So, what’s this all about?
We collect found stuff: love letters, birthday cards, kids’ homework, to-do lists, ticket stubs, poetry on napkins, doodles– anything that gives a glimpse into someone else’s life. Anything goes.
We certainly didn’t invent the idea of found stuff being cool. Every time we visit our friends in other towns, someone’s always got some kind of unbelievable discovered note or photo on their fridge. We decided to make a bunch of projects so that everyone can check out all the strange, hilarious and heartbreaking things people have picked up and passed our way.
And how’d this all start?
One snowy winter night in Chicago back in 2000, Davy went out to his car and found a note on his windshield — a note meant for someone else, a guy named Mario:
We loved this note — its amazing mixture of anger and hopefulness — and so we shared it with as many folks as we could. Each friend we showed the Mario and Amber note to seemed to have a few finds to show us in return; clearly we weren’t alone in our fascination with FOUND stuff! As a way for everyone to join forces and share their finds with everyone else, we decided to start a magazine called FOUND, a showcase for all the strange, hilarious and heartbreaking things people’ve picked up.
We spent a year spreading word about the project and collecting great finds, then with scissors and tape we slapped together the first issue of FOUND in June of 2001. Each year since, with help from our friends and finders all around the world, we’ve put out a new issue of the magazine. We hope you’ll enjoy checking out the website and the magazine, and that you’ll join in and send in your own finds! We collect it all — love letters, birthday cards, kids’ homework, to-do lists, poetry on napkins, doodles — anything that gives a glimpse into someone else’s life.
How can I get a copy of FOUND?
There’s a few ways — online, by mail, or at a bookstore.
#1. Online. Check the Magazine and Books sections!
#2. By Mail. Download an order form here, fill it out, and pass it our way.
#3. Bookstores. Check our bookstores page for details.
Sure, I’ve seen the FOUND website- so why should I pick up your other stuff?
Great question– we’re glad you asked. Our website’s great for showing the quickies — a Polaroid, note card, post-it note — and our books and magazines have their own feast of finds. Really, we think you’ll be impressed when you pick up one of our other projects- they feel real good and you can hold them and put ‘em under your pillow.
What if I haven’t found anything but I still want to be involved?
We need people in every city and country to help get the word out, keep the indie bookstores stocked, help get people out to our events, etc. Please get a hold of us if you can help! If you live in the Ann Arbor area or Chicago and you want to get involved, drop a note to email@example.com. There’s fun-a-plenty to go ’round.
I found a dirty picture once– what do you do with all the raunchy finds?
We love the pervy finds! We had them hidden away in this big folder and only shared them with our closest friends, but you can only keep the lid on these things for so long… so we decided to collect everything that’s too-hot-for-FOUND and put it into DIRTY FOUND. (Only 3 issues -SOLD OUT- 4EVER.)
You have a street team?! I think I need to be part of this.
Awesome, we’d love to get you involved! It’s simple, really- email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll hit you back with the Secret Operative Instructions. You’ll be on your way in no time. Oh, and hey– let us know where you’re writing from, ok?
I want to advertise in FOUND- I love the thought of my shop/band/project appearing in the magazine- how can I be a sponsor?
That’s great! Your support is HUGE, and we love spreading the word about the neat things you’ve got going on. Just drop an email to email@example.com and we’ll hit you right back with all the details.
320 S. Main St., Suite A
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
3455 Charing Cross Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48108-1911
|Davy Rothbart – Point Guard
Co-creator and Editor of FOUND Magazine, the FOUND books, and relentless road warrior. Davy also tells stories on public radio’s This American Life, and in his book The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|James Molenda – Scoring Guard
Managing Editor of FOUND Magazine and Editor of foundmagazine.com and all social media. Contact at email@example.com.
|Sarah Locke – Small Forward
Senior Editor of FOUND Magazine and director of the Prisoner Pen Pal Program. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Brande Wix – Power Forward
Distribution & Warehouse Manager for FOUND Magazine and Quack Media. Contact at email@example.com.
|Andrew Cohn – Center
Former PR & Marketing Manager for FOUND Magazine. Co-creator and producer of the off-Broadway play FOUND: People Find Stuff. Now it’s a Show. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Jason Bitner – #1 Hall of Famer!
