked at the same publishing company, so when she opened up her shop she contacted me, and- that was at the same moment that I wasn’t carrying any “you are beautiful” merchandise in any shop. So Stumble & Relish was the first store to carry our merchandise.
Hoffman’s installation near Columbia College.
What would you say to aspiring artists working in the Chicago area who don’t know how to get started?
The cool thing about Chicago is it’s the perfect city- big enough for all opportunities to be around you, affordable enough to make things happen – small studios, shows, etc. Which is exciting. If you just moved, take in as much as you can, and start to meet people in the community. Chicago is a very community-oriented… community! Everyone is supportive, collaborative, people are out for the greater good, and that’s really neat, too.
What would you say has been your proudest moment as an artist thus far?
Honestly, for me – it’s how far & wide this positive message has spread. Instead of someone writing “down with the man” or something that dumps on the next person, they write or stick up something up-lifting. There’s empathy there, because they know someone else (another human being) will read those words.
There’s enough negativity going on, we don’t need to add to it.
We all go through major things, and how we deal with them says so much about our character. It’s not who you are when everything is going great that matters – it’s who you are when things aren’t going your way.
View Matthew Hoffman’s work at heyitsmatthew.com
Stumble & Relish is located at 1310 A Chicago Avenue, in Evanston. Call 773.330.3488 or email email@example.com for more information.