Kiara dos Reis is currently a first-year student studying Graphic Design at the Greenside Design Center in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has a profound interest in every facet of design, and thoroughly enjoys exploring a multitude of styles and practices to work towards unique design solutions.

“Right now, everything is very hectic and heavy for humanity.”

TPP45S Of the forty-five visuals you created, which is your favorite? Why?

KIARA DOS REIS My favorite was maybe the letter r—either the stuttering version or the “regular” one. I just had so much fun with it and looking at the way the tongue, in particular, was shaped [when saying the sound] and I think it came out really nice.

r [5 of 45]
rr~ [6 of 45]

TPP45S What does the tongue shape like when we make an “r” sound?

KIARA DOS REIS It curls behind the teeth and doesn’t touch anything—and then you say the sound.

TPP45S What was your initial response looking at the Phaistos Disc?

KIARA DOS REIS After diving into research and the history behind it I thought it was crazy interesting. I remember when looking at a[n] [online] server [about the Phaistos Disc], there were a lot of people saying different things about it like, “It could be a poem. It could be a warning. It could be a curse.” So it still has all that meaning even if we don’t know what it means—it [the Phaistos Disc] could be nothing, but we put that meaning into it. That really drove my decisions for a lot of [how the project’s] symbols themselves [functioned].

TPP45S Why do you think an artifact from the past could be relevant to you and your creative practice? 

KIARA DOS REIS We have to learn from the past to be able to learn the skills we use today. Like when you look at the Phaistos Disc. If we did know what the symbols meant we would make connections that could help us today. So I wanted to make something that was similar, like when you look at it [my project] and you kind of think, Oh, what is this? And then you read the description and everything makes sense. It’s all about that moment of connection.

TPP45S What do you mean by that? Connections?

KIARA DOS REIS So I showed the symbols to a few of my friends and some other people, and when I asked them, “Okay, what do you think this is?” they all were like, “Girl, let’s be real, I have no idea what I’m looking at.” Then I showed them the description, and they went, “Oh, wow!” and they had a lot of fun with it—they started slurring the sounds and all that. So I just wanted to foster connection between the symbols themselves, their actual meaning, and that general idea of what a symbol is supposed to be.

TPP45S Your project St-uh-teh-rrr utilizes neurographics to show what a human mouth looks like when it stutters. You noted in your artist statement that neurographics were created specifically to soothe those with anxiety and other mental disorders. Why did you want St-uh-teh-rrr to have soothing imagery?

KIARA DOS REIS I actually came up with the idea for the set of symbols after I watched a TikTok of a girl with a stutter. She was simply ordering a drive-thru—she was getting McDonald’s or something—and she was having a full blown panic attack because she had social anxiety from the stutter. After I watched it, I thought, “Oh my gosh, people need to know about this.” It [stuttering] is not something that we are really aware of. I thought intertwining the two [neurographics and stuttering] would raise awareness of stuttering through the social anxiety that’s often connected to it.

Dos Reis’s sketches for the visuals of St-uh-teh-rrr‘s symbols.

TPP45S What does your project tell audiences of today and tomorrow about our current anthropocene and human impact on our planet?

KIARA DOS REIS I think my intention behind it is—no, not I think—I know, my intention was to display that people today are not as mentally well as we were in the past. Everything really gets to us. Like social anxiety. That’s a big issue right now in school and work and just about any other setting you can imagine. It’s just—it’s all so much. Right now, everything is very hectic and heavy for humanity.

TPP45S A lot of research on phonetics and human anatomy went into this project. What was one of the most interesting aspects you learned about how humans talk?

KIARA DOS REIS The way we don’t really think about it [talking] that deeply, but there’s actually so much that’s going on when you say things—from the depths of your breath, your diaphragm, and your vocal cords vibrating to where your tongue is flicking, how your lips move, and how they touch your teeth. It’s so mind blowing how everything is this perfect orchestra that works together.

The development of the edges of St-uh-teh-rrr‘s symbols.

TPP45S Human anatomy has been utilized in design throughout history. How do you think human anatomy will continue to inspire designers in the future? Do you think that artists are going to start connecting anatomy to humans themselves when they think about designing instead of treating a person’s personality and a person’s anatomy as separate?

KIARA DOS REIS I think people in the future will definitely make a connection between those things. Because people—our mind and our physical body are one in the same.

TPP45S What do you believe are the biggest challenges of this upcoming generation of visual artists/designers?

KIARA DOS REIS I think, in general, for my generation—I know a lot of employers nowadays, they want experience, but due to COVID we didn’t really have time to go out and get that said experience. For example, I don’t know if it’s a thing in the US, but in South Africa, when you get towards the end of high school, you often go and shadow people who are already in certain industries, and you gain a little bit of experience just like an internship. And with COVID, I didn’t get to do that. That same experience, I’m sure, has spread through to the rest of the world. And even though you can currently work from home design is a very practical thing. You really need to learn hands on from those who came before. So that lack of experience is really affecting us.

TPP45S Do you have any advice for emerging designers on how to overcome this challenge?

KIARA DOS REIS Have an open mind. If you look for something—if you search real hard, I’m sure you can find it. Like—what’s the name? Paula Scher. Paula Scher released a BBC Maestro course recently that I’ve had my eye on. To learn from her would be so great. I think it’s still possible nowadays, but you have to go out there and find the experience you want.

TPP45S The humans who created the Phaistos Disc—if it’s not a hoax—will never be able to tell us what its forty-five symbols mean. But you are here with us today, to talk about your own set of forty-five symbols. What is it that you hope people take away from your project?

KIARA DOS REIS If at the end of the day, people have more awareness about the anxiety that comes with stuttering and speech impediments, then I think I won a small battle. And like I said earlier—just the overarching topic of social anxiety and being understanding for the people who are struggling with anxiety and mental disorders, [if i raise awareness for that] then I think I’d be satisfied.

Kiara dos Reis
Kiara dos Reis is currently a first-year student studying Graphic Design at the Greenside Design Center in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has a profound interest in every facet of design, and thoroughly enjoys exploring a multitude of styles and practices to work towards unique design solutions.

Special Mention Open Call 22/23