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Open House: bringing #notestostrangers to Leeds

by Amy Dunwoody

It’s been a whole month since artist Andy Leek joined us at Northern Monk for Open House – which also means it’s just 6 weeks until Christmas! – time flies when you’re having fun, eh?

Andy’s the man behind #notestostrangers. A London-based art project providing those all-important Instagram opportunities for the Capital’s commuters, making them (and us) smile while he’s at it.

  • It turns out he’s really good at that, making people smile. So good that he’s now making a living from it. Andy’s coloured A4 bits of paper are handwritten with feel-good messages taken from songs, books, films or just his own thoughts.

    Lifestyles are adjustable
    Notes to Strangers started after Andy’s own experience with a mental health issue, combined with a rather long commute. He ditched his successful career in advertising and decided to try to help strangers who might also be having a hard time. Leaving tiny notes of positivity for commuters to stumble across in their copy of The Metro. Admitting to us that the process was just as much for him as it was them, the excitement, the rush. Phwoar.

  • See if you can love yourself 10% as much as you love dogs
    Andy told us his story, the journey that had got him to where he is today, describing himself as a terrified little lad who’d drifted through school. Dyslexia had left him feeling like the education system couldn’t cater for him, his degree in Graphic Design taught him how difficult it was going to be to get a job in the creative industry.

    So he learnt to hustle.

    Jokes aside… He discovered advertising, which lit a spark. Things always get better, right? Andy had found something he was good at that also showed him the power of creativity.

    Although, it’s super easy to lose yourself in work, particularly if you’re as good at it as he was advertising. Andy may have had a great career but his mental health was suffering, it was time to “stop giving a fuck” and start doing you. He stopped caring so much, too much. Ditched his career and made Notes to Strangers a full time thing.

    For me, the lesson in ‘not giving a fuck’ was invaluable, the most important bit of the night. Definitely something I needed to hear, so thanks Andy. You’re great.

  • PS. We were also really excited to help Andy bring his #notes to Leeds for the first time! We went straight out to find them the next day and have been spotting them ever since. Head to Instagram for even more.

  • Our next Open House will be on the 7th February 2019, so save the date and keep your eyes on our Instagram more details will follow very, very soon.

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