Photo Gigs: David Schoerner - Founder and Publisher, Hassla Books, New York, NY

Q&A with David Schoerner

 IN PRINT: Spread from Anne Collier’s Woman With A Camera (35mm). Essay by Tom McDonough. 44 pages, soft cover, color offset, 7 x 8.5 inch, saddle-stitched book in an edition of 600 copies. Publication date: November 2009. ISBN 978-0-9825471-0-6. $ 25

Headshot courtesy of David Schoerner

PDNedu: How and why did you start Hassla Books? What does the name mean?

DS: I had started seeing these smaller artists’ books being published and wanted to do one with my own work. It was the spring of my senior year at
Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts, and it seemed like a good time to publish something. The book was kind of a culmination of my thesis. The name Hassla comes from my family’s farm in Sweden.

PDNedu: How do you select the artists you publish? How many books have you published to date?

DS: When I come across work that I like or that interests me, I try to find out more about the artist’s and what they do. Then, if I think they would be a good fit with Hassla I contact them to ask if they’d like to do something. So far, I’ve published 20 titles, on average four books a year.

PDNedu: Was having Hassla on your résumé an advantage when you made your move from New Hampshire to New York City?

DS: When I moved to New York, I had only published two titles, so I don’t think it made a huge difference in my getting a job here. However, my experience with Hassla has now allowed me to begin consulting on publications for galleries and artists.

PDNedu: Which of your books have been most successful, and what did this do for your visibility and that of the artist?

DS: About half of the books have sold out, so I’d consider those fairly successful. A couple of the more emerging artists I’ve worked with have told me it was their Hassla book that led to their first New York solo show, or that they started getting more editorial and commercial work as a result of the book, which is always great to hear. I think Hassla’s visibility has benefited most from continually releasing books with interesting artists. It’s not just one book, it’s all of them that have made Hassla what it is today.

PDNedu: Please tell us about the book production process. Where are the books printed, and how long is the process from start to finish?

DS: The time varies for each publication. Some take as little as a month from approaching an artist to the final book, but it’s usually about two to three months, sometimes longer. I work with a printer in Hong Kong.

PDNedu: Has book publishing been financially successful for you? Do you work other jobs to make ends meet?

DS: I don’t make my living from Hassla, but it does support itself. For income, I work in the imaging division at Art+Commerce, scanning, color balancing and so on.

PDNedu: How much time, effort and funds go into being a publisher versus the pursuit of your own artwork?

DS: Hassla is currently able to sustain itself financially. The time I spend varies depending on if I’m working on a publication or not. Overall, I’d say it splits pretty evenly, although sometimes I spend more time on my own work and other times I spend more on Hassla.

PDNedu: How do you see Hassla evolving from here? What is your biggest dream at this point?

DS: I’d like to quit my day job to just do Hassla and make my own work.



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