During the art making process, I use research throughout, from the beginning to the end. I do try and front load my learning though. I realized early on that you need a better understanding of a subject early on to make quick decisions when you are in the middle of actually creating something. You can’t get caught up in constantly going back and forth; it’s not efficient.
So, I usually do a broad look, then start to pick apart the info I need. Once I have a general grasp on a subject, I move further into the project. It’s quite often the case, though, that I fall down a rabbit hole and end up on a completely different subject than I started. I love when that happens, but I have to be careful not to waste too much time on irrelevant information. It’s difficult to find when to stop, but it’s usually when my mind can’t absorb any more or I forget why I started. Some research I can remember and recall later in my mind, but more often than not I have to leave the source up as I create, whether it’s an image, article, or just a list of facts.