the Art of Ambigram

“An ambigram is a typographical design or artform that may be read as one or more words not only in its form as presented, but also from another viewpoint, direction, or orientation.” This is what wikipedia says about ambigrams.

So, ambigrams are words that could be read from different angels or views, for example in a mirror or turned upside-down. The first known ambigram is from 1893, made by the illustrator Peter Newel. He created a book for children and on the last page of the book he turned the typography-world upside-down.  This page contains the phrase THE END and when you turned the book about 180° it reads PUZZLE. Crazy! The world stood still and a new artform was born – the ambigram.

Ambigrams from the Strand (1908)

The Strand published a series of ambigrams in 1908 by different people in its “Curiosities” column.

In the late 1960s some artists, like Scott Kim, John Langdon or Raymond Loewy reinvented this artform. Loewy created a timeless ambigram logo for DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) in 1969 that maybe some of you already know.

In 1976 Robert Petrick created an ambigram-logo for the band ANGEL. And within the next years a group of artists came up with the term ambigram for this artform. Until that day there was no official name for this typographical field.

Ambigrams by John Langdon for Angels & Demons

Ambigrams became really popular after the release of Dan Browns bestselling book Angels & Demons.  Brown contacted John Langdon after his father showed him some ambigrams Langdon did. The result were some awesome (!!!) ambigram designs of the words Angels & Demons, Illuminati and the four elements fire, water, air and earth. This work brought the art of ambigram back into the spotlight.

From that day on all over the world people started to recognize the beauty and power of ambigrams. They fit into a lot of topics, from philosophy and mathmatics to mystics and design.

We will be back with more infos, so … stay tuned.

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