Professional design should always answer questions and solve problems. Design lacking a problem-solving objective should be considered art.
As an artist, I believe any true creative should constantly produce great works of art in order to balance all of the logos and responsive website designs. Art, in the abstract, propels us to explore the outer reaches of our own creativity so that we can present new answers to unasked questions and problems—if only to ourselves. This is how we train to work smarter in the future.
When I began my Anonymous Invisible project in 2015, I didn't set out to answer a question or solve a problem. I just started shooting with my camera. I developed an entirely new proprietary photographic technique. Over the last two years, this art project has helped propel my design and creative consulting work to new heights, providing answers to questions I'd yet to ask.
Whether I'm meeting with clients, my creative team, or talking about new products, I try to determine what problem actually needs solving. Often the answer lies somewhere between what is said and what they think needs to be a done. Even in a job posting, what a company may be seeking in their ideal candidate is "this, this and this." But, what they're not telling you is their actual problem. The right solution requires the right questions.
Creative thinkers are able to listen, observe, empathize, and read between the lines to get right at the crux of the problem in order to find the solution. Listening is a skill not everyone possesses. Empathy is a quality which grows out of a sense of integrity, openness and diverse experiences in the world. A true creative is an artist who listens, observes, and empathizes with her subject. A great designer takes and applies those qualities to solving a company's problems, and perhaps even answer questions they didn't know they should be asking. This is the very essence of design thinking.
Create art. Solve problems. Tell stories. Save the world.