Up & Away, 2011

A Mad Tea Party with Alice, 2011

“For better or worse, you can’t simply start being an artist when work begins

, and then stop being one when work is over,” photographer Claire Rosen writes in her new book, “You are an artist all the time.”

IMAGINARIUM: The Process Behind the Pictures is a book for creative people who dare to step out of their comfort zones, dig deep, and pull something beautiful out of the murky abyss of their own minds. Rosen’s own photographs— made from her dreams, her memories, and old stories— illustrate the guide, taking us through the steps of finding, brainstorming, executing, and editing ideas.

Rosen doesn’t give quick-fixes; instead, she offers a roadmap. The book is full of exercises you’ve never tried before, and they require passion, time, and commitment. They’re also fun. One of them involves making a list of every single use of a toothbrush you could possibly conceive in your imagination.

IMAGINARIUM, while filled with concrete, practical pieces of advice, also allows room for the mysterious and intangible pieces of the creative process. Her own anecdotes, many remembered from her childhood, read like tiny, everyday fairytales. My favorite is her unexpected discovery of her late grandfather’s commercial photographs, images she’d never seen before. Some of them could easily be mistaken for Rosen’s own.

She works through the darker side of the process too: the self-doubt, the anxiety, the depression. Her acknowledgment of the more painful aspects of creativity breaks down barriers and makes us feel less alone. She doesn’t have the cure, but she has advice.

IMAGINARIUM also includes artist interviews with Maggie Steber, Roger Ballen, Robin Schwartz, Gabriela Iancu, Eleanor McNair, and Sara Lando, along with words by Alessia Glaviano, Senior Photo Editor at Vogue Italia, Rebecca Manson, retouching expert at The Post Office, and Beth Taubner, Creative Director at Mercurylab.

Rosen incorporates seemingly disparate elements like Jungian and cognitive psychology, feng shui, and art history to create a book that will read differently to every person who reads it. In the end, she dedicates it to her parents, for teaching her to always preserve “a sense of wonder & adventure.”

IMAGINARIUM: The Process Behind the Pictures is published by Rocky Nook. Find it here.

50.0755° N, 14.4378° E The Traveling Mouse outside of Strahov Monastery in Prague, Czech Republic, 2015

Classics, 2009

Fairie Catching, 2008

Off the Wall, 2007

The Hedgehog Feast, 2013

Jeremy Fisher

All images © Claire Rosen

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