Creative workers often experience identity tensions. On the one hand, ‘creatives’ desire to see themselves as distinctive in their artistry, passion, and self-expression, nurturing an identity that energizes their innovative efforts. Yet daily pressures to meet budgets, deadlines and market demands encourage a more business-like identity that supports firm performance. Through a comparative case study of New Product Design (NPD) consultancies, we explicate the potential management of such identity tensions. Case evidence illustrates overarching, paradoxical approaches to identity regulation as the firms emphasized both differentiation and integration strategies. Differentiation practices promoted disparate identities by segregating related roles in time and space, while integration efforts encouraged a more synergistic meta-identity as ‘practical artists’. Leveraging paradox literature, we discuss how these strategies may accommodate creative workers’ needs to cope with multiple identities, as well as their aversion to sanctioned subjectivities.