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Ambigrams Galore

6:22 pm PHT

I’m sure most of the readers have read Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons. The novel prominently featured several ambigrams in its story. And those ambigrams were really beautiful. They were commissioned by Brown from John Langdon, a freelance graphic artist that specializes in creating ambigrams, logotypes, and paintings that feature words. It should be mentioned that the character Robert Langdon was probably named after John Langdon. (Remember that Angels & Demons was the first Robert Langdon novel, not The Da Vinci Code).

Anyway, I was excited to stumble upon the website of John Langdon, Wordplay. “Wordplay” is an apt term for the art he’s creating and the Wordplay logo itself is an ambigram. His name, John Langdon, is also shown as an ambigram.

While Brown’s novel defines ambigrams as depiction of words that read the same right-side up or upside down, Langdon says that ambigrams are more generally “words that can be read equally well from more than one point of view.” And one of his beautiful asymmetrical ambigrams shows the word “TRUE” right-side up and “FALSE” upside down.

Douglas Hofstadter was the person who coined the term “ambigram.” He describes ambigrams as “calligraphic design that manages to squeeze two different readings into the selfsame set of curves.”

I have been frustratingly trying to come up with an ambigram of my own name last year. Nothing I can come up with looks readable or even pretty. But upon seeing his site, I was inspired to try again. I might probably go for the asymmetrical version since my symmetrical attempts were plainly begging for the trash bin.

Scott Kim, another abigram artist (though he calls them “inversions”) has a site filled with ambigrams too. You can also look at the Wikipedia article on ambigram.

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