It’s easy to tell when I’ve reached the bottom of the creative well on a project… as I run to the safety of my plans chest.

If anyone needs to use the adjacent printer they know to do it quickly, as very soon the area is completely inaccessible. The floor a swelling mass of printed matter, a befuddled creative director buried beneath.

Like most designers I’m a hoarder and collector. Ephemera, old type books, limited edition small press books, signs, games, stamps, packaging and my trusty old copies of Typographica – they never fail.

This growing trove of personal treasures is sourced from afar: the Oxford Fine Press Book Fair held each February (it does feel like a room full of geography teachers, but it’s well worth a rummage), the book shops of Prague (no stag-do should be without a visit to the antiquarian book shop, lads) and the Oxfam book shop on London’s Marylebone High Street.

That said, inspiration rarely comes from the objects themselves, but more from the distraction they cause. While I’m contentedly foraging, the old grey matter is doing the real work.

And almost without fail, my best ideas come about when I think I’ve stopped thinking.

Rob Howan – Purpose

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