Today my attention was called to the drawings of Henry Dreyfuss, an American industrial designer (1904-1972) who designed many commercial and consumer products in the '30s through the '60s. I found lots of info about him online and became pleasantly lost in image after image of his drawings. I'm guessing they were not intended as stand-alone illustrations or fine art in any sense, but I can tell they are much admired today, and I naturally find them very familiar and appealing.
Some of my paintings are straightforward enough in their depiction of a single object or group of objects, as to have more in common with an illustration of a product than to convey a meaning or concept. If I could still find a job illustrating objects, with room for a bit of simplification or exaggeration, I might be okay yet. I wonder if it is becoming less important that I try to convey the 'why' (motivation, story, feelings) behind my choice of subject.