The joy of research

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I'm working on a magazine design project at the mo (more news on that soon), which means one very exciting thing: time to raid the mag collection! The research stage of any job is always a lot of fun, especially when you get to flick through (and, when nobody's looking, sniff) all the beautiful print I've stockpiled over the years.

Due to the space limitations of our little flat, I don't have a massive magazine collection nestling on some fresh Vitsoe shelves (one day, one day), but I do have some right gems. Modern men's magazines like Port and Man About Town are impossible to throw away (unlike my recently trimmed Esquire collection – a magazine that last year rapidly went from suave gent to watch-obsessed totty-leering Sid James), and I've still got some choice remnants of my once-massive collection of The Face. Plus a few odds and sods – a particularly attractive copy of Loud and Quiet, some Little White Lies, all the Gym Class Magazines (naturally), a box of newsprint lovelies. And my word, they are an absolute joy to sift through.

There's comparing the playful flannel panel in each issue of Little White Lies. There's Man About Town's article on the Citroën DS. There's obsessing over the sublime Spice Girls cover of The Guardian Weekend. There's finding the single review of Portishead's Sour Times in The Face and realising your teenage years are a LONG way away now.

Of course, simply looking at how other people do it isn't a particularly healthy way to create something new, but it's certainly an eye-opening, imagination-expanding part of the process. Increasingly, I'm finding that the parts of a design job that don't involve going anywhere Creative Suite are generally the most enjoyable and rewarding. It's just one of the many things I absolutely love about this job: eyes and brain are always open, always learning.