So which is more important in creative work? Is it more important for your work to communicate a social comment and provide meaningful content? Or is it more important that your work is received well as a decorative piece?
I find this topic interesting, because I find myself fighting with both sides of the argument when creating my work. Creative work must certainly at times have an under lying meaning, in both personal work and for a client. Personal work firstly is a part of you and automatically a brilliant platform to showcase that; a part of you, your thoughts, feelings, opinions. Work for a client especially demands you to use your ability of portraying an idea in the form of your illustrative style, whether it be for a book cover, a cd cover or an editorial piece, more often than not you are asked to portray some form of idea, and it is almost more often than not, the idea which begins to make the piece more successful.
Now on the other hand, in my opinion, the whole point of being a creative person and then choosing to make visual communications of some sort, to portray an idea, or just something, creatively, is that you are able to do so in a way that looks attractive. No matter how good the idea is, if you aren't able to communicate it in a way which looks attractive, it will not be successful. There have been many times in my own work where I have had a great idea, but for various reasons, lack of time, motivation, etc. I have not had the energy to produce the nicest looking piece of work, which means overall the work is not successful, and sometimes means you can't even understand the idea I was trying to illustrate.
I think essentially to be a successful illustrator, designer, surface designer or creative of any form there has to be a good mixture of the two. It has the potential to become boring if your work simply never has any meaning ever, in a way of that it can lack connection, if its always just pretty pictures it can become empty. However, in the same sense, work with opinions, and throwing social comments into your work, has the potential to become boring and tedious too, sometimes I find myself looking at some peoples work and thinking 'okay, we get it, you've got an opinion'.
I believe that sometimes people do just draw, for example, a cat, simply because they like to draw cats, the way in which I draw sailors, because I like how sailors look, yes there can be meaning behind it but sometimes it simply is because I think it looks nice. People are always going to put meaning behind your work whether or not you have, however, simply having meaning behind your work does not make it successful, and it is important when approaching the idea of meaning behind your work that you steer away from becoming pretentious.
Personally if I saw something which was designed or illustrated badly or un inspiringly, I wouldn't take a second look at it to find out the meaning behind it, whereas is something looks beautiful, sometimes it does not need meaning behind it for it to inspire you. While it is important to make sure your work sometimes features some sort of meaning, whether it be a fun, playful idea, or something deep and meaningful, I think it is important to remember you are creating something visually, so for it to look attractive really needs to be most certainly equally (if not in some cases more) important.