Finding aid for The Thing Quarterly, 2007-2014.

Kit Messick

Descriptive Summary

Title: The Thing Quarterly
Date (inclusive): 2007-2014
Number: 2961-216
Creator/Collector: Thing Quarterly
Physical Description: 14 Linear Feet (28 boxes, 3 volumes, 1 tube)
The Getty Research Institute
Special Collections
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles 90049-1688
(310) 440-7390
Abstract: The Thing is a quarterly periodical in the form of an object. Each year, four artists, writers, musicians or filmmakers are invited by the editors (Jonn Herschend and Will Rogan) to create an everyday object that somehow incorporates text. This object will be reproduced and hand wrapped at a wrapping party and then mailed to the homes of the subscribers with the help of the United States Postal Service.
Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record   for this collection. Click here for the access policy .
Language: Collection material is predominantly in English.

Biographical / Historical

"The Thing is a quarterly periodical in the form of an object. Each year, four artists, writers, musicians or filmmakers are invited by the editors (Jonn Herschend and Will Rogan) to create an everyday object that somehow incorporates text. This object will be reproduced and hand wrapped at a wrapping party and then mailed to the homes of the subscribers with the help of the United States Postal Service."-- THE THING website,, viewed 1 September 2014.

Administrative Information


Open for use by qualified researchers, with the exception of unreformatted audio visual materials, which are unavailable until reformatted.

Publication Rights

Preferred Citation

The Thing Quarterly, 2007-2014, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2961-216.

Processing Information

Item descriptions were taken from THE THING website, .

Scope and Content of Collection

THE THING Quarterly is a periodical in the form of an object. It's like a magazine, except that each issue is conceived of by a different contributor and then published on a useful object. -- THE THING website,, viewed 1 September 2014. Descriptions of items and issues are taken from THE THING website.


Arranged chronologically.

Indexing Terms

Subjects - Topics

Art objects -- California -- San Francisco -- 21st century -- Periodicals

Genres and Forms of Material

Artists' books -- United States -- 21st century
Multiples -- 21st century


Creed, Martin
Franco, James
July, Miranda
Johanson, Chris
Rogan, Will
Herschend, Jonn
Thing Quarterly
No Age (Musical group)
Higgs, Matthew
Baldessari, John
Ebner, Shannon
Mills, Mike
Kine, Starlee
Eggers, Dave
Auerbach, Tauba
Marcus, Ben
Muller, Dave
Shrigley, David
Donnelly, Trisha
Pullen, Lucy
Ezawa, Kota
Nichols, Tucker
Paglen, Trevor
Gander, Ryan
Allora & Calzadilla
Lethem, Jonathan
Muller, Dave

tube 1

Issue 1 - Miranda July 2007

Scope and Content Note

Miranda's issue was a vinyl pull-down window shade complete with mounting brackets. There were two different shades with text silkscreened on the inside of each. The process of selection was completely random.
box 2

Issue 2 - Anne Walsh 2007

Scope and Content Note

Issue 2, by Anne Walsh, is a solid rubber wedge with a letter written to Tennis Star Billie Jean King set into the top of the wedge. The letter was written by a very young Walsh. Issue includes a list of ways that the wedge can be used.
box 3

Issue 3 - Kota Ezawa 2007

Scope and Content Note

Issue 3, by Kota Ezawa, consists of the shipping box stamped in Cyrillic, a letter from the editors translated into Mandarin, and a white baseball cap with Arabic text.
volume 4

Issue 3.5 - Tucker Nichols 2007

Scope and Content Note

Issue 3.5, by Tucker Nichols, was a surprise issue. The issue consists of four beer mats, each with text from businesses Tucker encountered on a trip to Northern California.
volume 5

Issue 4 - Trisha Donnelley 2008

Scope and Content Note

Issue 4, by Trisha Donnelly, is a secret issue only known to those who subscribed during the first year.
box 6

Issue 5 - Lucy Pullen 2008

Scope and Content Note

Issue 5, by Lucy Pullen, is a mathematically bisected piece of Canadian white ash with the words "Event Being" drilled into two angles. It is accompanied by a small poster of her original design.
box 7

Issue 6 - Allora & Calzadilla 2009

Scope and Content Note

Issue 6, by Allora & Calzadilla, consisted of a blank book, entitled "Problems and Promises," which was attached to a tennis shoe. One of the tennis shoe laces was sewn into the spine of the book.
box 8

Issue 7 - Jonathan Lethem February-April 2009

Scope and Content Note

Jonathan's issue is entitled the "Chaldron Optical System," and was created in collaboration with Project Selima and Matt. It relates to his novel Chronic City and consists of a glasses case, a pair of clear glasses with text on each of the arms, and a care and maintenance manual written in both English and French.
box 9

