Friday, February 10, 2012

inspired by: the art of missed connections

Have you ever read the Missed Connections section of your local Craigslist? I'm a huge Craigslister; around half of my worldly possessions, from every piece of furniture I owned in college to our current barn door coffee table and papasan-chair-turned-clothes-rack, came into my life via Craigslist Seattle, Western Mass or Boston. I love that aside from being an online garage sale of gross couches and certified-pre-owned cats it's also got a human side with interesting, sometimes bizarre but often sweet stories.

Described as "the internet's version of lost and found," Missed Connections is a last-ditch effort for people to connect with someone they were either by chance or by choice unable to interact with in the moment. Buried between the always humorous Sorry-I'm-Not-Sorry psuedo-appologiesthe Passive-Aggressive-Behavioral-Complaints, and the More-Than-Slightly-Creepy-Library-Pun-Users, there are some heartfelt pleas from Craigspeople just looking for that second chance at friendship, love, owls, whatever.

The serendipitous humor and hope in these posts inspired a collection of paintings by illustrator Sophie Blackall called (obviously) Missed Connections. Blackall does a beautiful job pairing her whimsical watercolors with equally quirky and unique ads she has found. Some are cute, some are funny, some are bittersweet. Here are some of my favorites :)

The last two are my favorite... I love that whoever the original posters were, they might not have wanted anything but to tell another person that they were awesome. There are so many people I'm now tempted to anonymously thank for existing in South Boston... the construction worker with a cowboy-hat shaped hardhat who sings country songs with an Irish accent outside the subway is first on my list.

Most of these are from Blackall's local Brooklyn MC, but she recently did an illustration for's Love Letters column based on a real-life story of cat-shirt love found and lost on a Brookline dance floor. If you've ever been to the shady hipster outskirts of Boston you can totally imagine this scene playing out:

The ad: "you hooked me in with your sweet robot moves and cat shirt. none of that grinding stuff, just natural robotic talent. you said ‘‘hey, you’re cute.’’ and i said, ‘‘you, too’’ and then i elbowed you in the ribs because i’m not very smooth when it comes to romance... kept looking at your cat shirt thinking, ‘‘yesssss, i can see us marrying and having lots of cats.’’ went to dance on stage with friends and then lost you?!?myfriend said you got shy, which makes you and your cat shirt even more cute!!! alas, i lost both you and my heart on the dance floor. find me cat shirt guy, find me. p.s. i also put up ‘‘LOST: cat shirt guy’’ signs for you."

While there is a lot of humor in these paintings there's also a poignant undertone of loss and possibility to them that was best noted by a commenter on Blackall's Etsy's video:

"I've been a huge fan of Sophie's Missed Connections since I stumbled onto them by chance. The whole idea of the posts on Craigslist is so bittersweet. So many missed chances, so many 'what ifs,' a world of infinite possibilites with people focusing on the opportunities they lost and the people they just managed not to connect with. I hope it teaches us all to seize the moment, smile at strangers and really interact with the people around us."
Sophie Blackall's Missed Connections is now available in book form as well as archival prints (in case you want to commemorate Mr. Throat Tattoo in your living room for all time), and if you live in New York her work can be seen on the newer subway trains as part of the MTA for Arts program. And, if you're more the literary type and you ever have a few minutes to kill (or just don't like doing your job at work, no judgement here!) the CL Best-Of has some gems.


  1. oh goodness... I'm such a sap... snif... this made me cry.

  2. these are awesome...thanks for sharing!!

  3. Great post, superb writing. I also have a gross couch from Craigs List. Who doesn't?