Jason is the Co-Creator of FOUND Magazine, creator and Founding Editor of foundmagazine.com, and the editor of DIRTY FOUND. Bitner went on to edit the LaPorte, Indiana photo book, and create CassetteFromMyEx.com and the book “Cassette From My Ex: Stories and Soundtracks of Lost Loves.” He recently produced the excellent feature documentary film LaPorte, Indiana. He now runs a creative consultancy with his wife, Danielle, called, appropriately, The Betterment Society.
[FOUND is] an endlessly entertaining, and frequently moving, peek into people’s lives. FOUND II, the successor to the first FOUND collection published in 2004, has plenty of the former [notes] and a fair number of the latter, all of them enthralling.
FOUND magazine, the witty, inexhaustible, much-lauded periodical featuring an edited array of things formerly misplaced, dropped, or otherwise left behind by others – photographs, laundry lists, love notes, diary pages – now comes in film form. Crazy and Beautiful, the first FOUND Magazine Video Show, is a Frankenstein-like assemblage of clips from a plethora of how-to videos, home movies, and vacation video-ops that slipped away from their original owners only to be rediscovered by tenacious FOUND contributors: think of it as stream-of-consciousness video anthropology. (AF)
The editors of FOUND Magazine are known for collecting and preserving ephemera — photos, notes, and the like — so when Houston microcinema curator Andrea Grover decided to look for castoff bits of video, she knew where to turn for help. The result, FOUND Magazine’s FOUND Video Festival, is an absurd grab bag of discarded tidbits, including outmoded instructional tapes, video diaries, and TV commercial outtakes. One of Grover’s favorites is Farrah: Amateur Music Video, which captures a young girl badly lip-syncing a Dolly Parton song in a “make your own music video” booth, but, as Grover puts it, “the ’80s video effects make up for it — washes and fades and yes, a star wipe!” Yuks aplenty! Other priceless treats include January Jubilee 2000, a performance by a group of middle-school students who apparently learned their dance moves from bump-and-grind rap videos, and Deposition of Mrs. X, a courtroom document that shows a divorcing wife squirming uncomfortably in front of the camera while her ex’s lawyers enumerate her failings.
The Boston Globe
We shudder to think what sorts of home videos could turn up in tonight’s screening of the FOUND Magazine Video Show. Shudder, of course, to think about Go!’s own lost celluloid treasures. Would FOUND be so cruel as to exhibit footage from our third-grade music pageant in which we sported a cherry-red cummerbund, a wide snaggle-toothed grin, a woeful part in our baby ‘fro, and gleefully sang ”Suzy Snowflake”? Heartless fiends! Instead, we’re happy to be laughing at other sad sacks, including poor Farrah (inset). Yes, she looks a little shaky, but that’s because the makers of the film play all kinds of tricks on her with special effects.
In the pages of FOUND, crinkly, out-of-focus snapshots become spooky visual poetry, providing the briefest glimpses into strangers’ most personal moments, alternately absurd and poignant. Though at first the Intuit gallery’s ‘outsider art’ proclivities seem a bit incongruous with FOUND’s prosaic hodgepodge, one look at the crumpled scrap of paper on which a young child has painstakingly scratched the words “I LOVE” with a ballpoint pen, and suddenly the naïve ‘art’ of these everyday treasures becomes clear.
The popularity of reality programming shows how fascinated we are by human interactions. The strikingly insipid and compulsive behaviour exhibited by those on television – we, of course, would never stoop to such actions – allows us to feel superior. This has to be a cunning ploy on the part of the producers to get us to watch… FOUND, on the other hand, conjures up no such illusion. One of the most striking things about it is that it showcases how much we all have in common. We all think our ideas and sorrows, our aches and joys are unique, when in actual fact we’re all the same…
The Boston Globe
Tonight’s event is sponsored by Boston University’s Photographic Resource Center, which has a concurrent exhibit of found Polaroids up at the Sherman Gallery at BU through Dec. 17. Says PRC curator Leslie Brown: ”It’s this celebration of the vernacular photo, the everyday photo, things not considered fine art but which account for the majority of production. I’d seen these FOUND Magazine guys” do their thing in bookstores, ” and they’re hysterical. I thought I’d extend the philosophy of found, anonymous everyday things.
