Research paradigms are only starting to emerge in relation to art and design practice. Consequently, research design in this domain often employs perspectives and methods developed in other disciplines. This paper traces the development of a proposal that combines theories from cognitive linguistics with graphic design practice. It describes the resulting challenges to and transformations of my long-held assumptions and understanding about graphic design and the communication process. It also outlines the way in which semantic analysis (a method from cognitive linguistics) will be used in conjunction with different forms of visualisation--with visualisation used as a method to generate data for analysis as well as to present findings. Finally, it argues for an engagement by designers with conceptual metaphor theory and conceptual blending theory, as a way to facilitate reflection on design practice.