Socially Relevant - It's not for everyone, but a socially relevant subject is essential to my creative process. For me, there's something empty about creating art for the sake of creating...believe me, I do it. I used to do it all the time. I used to love it...but now, I get impassioned, interested, invested, and concerned when I have a narrative I'm trying to convey.
Outside of my own comfort, I also think it helps to draw in the viewer. While I have definitely realized the challenge with having a specific narrative (namely, the viewer has to put in an effort to get what you're saying, sometimes the message is hard to find and requiring that effort can dissuade less motivated viewers) I also think it gives people something more to think about than "it's pretty" or "Awesome!"...while the subject might not be easy, I think it creates much more of a real connection when that dialogue takes place. Furthermore, that dialogue...that effort...that ability to read artwork, I believe, is an integral part of creating a successful and sustainable art community.
Conceptually Progressive - On top of having a socially relevant message, I hope that that message is progressive and not a simple reprint of a news story. Instead of simply presenting an issue, I work to create a new way of approaching that, understanding it, or moving forward. I want my work to express a relatable issue in a way no one has yet presented it...in a way that opens new avenues of understanding....in a way that advances our ability to interact and react to the world around us in a pro-active manner.
Culturally Significant - This one is a little tougher, because It's not to say I want each piece to be culturally significant in its own right...but more the overall goal of the work should be reaching toward a greater purpose. Ultimately, I want my work to introduce the viewer to reading a piece...to help them learn how to understand artwork without needing to read a statement or talk directly with an artist. I want the viewer, the general public, to be comfortable around artwork, comfortable with their opinions, and confident in their own abilities. Only then will we really have a dialogue between artist and viewer...and only then do you get a genuine reaction to a piece. I'm not that interested in having a bunch of people who blindly agree with everything my work seeks to say, even thought that's probably an easier goal...I want the work I produce to, in some way, contribute to a better cultural integration...a better interaction between art and the rest of the population.
It would be great to be a wildly successful artist, but if we leave 99.9% of the public behind, what purpose are we really serving? How are we any different than any other luxury brand?