“Hidden” with Matt Hoffman

By Misti Patrella

I was walking down the street, about a year ago on a wintery Chicago day. A windy mixture of freezing rain and snow was making me shiver to my bones. I was cold and wet and feeling lonely and pretty bad about my day. All of a sudden I looked down at a lamp post dripping in ice and saw this sticker.

It’s simplicity struck me and the message sunk in as if spoken only to me. I stopped in my tracks and smiled, cracking that angry crust of energy and shifting my day. Wow. That is a powerful set of three little words. I started taking pictures of them when I saw them. (I would paste more of them here, but there are a bunch and you can find millions of examples on the interwebs.)

After seeing so many of these stickers placed around town, the inevitable question crept in behind my camera lens. Who had created this brilliant message? Why?

To my surprise and delight, I would eventually find out.

Creative Mornings is a series of monthly breakfast workshops for the creative community. The groups mostly exist in major cities around the world, but check out your town, you never know. Chi-city has an amazing series of speakers, and I was lucky enough to meet this month’s talent, Matt Hoffman under the theme Hidden.

The the theme of Hidden befits Matt entirely. He has worked hard to stay hidden as the creator of You Are Beautiful. And after 10 years it has become quite a global movement. Touching all seven continents.

From war-torn countries to rural American towns & international vacation hubs, this clearly needed message has driven the public to recreate it in nature, public art installations and high-profile exhibitions and both “approved”, and hmm-mmm, not so “approved” street art. Although Matt is quick to say that he does not believe in defiling public property. He has only ever placed his You Are Beautiful message on things that were all ready falling apart and/or about to undergo repair.

Why these three words? Well, he wanted to see how powerful a message he could create that would spread. And spread it did. He ended up irritating the mail man in his apartment building for a hot-minute with the onslaught of mail he hadn’t expected. People wanted those stickers! That is truly Awesome.

And after 10 years of staying hidden, he is now starting to come out as the creator of this work. Although not in big ways. The publisher of the book that is coming out about this project practically had to twist Hoffman’s arm about putting his last name in a very small font on the spine only.

Hoffman did admit that there are positive’s and negative’s about the idea of staying hidden.

It has allowed the public to truly embrace You Are Beautiful and take it on as their own. A piece of the work that he is very proud of. But at the same time, he admitted that it hasn’t furthered his own personal development to stay hidden. Sometimes using the idea to feel safe.

How Do You Stay Hidden?
There are lots of ways we stay hidden in our businesses – behind our nice, safe computers. But, does this serve your business best?
Are you working on something you are afraid to release to the public?
Are you nervous to tell your friends and family that you’re starting/started your own business?
Do you have an artistic talent you keep to yourself?
Do you let other people take credit for your work?
Is staying hidden serving you?

I’ve stayed hidden in my own ways too. I didn’t tell people I wanted to be an actor for YEARS. I remember when I ‘came out’ to my sister about it. I was so nervous! It was way easier to stay hidden. Fear will do that to you. But let’s face it, we can’t make our dreams come true under a veil of secrecy. We need our friends and family for support.

Please take a moment to share in the comments below. Tell us about it! Did you have an experience of being Hidden in your business?

As always, take care, and go after your Awesome. You owe it to the world!

3 thoughts on ““Hidden” with Matt Hoffman

  1. Posted on Thank you for the reminder that there are ploepe in the world with peace in their hearts & hope in their mind. This message has brought me a moment of solace.

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