Issue 8 - Trevor Paglen May-July 2009

Scope and Content Note

Issue 8 is by experimental geographer Trevor Paglen. The issue was a military style coffee mug with a patch that Trevor had collected from the military's "black" world, the world of the military that officially does not exist.
box 10

Issue 9 - Ryan Gander and Europa Winter 2009

Scope and Content Note

Issue 9 is by visual artist Ryan Gander and design collective Europa. This issue was released on Dec. 16, 2009. Their issue consists of a package of parallel playing cards (card printed on both sides). The cards come with an insert poster and explanation of the project and instructions for a game of parallel black jack.
box 11

Issue 10 - Starlee Kine Spring 2010

Scope and Content Note

Starlee's issue of THE THING, entitled "Crying Instructions," is a bamboo cutting board designed only for onion cutting, with text that has been seared into its surface. It also includes a locker poster of a crying McNulty from The Wire TV series (illustrated by Arthur Jones), and a set of Crying Instructions written by Starlee.
box 12

Issue 11 - Chris Johanson February-April 2010

Scope and Content Note

Issue 11, by visual artist Chris Johanson, is a set of handmade ceramic wine cups designed by Chris and created in collaboration with Pigeon Toe Ceramics in Portland. The issue comes complete with a poster of the moon rising and instructions for drinking wine and relaxing with friends. The bottom of each cup has the text, "I wish you well."
box 13

Issue 12 - DOO.RI Fall 2010

Scope and Content Note

Issue 12 is by the clothing design collaborative DOO.RI. The issue is a custom made T-shirt made of sheer fabric with a 3-foot long tag that hangs down the back of the shirt listing every possible fabric, manufacturing location, and washing instruction ever listed on a shirt. The issue comes complete with two sewn-in grommets and push-pins for wall display.
box 14

Issue 13 - Martin Creed Winter 2010-2011

Scope and Content Note

Issue 13 is by visual artist, writer and curator Matthew Higgs and visual artist Martin Creed. The issue consists of a 12 inch vinyl 120 gram picture disk with Mathew Higgs on one side and Martin Creed on the other. The record contains one track by Martin Creed entitled "My Advice" with words and music by Martin Creed.
box 15

Issue 14 - James Franco Spring-Summer 2011

Scope and Content Note

Issue 14 is by actor, writer, filmmaker and visual artist James Franco. It consists of a 6 x 8.5 inch table mirror with a wallet sized photo of the actor Brad Renfro (now deceased). The photo is set into the mirror frame and is accompanied by handwritten, lipstick text (written on each mirror by James Franco). The text reads "Brad Forever." The issue also includes a 9.5 x 27 inch black and white fold-out poster of James receiving a carving of the word "BRAD" in his arm by tattooer Mark Mahoney.
box 16

Issue 15 - MacFadden & Thorp Fall 2011

Scope and Content Note

Issue 15 is by San Francisco-based graphic designers Brett MacFadden and Scott Thorpe. It consists of a three color flag (24" x 36" inches) and comes complete in a triangular box and a printed Flag Code. The design on the flag indicates the instructions on how to fold the flag. It is a flag that stands for folding a flag.
box 17

Issue 16 - Dave Eggers Winter 2011-2012

Scope and Content Note

Issue 16 is by American writer Dave Eggers. Published on a shower curtain, with the idea that one would read it while showering, this issue is a monologue told to Dave Eggers by his shower curtain. It was produced in collaboration with Izola and is printed on a 72" x 72" inch PEVA (PVC-free) shower curtain.
box 18

Issue 17 - Shannon Ebner Spring 2012

Scope and Content Note

Issue 17 is by Los Angeles-based visual artist Shannon Ebner. Shannon's issue features a glass bottle filled with syrup from the maple trees surrounding Mike Czok's house in Braintree, Vermont, complete with a gold sticker that reads "syrup." The issue also includes an 18" x 27" fold out poster of a black and white photograph of a tree.
box 19

Issue 18 - Mike Mills Fall 2012

Scope and Content Note

Issue 18 is by American filmmaker and visual artist Mike Mills. Entitled "The Fabric of Events," the issue is a minimalist nod to the punk rock aesthetic of the 70s and 80s and serves as both a 2013 pocket calendar and a brief survey of historical events that have had cultural impact on each of us.
volume 20

2012 special project - Dave Muller 2012

Scope and Content Note

This fold-out pamphlet, Dave's Top Ten Compass Roses for 2012 , was sent as a thank you gift for continuing subscribers.
box 21

