Postcard Confessions::The World of PostSecret

January 16, 2009

“There are two kinds of secrets: those we keep from others and the ones we hide from ourselves.” – Frank Warren

The collaborative art project PostSecret has always been of great interest to me.  Founder Frank Warren began this project a few years ago in Washington D.C. by sending out 3000 self addressed postcards through leaving them at bus stops, inside books, and other random places. He invited people to return the 4 x 6 postcard anonymously with a secret that was true and had never been told before. 100 postcards came in to the 13345 Copper Ridge Road Germantown, Maryland 20874 address and what started as an experiment is now PostSecret. 

First the postcards were showcased as an exhibit, then the project continued on-line where new postcards were, and continue to be, uploaded every Sunday.  PostSecret’s success was truly born on Blogger and a great testament of the tremendous power the Internet can have on connection and self-expression.  PostSecret has now developed into a community, books, a college tour, into music videos, and has been exhibited at the American Visionary Art Museum. The project has a very strong following of supporters and individuals who continue to send in their secrets (1000 every week), as well as the people who want to see them.  

The video above, the many other PostSecret montages on YouTube, as well as postcards on www.postsecret.com and PostSecret books, often reveal painful, hurtful, sad experiences, in addition to statements and memories that can be inspiring and uplifting.  Other secrets are playful, silly, and funny.  Some messages are rooted in regret, apology, mistrust, and courage.  Others express emotions that range from despair, shame, and anger to love, joy, and hope. 

I am drawn to the imagery and artful quality that many individuals use to communicate their confession on the 4 x 6 space.  Collage, photographs, drawings, found and special objects…text that is typed, stamped, handwritten…some images are simple, some raw, in black & white, or vibrant, rich colors.  I am constantly in awe of the powerful expression from within that emerges when given the permission and safety to make what is inside, outside.  This power has not gone unnoticed- Warren has been recognized by the National Mental Health Association for helping bring awareness to mental health issues and many proceeds from PostSecret’s efforts benefit The National Hopeline Network and help fund their suicide prevention Hopeline: 1-800-SUICIDE.  

Another intriguing aspect of this project is technology’s creativity to connect us together and empower our communication of hidden thoughts and experiences, but yet there is still an element of isolation, disconnection, and perhaps a lack of refuge or trust in our daily lives and real life relationships.

When interviewed by Guy Kawasaki for his blog, How to Change the World, Warren was asked:  “What have you learned from all this?”  His answer was very simple:  “We all carry a secret that would break your heart if you knew what it was. And if we could remember that there might be more understanding and peace in the world.”

1/7/10 Update: The 2010 PostSecret Tour has started and will be coming to colleges across the US and Canada.  Check out to see if PostSecret will be coming to a campus near you soon:

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