In early 2009, having worked happily but relentlessly on children’s books for a number of years, I had an overwhelming desire to do something more grown-up. A personal project for my own amusement. Searching for a theme, I stumbled on Missed Connections, the online listings posted by lovelorn strangers hoping to reconnect. (You can read the full stumbling story here:
In an effort to make myself actually commit to the project, I decided to do a drawing a day, and post them on a blog. This was my goal: “Every day hundreds of strangers reach out to other strangers on the strength of a glance, a smile or a blue hat. Their messages have the lifespan of a butterfly. I’m trying to pin a few of them down.”
The drawing a day thing only lasted about a week, (not enough hours in the day!) then it became a drawing a week.
But as the blog posts grew, so did this remarkable, surprising audience. The response was overwhelming, all the more because it was unexpected. I began to receive emails from all over the world; Italy and Argentina, South Africa and Israel. Magazines asked for interviews. The New York Times called. And regular people wrote begging me to help them find their lost loves. They told me my pictures had made their day, had pulled them out of a funk, had put a spark back in their marriage. Had given them hope. Hope in kindness and intimacy between strangers, hope in finding their own true loves. Hope of connecting. Because for all the hopelessness in writing and posting a Missed Connection, for all the “You probably won’t read this” and “This is a shot in the dark,” there’s a 15-watt bulb of hope dimly glowing in each message.
In 2011 Workman collected the series in a book, Missed Connections, Love, Lost and Found, which was named one of the Best Art and Design Books of 2011 on brainpickings.org (one of my very favorite websites).
You can read more about the Missed Connections project in the Wall Street Journal here (and how it lead to the MTA Arts for Transit poster):
and hear about it on NPR here:
and if you have 41 minutes to kill, here on Debbie Millman’s fantastic show Design Matters: