Wrenching confessions, guilty pleasures and clever observations of the world are subjects of some of the hundreds of anonymous postcards Frank Warren receives each day.
Warren, who considers himself an “accidental artist,” began receiving secrets in the mail as part of a one-time community art project in 2004. He distributed 3,000 self-addressed postcards in the Washington, D.C. area with a message inviting strangers to share a secret with him. The requirements were: It had to be true, and it had to be previously undisclosed.
Five years later, Warren—often referred to as the most trusted stranger in America—receives about 1,000 postcards each week, delivered to his home in Germantown, Maryland. Many postcards feature elaborate artwork and delicate handwriting confessing a never-before told secret.
“I had no idea how it would resonate with so many people,” Warren said in a recent phone interview. “It’s been shocking, but also very gratifying.”
Warren shares the postcards he receives online, in books, and through art exhibits, and all have received exceptional response. His fifth book, “PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God,” was released Oct. 6, and more than a million books in the PostSecret collection have been sold. Each Sunday selected postcards are shared online at www.postsecret.com, a Web site that receives more than five million visitors each month. In addition, collections of postcards travel the country as art exhibits, and 400 of these postcards are currently on display at the Yellowstone Art Museum.
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