Exclusive Interview: Frank Warren, the Man Behind PostSecret

A few months back, I was grabbed off the streets of Williamsburg and asked if I would share a secret on film — to be shared publicly online. Usually happy to oblige for a good cause, I asked what it was for. “It’s for PostSecret, the new book is coming out soon.”

Since its inception in 2005, PostSecret has been a safe haven to many needing a sanctuary to release their painful burdens, desires, and inhibitions. Or more simply for some, just to share their hopes and dreams. The instructions are simple: create a four by six postcard, decorate it along with an honest but never-before-confessed secret. Then mail it to Frank Warren, a complete stranger who may or may not post it on his blog.

Each Sunday, people around the world find out they are not alone with their long buried but unforgotten secrets. To those who follow it religiously, PostSecret is both inspirational and empowering. Seeing others’ brave confessionals can sometimes give them strength to confront their own fears. You could also look it as cheap therapy at the low, low cost of a postage stamp.

When asked about his new book, Warren confessed it might be the last PostSecret book he’ll put out. The fifth in the series, Confessions of Life, Death, and God (which comes out tomorrow) spans nearly two years of painstaking work to put together. This ongoing community art project has evolved over time he says, and has become much more philosophical. When asked why he wagers, “This project is very user-directed and user-centric. It is a structured but extremely social way of sharing and there is a real beauty in this. Sharing a secret can be physically transformative since it is an act of letting go.”

And how about the future of PostSecret? Where can it go next? Frank is optimistic about the future of the Internet. “Twitter is incredible,” he explains. “I posted new two secrets and overnight, 110,000 people had looked at it.”

Over the years, PostSecret has provided multiple perspectives on diverse subject matters. Secrets may embody what one feels, or reveal what the other side might be thinking. Since there is no restriction on what type of secret you can send in, secrets range from light-hearted funny stories to dark sexual taboos. And because it is anonymous, readers generally keep an open mind since the superficial aspect of race and gender are usually not a factor.

When asked about the secrets he receives daily, Frank muses, “Some truly take your breath away. I sometimes receive really beautiful creations with secrets in so carefully chosen words. Maybe they are trying to accept a part of themselves. Perhaps it is part of a spiritual journey. But the courage it takes is incredible; it encourages empathy and allows unsung voices to be heard. It just proves again and again, that courage is more important than artistic training.”