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Q. What is an ambigram?
A. It's a typographic or calligraphic design, word, or arrangement of letters that can be read from more than one direction or orientation.
Ambigrams come in many forms. The most common ambigrams are symmetrical, and include rotational (upside-down), bilateral (viewed in a mirror or from behind), chain (continuous words, such as in a circle or a spiral), and totem (vertical and mirror-image symmetry). Less common are asymmetrical ambigrams, which have more complicated characteristics.
You can see ambigrams on book covers, movie titles, logos, album covers, tattoos, jewelry, and motion graphics. Some are very legible, while others are more decorative in nature.
The work of John Langdon. On the left, the cover of the first edition of Angels & Demons, by Dan Brown. The ambigram on the right (Ann & John) was done for friends.
Langdon did this ambigram on spec for the city of Philadelphia in 2000.
More by John Langdon.
This ambigram was designed by Mark Simonson for a tattoo. Simonson says, “Ambigrams are partly luck, partly skill. I feel lucky it turned out as well as it did. I hate to think of someone permanently dyeing their skin with a design that didn’t quite work.”
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