Forget the CIA, Frank Warren is probably the world's best keeper of secrets.
In 2004, Frank started a project called PostSecret, in which he printed 3,000 blank postcards inviting people to mail him their secrets anonymously. He handed out the postcards to strangers, left them between book pages in bookstores and libraries, and even left some on park benches. He got 100 back and posted the secrets on his blog.
Apparently, that struck a nerve: PostSecret went viral and since he started it, Frank has received nearly half a million postcards in his mailbox and over a quarter billion visitor to www.postsecret.com. The website spawned various exhibitions, events and PostSecret books, as well as various parodies (a true measure of one's popularity in today's world, I'm afraid).
The latest book, PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God was inspired by a collection of more than 300 postcards that were part of the "All Faiths Beautiful" exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum. The book contains never-before-seen secrets that, as Frank so eloquently wrote, "expose the common landscape of our private lives - from our embarrassing desires to our hidden acts of kindness; from the private prayers of atheists to the voiceless doubt of believers."
Frank, a Neatoramanaut himself (that's him wearing one of our T-shirts), has kindly agreed to sit down for a virtual interview with us. You are invited to submit comments and questions for Frank - we'll pick 5 of the best comments/questions to get a free autographed PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God book.
Neatorama: Congratulations on the new book (it's fantastic, by the way, I was engrossed reading it for a couple of hours) - did you ever think that PostSecret would be as popular as it is today when you started it?
Frank Warren: No, I have been shocked. In addition to the five PostSecret books, the website has had over 250,000,000 hits.
I knew that if I could earn people's trust and build a collection of creative and authentic secrets it would be very special for me. It's great to know so many others appreciate these extraordinary confessions too.
Neatorama: Why do you think it has been so successful?
Frank: I think people find some of the funny and sexual postcards amusing but eventually you come across a secret that you might recognize as one of your own. One you might be hiding from yourself. I think it is those moments of epiphany and empathy that have allowed the PostSecret community to grow.
Neatorama: Your latest book focuses on life, death, and God. Can you tell us a little bit about the reasoning behind the topic?
Frank: PostSecret started as a lark, maybe even a prank, but over the years the secrets have become more meaningful to me. This new book, like all the books have never-before-seen secrets that touch on sexual taboos and some outlandish humor, but more than the other books, the new book has postcards that share some our deepest and most private feelings about the greatest mysteries of life. The parts that are always there beneath the surface but we sometimes forget about during our everyday lives.
Neatorama: What are some of your favorite PostSecret secrets?
Neatorama: It's been five years since you started PostSecret - how has it changed your life?
Frank: Knowing all these secret stories that are happening in so many of our lives makes life, people, and riding the subway more interesting.
Neatorama: What's next for you and PostSecret?
Frank: My favorite part of the project now is traveling to college campuses and sharing the stories behind the secrets at live events where audience members can share their own secrets - without anonymity, but sometimes with great emotion.
Frank's message on YouTube
From PostSecret Confessions on Life, Death and God:
Frank has kindly offered 5 free autographed copies of the book for a giveaway. Got any questions for Frank? 5 lucky commenters with the most interesting questions and/or comments will win a copy of the book (I'll post Frank's replies as an update).
Links: Post Secret Book official website (with bonus secrets) | Post Secret website | Post Secret Community | Post Secret Book on Amazon (affiliate link, here's the clean non-affiliate link if you'd like)