A couple years back, I came across a Hassla publication at Dashwood Books in New York; it was small in size, had a clean design and the photographs ranged from obscure objects, portraits and various landscapes. The book I’m describing was called “David Schoerner” and after doing some online research I found out that Schoerner was not only a photographer but also an entrepreneur. David formed Hassla in 2007 with the intention to publish artists he liked and respected but to also have a platform to show his own work. Now in its third year, Hassla has produced twelve books from emerging and established artists, been labeled the “anti-Taschen” by Monocle magazine and have had numerous titles included on respected book lovers recommended lists. This spring Hassla will complete a full circle with the release of their thirteenth book, the monograph will feature David’s newest work and will be the first hardcover from his independent publishing house.
David Schoerner, From Photographs by David Schoerner (Forthcoming, Spring 2010)
At what point did you realize you wanted to branch out from your photography and launch Hassla books?
I don’t really think of it as having branched out from my photography. The first book I did was a book of my own work and am about to release a new book of my work. It was about three years ago that I decided to start Hassla and then a few months later I released the first book. I had been working at a magazine at the time and started to feel my interest move more towards the book and wanted to be able to make affordable limited artist books with artists whose work I liked.
Has working with other artists inspired or changed your approach to creating a photograph or book?
I think it has, I don’t know if I could name specifics but I think when working with anyone you learn new things and how to see things differently.
Are you directing the sequence of the images, deciding the fonts and paper stock or is it a joint effort between the artist and yourself?
It varies from book to book. Some of the books are much more collaborative between myself and the artist and ideas are bounced back and forth between one another. Sometimes the artist will just give me the sequence and I help decide paper etc. and a couple books the artist has worked with a designer they know and I don’t make any of the decisions but let them decide.
I read somewhere that Takashi Homma has had a huge impact on your personal work, what was it like to work with him?
I’d say Homma has had an influence on my personal work; however, we didn’t work much together on his book. He told me he wanted it to be the size of my first book and then he sent me the edit/layout and together we decided that there should be no text on the cover. That’s about it though.
When browsing the shelves of a bookshop what stands out to you and why?
I love books with text only on the cover. Simplicity. It allows for a greater connection between the work and viewer.
Who or what has been inspiring you lately?
All the artists I’ve been working with.
You recently launched Artist Book Database, a website that’s regularly updated with artists books, catalogues and zines. How do you find the time to balance all your endeavors while working a full time job?
I’m not sure…. an understanding girlfriend and a 6 pack at home instead of the bar…