I have been interested in ambigrams for about a year now. In fact, I finished my first ambigram design at about 3 AM last night (which I am hoping to turn into a stencil for glass etching…but that is a whole other story).
But, since the word ‘ambigram’ rarely appears in dictionaries, I must first answer this question: What is an ambigram?
According to Ambigram Magazine:
An ambigram is a word that, when turned, mirrored or displayed in any direction reveals another word. The second word (which you see by changing the orientation of the original) can be the same word or completely unrelated.
Scott Kim (who is a graphic & puzzle designer out of California) published an article in Omni magazine in 1979, which showcased a number of ambigrams. He referred to them as ‘inversions.’ The term ‘ambigram’ was coined by Douglas Hofstadter, who is an American academic known for his book, Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, which focuses on cognition, thinking and perception.
Most recently, ambigram recognition and awareness has been given a boost by John Langdon, who is an ambigram artist and graphic designer. He created a set of amazing ambigrams for Dan Brown’s book Angels & Demons. Those ambigrams, as well as Langdon’s book Wordplay (1 & 2!), were my original inspiration for learning about ambigrams and starting to create them on my own. Now that you have a short background on ambigrams…
Still unclear? Here are some examples:
(Picture C/O Wikipedia Commons and credited to: Punya MIshra)
(Picture C/O Wikipedia Commons submitted by Douglas Hofstadter)
The first is a rotational ambigram of the word ‘ambigram’. The second is a perceptual shift style where the phrase reads simultaneously ‘Light is a Particle/Wave’.
Several other well-known ambigrams have been collected here.
The growth of ambigrams in the public awareness has been influenced by the introduction of two online ambigram generators*:
- Ambigram-matic: A free ambigram-creation engine.
- Glyphusion Ambigram Generator: Not free, but it generally gives a much more refined and readable result.
Interest in ambigrams in a number of applications (from gifts to tattoos) is on the rise. Glyphusion has licensed their generator for use as/on Tattoos (wowtattoo.com), Jewelery (Cascadia Design Studio), Laser Engraving (Precision Artistry), and Custom Gifts (Flipscript Ambigram Products & A Gift Personalized).
Expect ambigrams, particularly in tattoo form, to be very popular following last month’s theatrical release of “Angels and Demons” where several ambigram tattoos are featured. In addition, a recently released iPhone application called iAmbigram can be purchased for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
Top Choice for shoe lovers wanting to get in on this trend?
For the more adventurous, tattoo flash for a more permanent commitment can be purchased here.
(Design process is trademarked by Glyphusion and are licensed to sellers as noted above, please visit these retailers to purchase products or tattoo designs. If you are interested in licensing the Glyphusion engine for resale purposes, please contact them here.)
Oh, and what happens when I entered ‘Shoeblog’ into these two ambigram engines?
Glyphusion: “No Solution is Possible for this Word.” Bummer.
Hmm. Not exactly elegant. Oh well.
Well, neither of those results are working for me . So what’s a girl to do? Apparently, come to a dead stop in the middle of what she is typing & try her own hand at this. Two hours later, here is my result:
What do you think?
I now wonder how many other shoe-themed words and phrases might successfully be made into attractive ambigrams.
If you would like to try your hand at making an ambigram yourself (sans computer assistance) all you will need it some paper and a lot of patience.