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Monday, July 28, 2014 Last Update: 6:18 pm EDT
Posted on | August 20, 2010|No Comments
Posted by The Photography Post

David Schoerner launched Hassla Books in January of 2007. The independent publishing company has released 14 titles to date with another handful in the works. I had the pleasure of looking through the nearly-full collection of Hassla books – several titles have sold out – and asked Schoerner to characterize the project.

DS: I publish small artist books that are limited-edition. I don’t do reprints and I try to keep the books affordable – the majority are around $20.

LN: What was the impetus for starting Hassla?

DS: I’d seen some small artist books that other people had done and I really loved them. I started by making my own very small book and I continued by working with other artists.

From David Schoerner, Hassla, 2007

LN: Since this is The Photography Post, could you speak about the relationship between your press and photography?

DS: Well, a lot of the books I’ve done have been photo-based. I am a photographer, I come from a photography background, so many of the artists I know best are photographers or artists working with photography. I tend toward photographic work, which happens to lend itself particularly well to book form. When you get into drawing and painting it can be difficult to make a publication that functions as more than simply a catalogue, whereas with photography it can very easily stand alone.

LN: In the instances where you’ve published drawing or painting, is there an overt relationship to photography beyond the fact that the work is being selected by you?

DS: Dan McCarthy, for example, is making drawings from photographs of friends, or using magazine images as points of reference. There is definitely a connection, a sensibility that all of the books share.

From Dan McCarthy, Hassla, 2009

LN: Hassla is in part a curatorial project. Are there other small presses that influenced you, where you were aware of a unique sensibility permeating all of the publications?

DS: Nieves is the first small press I was aware of doing this type of artist’s book. They had been around for at least 6 years before I got started and they are involved in the culture of photocopied zines as well, not something I do. Nieves had a really big influence on me, especially Tokyo and my Daughter, a book they published with Takashi Homma.

LN: And you were able to eventually do a book with Homma, First, Jay Comes, a combination of photographs and drawings.

From First, Jay Comes by Takashi Homma, Hassla, 2009

From First, Jay Comes by Takashi Homma, Hassla, 2009

DS: Yes. He told me that he had been working on some new photographs but also a series of drawings, which he seemed to find amusing. They work well together, there is a violence but also an incredible beauty in the photography and seemingly quick, gestural paintings of blood in snow.

LN: Can you speak about working with some of the artists you’ve published?

DS: When I contacted Anne Collier, she was in residence at Artpace San Antonio working on a slideshow of stills from the 1970s film, The Eyes of Laura Mars. Happily, she thought it could work well as a book. I met Dan McCarthy a couple of years before starting Hassla and we’ve since become good friends. I did my second book with him. I liked his work immediately when I first saw it. I am attracted to his visual sensibility. The first pieces I saw were naked women standing on skateboards or surfing. I grew up skateboarding and surfing and the subject matter speaks to me. When I contacted him about doing a book he was working on an exhibition in France, so this became a companion piece.

From Woman With A Camera (35mm) by Anne Collier, Hassla, 2009

LN: How does the conception and layout of a project work?

DS: In many different ways. For The Strangeness of This Idea by Kate Steciw, the most recent publication, it was extremely collaborative. I would shoot her an idea and she would respond. I’d work on pacing and image sequence and show her; there was a lot of back and forth.

From The Strangeness of This Idea by Kate Steciw, Hassla, 2010

LN: What’s it like making an approach to photographers as a Publisher?

DS: It’s one of the best things. Especially when some of the artists whose work I looked at when I was studying to be a photographer love Hassla and want to do a project. It’s fantastic!

LN: What’s on deck for Hassla?

DS: I’m working on a book with New York-based photographer Pierre Le Hors. We’re exploring some unusual printing techniques for this book which will probably be around 300 pages. I’m also hosting a warehouse sale in my apartment tomorrow from 12pm to 6pm (171 Ave C, 2D)! All titles will be half price for one day only!

Lisa Naftolin was most recently Creative Director of Art + Commerce and will be Executive Director, Creative Branding for Nars beginning in September. She has been a visiting artist at Cooper Union, a visiting critic in Design at Yale, and a mentor in the Photography program at SVA.

Posted on | July 28, 2010|No Comments
Posted by The Photography Post

In April of 2010 VII Photo launched the online publication, VII The Magazine , to present stories shot by the agency’s photographers. TPP contributor, Lisa Naftolin, checked in with the project’s editor, Scott Thode.

LN: You’ve been a photo editor on print magazines in the past, but this is something new. How are you finding the online experience?

ST: I’m absolutely loving it. Finding different ways of telling stories visually with this amazing group of photographers is a dream. We aren’t dealing in words with this magazine for the most part — though that’s coming — so the focus is always going to be on the visual, finding interesting ways of telling visual stories. It’s called a magazine but that’s a strange way to refer to this. It’s not a print magazine, it’s not like taking a magazine you’d find on the newsstand and putting it online. We are creating a new form of story telling and journalism and that’s what makes it fascinating for me.

The Albanians

Albanians by Joachim Ladefoged

Is there anything that exists online now that you might compare it to or that was an inspiration?

I’m not sure there is anything right now to compare it to. This is an experiment and we are creating it from scratch, making it up as we go.  I have to commend the VII photographers for having the guts and foresight to do this. As far as what inspires me, I think that comes directly from the material I am working with and the personalities of the individual photographers, including their and my own quirks.

One of the challenging aspects of putting out a magazine is determining it’s voice, knowing who it’s addressing. Can you comment on that aspect of creating VII?

I’m like a kid in a candy store! I really am. There are all of these wonderful stories and I ask myself, ‘what do I feel like doing today? I guess I edit to my personal taste to a certain degree, but I also do think a lot about keeping the content varied. If I do two heavy duty stories two weeks in a row, like Christopher Morris’s Black Tide or Ashley Gilbertson’s The Consequences of War, I may want to follow up the next week with something that’s a bit of fun, like Jessica Dimmock’s Paparazzi or Ziyah Gafic’s Tito’s Bunker. It is my hope that if you wander around the magazine there will be something that piques your interest.

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Black Tide by Christopher Morris

I’m a person with a range of interests, a lot of different ways of seeing the world, as are the photographers at VII.  “Entertain me,” “Educate me,” “Do something,” that’s the kind of magazine I’m trying to make. I hope that as people come to this it will draw them in. One of the most exciting things for me is that despite the fact that we haven’t put this out there in a big way yet, the numbers tell us that people are spending 7-10 minutes on the site at a time which, in the internet world, is a long time. That means people are staying with the stories.


Paparazzi by Jessica Dimmock

One thing that makes this unique and truly different from a traditional magazine is that a magazine determines its course and then assigns stories, whereas this material is generated by the VII photographers who will create it with or without the magazine, and then it passes through your editorial funnel, which is a compelling difference.

It is unique in terms of what’s happening in the business because with VII The Magazine the power lies with the photographers. It used to lie in the hands of people who were buying, the print magazines and newspapers. We have the material and that’s where our strength is. We’re not sitting back waiting for people to buy it, we’re putting it out there ourselves.

What state are stories in when they come to you?

Every state! With a lot of the stuff I’ll start from scratch. I’ll see something on the VII site and start a conversation, or they’ll send me something… I was working on a Car story by Christopher Morris the other day I was a bit hesitant because the shots were a little old so I emailed him and said “Do you have any more cars?” He said he’d been shooting them for years and had just shot more the previous day. Then he said, “I also have this video I made when I was down in the Gulf.” It was just about done. He sent me the piece and with a few edits we were able to get it up right away. It’s a 9 1/2 minute video, not something that a lot people would put up on their site, but I said “let’s just do it.” It’s gotten a lot of response from people. The great thing about what we’re doing is that we can do what we want.

Some of the longer pieces are really evocative – the viewer is transported somewhere, seeing what’s taking place, feeling something, hopefully wanting to know more…

I want people to have an emotional response to these stories. I’ve deliberately kept the pieces very straightforward, very sophisticated. I try to never lose sight of the fact that the imagery, whether it’s still photos or videos, must always come first. I guess the ultimate goal from my point of view is to let the individual voices and vision of the VII photographers ring out in a new and exciting way.

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Haiti by VII; James Nachtwey

Moscow Nights

Moscow Nights by Antonin Kratochvil

How is word of this site getting out?

Right now you get to it through word of mouth, via Lens Culture or VII or the Herald Scotland. We want to be very careful not to grow it too fast. We’re just entering the second phase: it will become its own thing, with its own identity.

Lisa Naftolin was most recently Creative Director of Art + Commerce and will be Executive Director, Creative Branding for Nars beginning in September. She has been a visiting artist at Cooper Union, a visiting critic in Design at Yale, and a mentor in the Photography program at SVA.