The mystery comes from the feelings you get when you read page after page of strangers’ lost letters, forgotten love notes or thrown away photos. What is that feeling anyway? Is it a voyeuristic sense of guilt for knowing things about people that you were never intended to know? Or is it a sort of skewed intimacy you feel when you realize other people doodle about the same random things you do? Who knows. But what Davy knows is that the brilliance comes into play when you capitalize on people’s natural curiosity about everyone else’s personal lives.
Some Other Magazine
Honest, sometimes funny and sometimes raw, the notes and pictures collaged onto the pages of FOUND Magazine are truer and more genuine than perhaps any other literature. Impossible to contrive, these scraps collected from streets and trash bins are pieces of real stories, not written by great writers, but hinted at on post-it notes and spooky torn photos, by their real characters.
The Globe and Mail
“Sweet like stone fruits, as singular as seashells and far, far stranger than fiction, the scraps of abandoned reading matter randomly accumulated and bound into FOUND belong at the centre of the summer experience… FOUND validates and stimulates a wayward, timeless gathering impulse. Try not picking up the next piece of tightly folded yellow legal paper you come across. Try not looking for one. The authors of the messages, unmasking and skewering themselves in their willful self-expression, are us, too.
Part of the joy of FOUND magazine is that these are the sort of notes we all make for ourselves, the same photographs we all take of family occasions, beach holidays and small-town parades. These are the items we all pick up, compulsively, in photocopy shops and outside photo booths, and from the counter of the corner shop. They are snippets, fragments out of all context, yet they succeed in being poignant, hilarious and frequently profound.
The lists, letters, photographs and fliers offer a unique glimpse into the human psyche and prove our inner lives are not as uniquely wonderful, or wrenching, as we think.
Last month, Rothbart and his team released a book called “FOUND: The Best Lost, Tossed and Forgotten Items from Around the World” published by Simon and Schuster. Once you pick it up, you’ll find it difficult to put down… Inside the 252 pages of Rothbart’s book are some of the funniest and occasionally sobering found items you can possibly imagine… And that’s why this book and FOUND magazine is a sociologists and psychologists dream. It’s amazing what some people will write down on paper.
“FOUND,” both magazine and book, is a voyeur’s dream. Exploring its pages, one gets a giddy high from its privileged, unauthorized glimpse into the private lives of strangers. Some of the stuff is hilarious, some of it achingly sad or pathetic, but nothing is less than human — and nothing is all that different from what most of us have thought or written at one time or another.
Part of the pleasure of FOUND Magazine is knowing that the concept behind it would have been howled down within seconds by any major periodical publisher. It is a brilliantly simple idea: contributors pick litter up and then print their most intriguing finds with no editorial comment beyond the occasional quizzical caption. The result is a kind of literary eavesdropping, slightly voyeuristic yet utterly compelling.
Ranging from the achingly intimate to the comically bizarre and dully routine, FOUND is an assemblage of the detritus of our lives: old photographs, to-do lists, love letters, napkin poetry, or birthday cards found on break-room bulletin boards, car windshields, or the sidewalk… But, this record of daily life is undoubtedly more “real” than most reality programming. No one in its pages is forced into staged situations, no one is over produced, highly edited, publicly humiliated, pumped with silicone or forced to drink offal and intestine milkshakes. Instead, they are captured quietly in time, the waste of their lives reexamined, recontextualized, and earnestly appreciated. The presentation is neither judgmental nor saccharine, but plainly straightforward. The book offers whole pages from a lost notebook found in the streets of Austin documenting the everyday struggles of a young chef battling heroin addiction–a combination of recipes for crab cakes and sorbet along with entries about trying for one more day sober. People in all their foibles, fears, eccentricities, and boring normality are offered up, pinned almost like butterfly specimens to the page.
