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For Typography Lovers

What is an ambigram? The word comes from the latin “ambi”, which means around or both. The prefix is used for words like, ambidextrous, and, ambiversion.  The greek suffix, “gram”, which means drawing or carving, is used in words like, diagram, and, histogram. Basically, an ambigram is a typographical design where a word can be read the same from multiple directional viewpoints.

You have to be a very skilled artist to successfully pull off a design like this. One such person is John Langdon, whose skills were put to use for the best-selling novel,Angels and Demons”. Part of the novel is about a secret society called The Illuminati which used 4 iron brands to burn the elements, Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, into the chests of their kidnapped victims. While the story is violent and gruesome, the designs for these words are quite elegant and beautiful. 

Whether you read the words right-side up or upside down, they still say the same thing. Take a look yourself:

ambigrams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It takes a very keen eye to be able to see how to design the letterforms just right so they form another letter upside down. Not all ambigrams are this intricate. Some are quite simple. Like this one:

chump

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Regardless of the degree of intricacy, I find ambigrams fascinating. Ambigrams are a fabulous example of how design IS art!

2 Comments

  1. laurenguiffre wrote:

    This is very cool. I remember these from when I was reading “Angels and Demons.” The “chump” one below it is not as intricate, but still very amusing.

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 7:33 am | Permalink
  2. Natalie Andrews wrote:

    These are cool, but way overdone especially as tattoos. I know at least eight people who have the “life/death” ambigram tattoo and at least three who have the “Earth/air/fire/water” tattoo. I do agree though that whoever can come up with designs like these is a really clever person.

    Monday, December 14, 2009 at 5:36 pm | Permalink