Issue 19 - David Shrigley Spring 2013

Scope and Content Note

Issue 19 is by visual artist David Shrigley. Entitled THE TRAVEL ISSUE , it was produced in collaboration with designer Matt Singer and consists of a leather travel wallet lovingly gold foiled with the text "The Travel Wallet." Inside the wallet there is a series of four double-sided removable phrase cards and a 24 page passport book (which can also be removed). The phrase cards are in English (in Mr. Shrigley's handwriting) and are designed to be used in all situations where phrases are required. Some examples of text on the cards: "Can I have your shoes?" and "Please Help me." Written and illustrated by Mr. Shrigley, the 24 page passport book is a meditation on travel, existentialism, and pool splashing.
box 22

Issue 20 - Tauba Auerbach Summer 2013

Scope and Content Note

Issue 20, by visual artist Tauba Auerbach, takes the form of a 24-hour wall clock. Auerbach is known for creating work about language and logic through a variety of media. Her training as a traditional sign painter often informs her text-based work. For this issue, the artist designed the clock face and its 24 numerals. The clock's mechanism runs from midnight to midnight, meaning the hands circle the clock once every 24 hours.
box 23

Issue 21 - Ben Marcus Fall 2013

Scope and Content Note

Issue 21 is by experimental novelist Ben Marcus. The issue includes a custom tin of Thompson Cream - a salve for people and things, as well as an accompanying booklet containing text by Marcus. It can be applied to most any situation.
box 24

Issue 22 - John Baldessari Winter 2014

Scope and Content Note

Issue 22 is by LA-based conceptual artist John Baldessari. It consists of two 100% cotton sateen pillowcases featuring an image of a woman clutching a pillow. The black and white image is taken from a Hollywood film still in Baldessari's collection and has been silkscreened on each pillowcase with environmentally-friendly, water-based ink.
box 25

Issue 23 - David Korty special edition 2014

Scope and Content Note

THE THING Quarterly's issue 23 is by LA-based visual artist David Korty. This special edition of the issue contains a set of six hand-made ceramic dice (sculpted by Oakland-based ceramic studio Atelier Dion and hand-dyed by David Korty), a custom dice-carrying bag (featuring unique drawings by Korty), and instructions for the game "Mr. Natural." Please note that these editions are not numbered or signed.
box 26

Issue 24 - Rodarte September 2014

Scope and Content Note

Issue 24 is by Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, with contributions from experimental punk group No Age and director/photographer Todd Cole. It thematically revolves around the idea of deconstruction, a common theme in Rodarte's design work. The record's sound and imagery are repurposed from 'Aanteni' (2010), a short art and fashion film produced by Rodarte, which also features direction by Todd Cole and an original soundtrack by No Age. The film explores similar themes of balance and chaos.
The 12" picture disc on clear vinyl features two tracks by No Age. Side A provides the ambient 9-minute soundtrack from 'Aanteni' with an abstracted film still by Todd Cole. Side B features a 13-minute live version of the track, "ruined" by looping the sound repeatedly on itself, with burnt remnants of Cole's same film still. A conceptualized inner sleeve and gatefold jacket house the issue, displaying more of Cole's imagery. The issue also includes a free download of both No Age tracks and comes shrink-wrapped in a signature THING Quarterly custom box.
Unreformatted audio visual materials are unavailable until reformatted.
box 27

Issue 25 - Brian Roettinger January 2015

Scope and Content Note

Los Angeles–based artist and two-time Grammy-nominated graphic designer Brian Roettinger is celebrated for the graphic design and art direction he has created for artists, architects and musicians such as No Age, Liars, Beach House and Jay-Z. Issue 25 is a massive catalogue raisonné that collects, documents and indexes the majority of Roettinger's design work produced to date.
box 28

Issue 26 - Gabriel Orozco Spring 2015

Scope and Content Note

Gabriel Orozco was born in Jalapa, Veracruz, Mexico. He was educated at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas between 1981 and 1984 and at the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid between 1986 and 1987. Known for his investigations into circularity, cycles, rotation, spinning, and movement, Orozco is, perhaps not surprisingly, also an avid boomerang thrower. Issue 26 fuses his art and his sport by taking the form of a boomerang made in the USA from aircraft-grade birch. Also included is a limited run fold-out poster.
box 29