Though Rothbart and Bitner must sift through and pare down the enormous number of submissions they receive, the overall effect feels charmingly haphazard–unedited and unplanned–with the thought-provoking nuzzling up against the childishly humorous and the strange.
At its best, FOUND can be rather moving, something that can rarely be said about most fare in the reality genre. Some of the most evocative pieces almost read like tiny, fractured stories.
Sydney Morning Herald
The creators of FOUND Magazine collect and publish stuff that has been uncovered by people all over the world… The collection is extensive, with people contributing oddities from around the world, and does provide voyeurism of the discarded. From the Polaroid of a roadside picnic found in an Auckland dump, to the US dollar that had printed “France no good, French go home,” to the “Find of the Week” – each entry has a story behind a story.
We are all crazy and insecure. Davy Rothbart knows this because he finds our letters and our notes, our secret thoughts jotted down on scraps of paper in our most honest, vulnerable moments. Not to mention our shopping lists and telephone bills… Much of the material is practically poetic in its economy of language, the tight, simple writing that describes or hints at so much roiling emotion… But after you read a few of these, you get to appreciate the lost-and-found pieces as complete works, regardless of what might be missing… Besides, once you’ve read a found note like “The iguana is loose on the porch,” what else do you really need to know?
One ordinary day, you’re walking down the street, and suddenly something glinting in the sun catches your eye. Maybe it’s a quarter, maybe just a piece of tin foil. But maybe, just maybe, it’s a treasure; a lost key, a dime-store ring, a fork flattened by years of traffic. You bend down to get a closer look, and then, when no one is looking, slip it in your pocket. And you’re not alone… FOUND’s contents are sometimes bizarre, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes downright hilarious, and other times a combination of all three.
The Plain Dealer
The best stuff is the paper trail. There is nothing like a lost or mislaid note to prove that one person’s trash is another’s treasure… The third issue of FOUND was released last month, and their first book, “FOUND: The Best Lost, Tossed and Forgotten Items From Around the World,” arrives in bookstores this week, containing 211 pages of new finds and 41 more pages of greatest hits from the magazine. It’s ridiculously eclectic and relentlessly readable – hilarious, heartbreaking, occasionally frightening and always intriguing.
For those not acquainted with the beauty of FOUND magazine, let me briefly explain. FOUND is a printed document of items discarded and rediscovered- mostly writing, drawings, and photos. Those who have seen an issue know how addictive these fleeting glimpses into the lives of complete strangers can be- whether you’re reading a misspelled shopping list or a misspelled love letter or staring at pictures that have been torn, burned or scratched out, FOUND offers you stories only partially told and allows you to piece things together yourself.
FOUND began as a pretty rough photocopied zine, and Issue 1 actually included a found object glued to each cover. It sold extremely well, catching a lot of interest, and the call for submission of found objects turned out so much great stuff that Issue 2 involved the staff upgrading to a slicker, easier to read format. The new look lost none of the character of the original and still packed in a hefty amount of modern day anthropological archaeology. Issue 3 refines the process even further, proving that the more material submitted, the better the quality of the overall material selected for the magazine.
What’s more irresistible than reading a letter not meant for your eyes? Issue 3 of FOUND magazine is full of them– letters and notes dropped or lost by their recipients and rediscovered on these pages. They’re a quirky lens into the flotsam and jetsam of humanity…
Wall Street Journal Europe
The author of the letter offers her critique directly, unsentimentally. “You have to make up your mind, Mr. Dickens, ’twas either the best of times or ’twas the worst of times; it could scarcely be both,” reads the scrawled handwriting.
No, it isn’t an unearthed manifesto from a 19th-century literary critic. It’s something a little more surreal — one entry from among hundreds of raw, poignant and funny notes collected by the U.S.-based FOUND Magazine. Twisted breakup letters, quirky to-do-lists, revealing doodles, unusual office memos, ranting high-school missives, nobly attempted poetry — the magazine along with a new book from its editors are filled with the artful detritus of everyday life, discovered, well, anywhere someone might have left it behind…
Polaroid film is expensive but that doesn’t stop people from forgetting their pictures all over the place. Lucky for all of us, FOUND Magazine has been collecting the ones left behind for years, keeping a formidable stash of the blurry, the mysterious, the touching and the unexplainable…
Artifacts are lovingly presented…
FOUND Magazine is the ultimate reality programming, a powerful fix for thinking voyeurs…
As evidenced by the brisk sales of FOUND, many other people find entertainment or solace in the pages… That’s because the endless opportunity for individual interpretation makes FOUND a beautiful thing. The submitted items mean vastly disparate things to different people, Rothbart said.
