Importance of Simplicity: A Message from Chicago’s “You Are Beautiful” Art Campaign

If you’ve been anywhere outdoors in the Chicago area in the past five years, you have probably seen various signs and art pieces written with the phrase “You Are Beautiful” on it around the city which can be spotted in the neighborhoods of Rogers Park, Uptown, Andersonville, West Loop, Chinatown, and Ukrainian Village.

 

This art campaign started in 2002 by Matthew Hoffman as a sticker project, and eventually evolved into huge art installations, which have since expanded to locations in Indiana, Michigan, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, and Italy, both permanently and temporarily.

 

The success of this art campaign led to a 2015 collaboration with Chicago-based shoe company Bucketfeet, art commissions from realty group @Properties and The Chicago Community Trust, and a digital store where you can purchase everything from You Are Beautiful sweatshirts to You Are Beautiful mirrors.

 

Additionally, Hoffman has a few installations with different phrases on it. The @properties office in Bucktown is covered in the word love, you can view the “do more with less” installation in Buena Park, there is a sign that says, “turn dreams into reality” in Lakeview, and lastly there are signs that say, “anything is possible” in Roscoe Village and Lincolnwood.

 

The overwhelming success of the campaign is useful for understanding what people respond to. People really enjoy positive, clear, and easy to understand messages. Often times in the marketing world, we get stuck in trying to make things that are wild, out of the box, and require complex thought to understand. Here we see that the success of a campaign isn’t determined by its complexity, its determined by the insight that creators have into the human condition that makes their work relevant to consumer’s wants and desires.