Artists in Corporate Need a Selfish Creative Outlet

Here’s how to stay sane as an artist in corporate

Ash P.
4 min readJan 26, 2023
Photo by Sean Pollock on Unsplash

Marketing needs a line of copy. It takes me two hours of drafting and rewording to come up with it. It’s creative, aligned with business goals, and addresses the target audience. I send it over.

The person who needed the copy sees it and gives their feedback. I make edits, then send it back. Their manager sees it and gives their feedback. I make edits, then send it back. The one above them sees it and gives their feedback. I make edits, and back it goes.

If the project is big enough, the CMO and CEO might see it, and they will definitely have feedback. Got it. Edit. Here you go. By the time it’s all said and done, the line of copy will have strayed so far from its original form that I’m left wondering if I even wrote it. Did I?

Of course, I eventually come down from my frustration and realize that it’s never personal. The reality is that, in a corporate environment, the most creative piece of work isn’t always going to go live. In fact, the safest option is more likely the one people will end up seeing.

More than that, I realize that there’s context to consider. My creative work isn’t at its best just because I’m happy with it. Even if it was, it doesn’t mean my leads are obligated to use it. Besides, I’m not an omnipresent figure in the company. There’s a lot I don’t know about why certain decisions are made.

Still, being a creative person in a corporate environment can be frustrating, especially when you have little control over what work you do, what edits are made, and what goes live.

If you’re like me, you’re probably working in corporate as a creative because it was the perfect compromise between the obligation to have a job and the need to be creative. Except now you’re realizing that there’s little to no creative control and your work isn’t really yours when you’re making it for someone else. And now you’re frustrated.

So, what do you do? Should you even do anything?

In an ideal world, you would just quit your job and find highly profitable gig that gives you all the creative control in the world and still leaves you with heaps of time to rest. We do not live in that world. In fact, quitting a job to find something fulfilling is a luxury that very few can afford.

It’s 2023. Thousands of people are getting laid off. The cost of living is only getting higher. The planet is burning. Add to that the responsibilities and problems that come with your daily life. Is your unfulfilled creative spirit really the biggest problem you need to solve right now?

Maybe not. But you deserve to feel good in at least one area of your life.

Thus, the selfish creative outlet.

A selfish creative outlet is a creative project that you work on solely for yourself. You might post it online for others to see, but you’re not trying to please anyone’s creative vision, except yours. You’re not trying to get followers, fans, or income off your project. Your only goal is to create things you like whenever you want.

It’s that simple.

My selfish creative outlet is a blog about books. It’s live and findable, but I do the bare minimum to market it. I’ve never thought about my target audience or key demographics. I haven’t done keyword research or optimized my content for SEO purposes.


Because not everything I do needs to have a productivity-related or income-related purpose. More than that, I’m aware that the moment I turn this project into a side hustle, it’ll stop being fun. It’ll stop fulfilling that part of me that wants complete creative freedom. That’s not the point of this.


Working as a creative or artist in a corporate environment can be a great way to exercise your creative muscle while keeping food on the table. Unfortunately, your work isn’t truly yours, and you’ll likely find yourself frustrated with peers and managers who hold the creative control you want so badly.

Unless you have the resources to quit your job, this is a problem you’ll continue to face. The best way to nurture your creative spirit? Find a selfish creative outlet. Develop a creative project that is solely for you, no one else.

No matter what kind of artist you are, there are different ways you can ease your creative spirit and work on things that truly matter to you. And whatever your selfish creative outlet looks like, make sure you keep it selfish. Don’t monetize it, otherwise you’ll depend on what others want to pay for and lose creative control over your work—again!