One of the most imaginative and entertaining magazines of the last decade…
Reading FOUND is like mainlining the everyday world.
Someday, while perusing the magazine isles of Barnes & Noble, amid the testosterone-injected super-men on the covers of sports magazines and the emaciated models enticing you from the covers of women’s fashion magazines, you might also find an amateurish, grainy-paged magazine entitled, FOUND. This homegrown magazine doesn’t feature frivolous Hollywood gossip, celebrities, or hyper-stylized advertisements. Nor does it provide the ultimate guide to improving your sex life/body/job/diet/health/workout. Instead, FOUND features little vignettes into the human soul.
Dayton City Paper
FOUND may just be the savior that our country, world and existence needs…
A collection of items lost on the streets, photos, love letters, birthday cards, anything that suggests a story winds up in FOUND magazine. Each of the scraps of paper serves as a peek into someone else’s life…
Los Angeles Times
Accumulating new entries via his own diligent scavenging and that of friends and readers (who send discoveries from all over the country), Rothbart has managed to create a fascinating and wonderfully moving collage of human emotion… FOUND is a kind of stranger’s scrapbook — a note from an angry neighbor, an obscene love letter, the scrawl on an eighth-grader’s math quiz — filled with the moments and memories of others.
No one could pick up a copy of FOUND magazine and not be instantly, utterly fascinated. The first volume, now in its second printing, is comprised of seemingly forgotten and mislaid scraps o’ lives – love notes, travelogues, shopping lists, a flyer for a multimedia presentation about the “Promised God-Man,” a misspelled, threatening diatribe regarding stolen laundry detergent (“your pushing me and I push back so it better be back f-ing soon”) – collected by founder Davy Rothbert and helpful cohorts and contributors. Currently on a cross-country “Nation of Millions” tour of galleries, bookstores, and cafés, FOUND’s masterminds invite all who attend their events to bring new material for future issues – no doubt the weirder, the scarier, the more oddly touching, the better.
The world is full of lost love letters if you know where to look. Davy Rothbart, the publisher of the magazine FOUND, knows where to look: the floors of city buses, the recycling bins behind Kinko’s, the backstops of windblown ball fields. Rothbart and a growing army of fellow-scavengers are constantly finding doodles, diaries, report cards, and appeals to conscience (“If you took my detergent I’m sure it was a mistake so I’m not mad yet”). Then Rothbart publishes these finds in FOUND, adding curatorial captions in a welter of typefaces, ransom-note style. His magazine is as unexpected as a tumbleweed…
The pages of FOUND Magazine are trashy. But they’re also silly, funny, and oddly intriguing. They confirm two truths about modern life: that our discards and debris tell more about us than we realize, and that Americans simply cannot spell… FOUND Magazine isn’t trying to be profound, but it can’t help it. Its longing glimpses into our private scraps of life are humbling. When gazed upon by strangers, our idiosyncrasies seem suddenly worthy of a second look. As I’m lost in the pages of FOUND Magazine, enjoying the treasure of the trash, an unsettling thought strikes me: what if one day its readers find something of mine?
Ever wondered what to do with that love note you discovered in an old Goodwill coat? Those ancient family vacation pictures you uncovered at a garage sale? Here’s a thought: Publish them. FOUND Magazine is entirely made up of its namesake: random items readers find, with explanations of how they came across them. The resulting read is sweet, embarrassing, funny, perplexing–and engrossing…
There’s something innately attractive, as recent media exploits have proven, in looking into other people’s lives. But unlike the set-up world of Web cams and reality TV, FOUND’s beauty is in its realness, in what it leaves to the imagination…
FOUND is as intriguing as it is unique, a true indulgence for the curious.
