IN PRINT: (clockwise from left)
Spread from Anne Collier’s Woman
With A Camera (35mm), book covers from Lucas Blalock’s Towards a
Warm Math (2011) and Sam Falls’
Color Dying Light, (2009, sold out).
Q&A with David Schoerner, founder and publisher, Hassla Books, New York, NY
(an independent publishing company with a focus on art and photography)
Headshot courtesy of David Schoerner, all books © Hassla Books/Anne Collier (open book),
Lucas Blalock, Sam Falls (book covers, top and bottom)
PDNedu: How and why did you start
Hassla Books? What does the
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 fair-
ly 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.