Women In Design feat. Deanna Bains

Meet Deanna Bains, a Senior Designer & Illustrator at IRIS Worldwide, London. She’s navigated diverse design avenues, from branding studios to advertising, fostering talent and leading the illustration team. Here she shares 5 stand out lessons and her thoughts on role models.

Could you please introduce yourself as well as your background?

I’m Deanna, a Senior Designer and Illustrator working at IRIS Worldwide in London.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Design in Canada, and since then have explored quite a few different avenues in design, from in-house to small branding studios, and am now working in advertising. I’ve always been keen to remain a multi-disciplinary designer, as to keep myself challenged and on a wide variety of briefs.

I’ve been at IRIS for just over 2 years, and have really found my place there in leading our illustration team, and working towards fostering new talent via our internship program to ensure we’re striving for a more diverse and inclusive creative industry.

As well as working at IRIS, I freelance, and have the privilege to work with clients that are out there making positive change and align closely to my own personal values, such as the NHS Health & Race Observatory, Penguin Publishing, Global Goals and Book Aid International.

What are 5 “stand-out things” you’ve learned that you’d like to pass on to your peers as well as the future generation of talent within your sector?

Be your authentic self

It’s cliché, I know, but I fully believe in it. I spent years trying to mould myself into someone else just to fit in. I’m not sure where that internal pressure to conform came from, but once I stopped, so did the mediocre work and projects. Embracing your differences and bringing your individual opinions to the table will be where you discover your best work and create room for your unique perspective that people want you in the room for. Trust your gut, and trust yourself.

Use your voice

This ties into the first point. It can be daunting to seem like the squeaky wheel in the room, but I’ve learnt there’s no use in biting your tongue, people will either listen to you or they won’t. But if you’re actively challenging, engaging and participating in the conversations around you, you’re already giving things more consideration than just being complacent. Your voice can create conversations and ignite progress. There is absolutely value in what you have to say.

Stay Inspired

It’s really easy to fall into patterns, or stick to the same old mood boards you may have created online, but there’s a lot of inspiration that can be found off the screen. I would highly recommend walking away from the laptop and finding inspiration away from the internet. It’ll completely change what you bring into your work and give you fresh ideas.

Passion Projects

Taking the time outside of your day job to work on something you like (doesn’t have to be related to your field of work), will keep you sane. It’s as simple as that. Have passions that exist away from your day to day.

Know your worth

This isn’t always an easy industry to be in, it’s competitive and saturated with talent. It’s even easier to forget your worth, but you’re in the room for a reason. Know your strengths, know when to listen, and most importantly when to respect yourself and walk away.

What is your take on the importance of role models?

Truthfully, I can’t say I’ve had an individual ‘role-model’, but there are aspects that I have taken from different peers that have shaped who I am as a designer.

There are people I admire for their insane craft and grit, and the fact that they never settle for less. There are peers who are willing to have open conversations about our industry, and don’t bother beating around the bush. There are individuals who have championed my own progression and encouraged my growth. It’s important to surround yourself with people you can learn from, and I’d say the best ‘role-model’ is an amalgamation of qualities that mean something to you and shape who you want to be as a designer.

If you’re inspired by the stories and wisdom shared in our ‘Women In Design’ series and would like to contribute your own experiences, we’d love to hear from you. Creatives at all levels, please email Olivia and your story could be the next we feature.
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