Grand Traverse Herald
FOUND magazine is a snowballing phenomenon.
A group of people have dedicated some Internet real estate to random stuff that they find. What it all amounts to is a curious little peek into the lives of unknown folks…
FOUND Magazine is an alternately funny and touching look at the idiosyncratic nature of everyday life. At a time when reality TV has us more interested in our neighbors’ lives than ever, the hyper-real magazine offers unedited, untainted, unbridled glimpses into the private and personal lives of total strangers. These notes are the very illustration of one man’s trash being another man’s treasure.
Rocky Mountain News
It’s a private person’s worst nightmare: a paperbound peek into resumes, classroom notes, grocery lists, diary entries and graffiti written by someone somewhere who didn’t realize that his or her lost items would be found in an underground magazine.
St. Louis Post Dispatch
The magazine isn’t your sleek, politically correct variety. It’s coarse and sophomoric, and its photocopied pages look as if they were pasted together. Subjects range from prison life and lovestruck teens to resume-wielding job seekers. Nevertheless, e-mails, as well as classroom notes and barroom chatter are intriguing…
“Only connect,” said E.M. Forster, but it’s getting harder and harder to tear our eyes away from the TV to do so. Maybe that’s why FOUND Magazine is so compelling. The manic tumble of discarded artifacts, letters, mash notes, and paranoid ravings exhibited therein allow us unmediated access to the lives next door.
US News & World Report
Be careful what you drop. FOUND may find it. A compelling compilation…
The premise of this site is to display found notes, pictures, or objects, and to ponder the people who left them behind. The found items here range from notes left on car windshields to handwriting left on dollar bills. There are children’s paintings and abandoned toys, and an abandoned audiocassette featuring homemade rap music. An original, and provocative site.
Los Angeles Times
FOUND is an anthology of accidentally discovered missives. Call them Shakespeare, or call them litter–this collection certainly provides a window into the mystery of unknown lives… FOUND is a trash-picker’s and anthropologist’s dream come true.
The Washington Post
…FOUND [is] an amazing new magazine that prints odd items found in streets, schools, prisons, Kinko’s shops and laundromats across America. It’s a treasury of trash, a wonderfully weird collection of screeds, snapshots, to-do lists, leaflets, drawings, diaries and love letters. Taken together, they provide a fascinating glimpse into the wackier depths of America’s collective subconscious…These found notes are fascinating because they offer a peek into the inner lives of people we’d otherwise never meet. The fact that they come to us out of context just adds to the mystery that inspires the imagination to try and fill in the blanks.
Despite my own miserable performance as a seeker, I can heartily recommend FOUND Magazine. It’s a great glimpse into other people’s lives, and it’s darn funny.
Imagine stumbling upon an opening into another person’s life and you know the weird magic of FOUND Magazine.
Davy Rothbart probably never listened to his mother when she told him not to pick up trash. Which is good: Otherwise, he might have never started FOUND Magazine. ‘FOUND stuff is like a shortcut right into someone’s innermost fears and desires,’ Rothbart says. ‘People reveal themselves so beautifully, in bizarre and hilarious ways. The best stuff has a story to it, a real sense of someone bleakly yearning for something.
Chicago Sun Times
Artists and writers have a long tradition of gathering inspiration from found items… The magazine features an interview with cartoonist Lynda Barry, a devout collector of found items, as well as a humorous story from The Onion and an excerpt from John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley.” But it is the myriad of found items reproduced in the magazine that opens up and exposes the entire world of human emotions.
On the Media
Have you ever lost something? Then this magazine is for you. Davy Rothbart took a small idea – cataloguing objects, notes, and pictures found anywhere – and published them for the world to examine. Is this existential introspection at its best, or merely a trash collection? Bob talks to Davy Rothbart about FOUND Magazine.
Yes, it’s a trashy magazine.
If you don’t already know and love FOUND Magazine, you may need some sort of operation. Ask your doctor whether shock therapy is right for you. Take my word for it: Those in the know find FOUND astounding, and you should, too.
The Portland Mercury
Half-fetish, half-fascination, FOUND keeps you hooked with its scope. It’s like people-watching, without the fear of reprisal.