Issue 27 - Michelle Grabner Summer 2015

Scope and Content Note

Michelle Grabner (born 1962, Wisconsin) is Professor and Chair of the Painting and Drawing Department at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she has been teaching since 1996. Grabner and her husband Brad Killam run the artist project space called The Suburban in Oak Park, Illinois, which they developed with friend David Robbins in response to the idea that the suburbs were an overlooked site for avant-garde activities. Issue 27 is a fully functional gingham soccer ball that also functions as a physical rebuttal to Ken Johnson's 2014 New York Times review of Michelle's exhibition at James Cohan Gallery, in which he referred to Michelle's work as that of a boring soccer mom. The issue includes a pamphlet containing a brief introduction, an interview with Michelle Grabner by editor Jonn Herschend, and a reproduction of Joe Fyfe's review of the review in HyperAllergic.
box 30

Issue 28 - Jason Fulford & Tamara Shopsin Fall 2015

Scope and Content Note

Jason Fulford is a photographer and co-founder of J & L Books. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and a contribution editor at Blind Spot. Tamara Shopsin is a graphic designer and illustrator whose work has been featured in The New York Times, Good, Time, Wired, and Newsweek. Issue 28 is an edition of 1000 hand-numbered ceramic lottery balls. One ball contains a genuine diamond; the other 999 each have a cubic zirconia inside. The balls were made in Oakland, CA by Atelier Dion. Caitlyn Galloway hand-painted each one.
box 31

Issue 29 - Ricky Swallow February 2016

Scope and Content Note

Issue 29 is a porcelain egg cup by LA-based artist Ricky Swallow. It was conceived alongside Swallow's SHAKER BELL, a limited edition project for THE THING. The starting point for both objects was the shaker peg, originally designed by Shakers to adhere to their guiding principals of simplicity, utility, and honesty. THE THING and Swallow worked closely with North Carolina-based ceramic studio Haand to create a precise mold of the cardboard form. Using traditional craft methods, the studio then produced the final porcelain objects in a limited run of 700. A custom stamp bearing the initials TTQ/RS is pressed into the bottom of each cup. A printed poster designed by the artist and TTQ accompanies each object.
box 32

Issue 30 - Raimundus Malašauskas Summer 2016

Scope and Content Note

Issue 30 is a is a collaboration between curator and writer Raimundas Malašauskas, fashion and theater costume designer Sandra Straukaitė, and artist Elena Narbutaitė. All three were born in Vilnius, Lithuania. The issue is made from printed cotton fabric which was produced using images taken from a journal Raimundas Malašauskas dropped into water and gave to Elena Narbutaitė. The fabric was then sewn into a collar designed by Sandra Straukaitė. The object itself is the result of a conversation between these three. It is intended to be worn. Included with the issue is an accounting of some of the conversations that went into the production of the collar, these conversations will both shed light on and complicate your understanding of it.
box 33

Issue 31 - Ken Kagami November 2016

Scope and Content Note

For Issue 31, Tokyo based visual artist Ken Kagami created a black and white bath towel with all the hidden body parts placed on the outside of the towel...and they are smiling. The issue includes a zine by Ken Kagami entitled Sexy Body Parts, with an introduction by Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg.
box 34

Issue 32 - Experimental Jetset January 2017

Scope and Content Note

Designed by the Dutch design collective Experimental Jetset, and made here in the USA, Issue 32 is called THE NO-THING. It's an all-purpose, wearable protest blanket, which says NO or ON depending on how you want to spin your current emotional or political state of being.
If things get messy, it cleans up easily in the washing machine because it is 100% cotton. If things get chilly, it can also be used as a couch-based, TV viewing blanket. If the mood of 'NO' just doesn't feel right, flip it over to the 'ON' side and get things going!
box 35

Issue 33 - Amanda Ross-Ho, Spring 2017

Scope and Content Note

Issue 33 is a "trap & release" set consisting of a handblown drinking glass and postcard of the world. It is intended for spiders and other wayward insects that find their way into your home. Use it as an effective and empathetic mechanism for redirection, or as a way to relax with a cold beer or a hot tea while viewing the world in miniature. Either way, we love the poetry found in this architecture of compassion.
Amanda Ross-Ho lives and works in Los Angeles. Her work draws from a broad hierarchy of structures, mapping connectivity within the overlapping ecologies of personal and universal phenomena. Her evolving personal language combines forensic and theatrical gestures, diagramming the reflexive relationships between production, presentation, and the social contracts of viewership. Her sculpture, painting, photography, installation, and most recently, public works have been exhibited widely, nationally and internationally.
box 36

Issue 34 - Dave Muller Summer 2017

Scope and Content Note

Issue 34 is a pair of cement bookends by LA-based artist Dave Muller. For his issue, he used THE THING's go-to font, Helvetica, on a bookend design that incorporates books (specifically ONE LAST THING , a catalogue of every issue produced in this quarterly, and included with this issue) as the letter 'I'. The bookends were fabricated by Atelier Dion in Oakland, California.