Visual Wordplay

I often describe ambigrams as a form of visual wordplay. I think it is a fair description – but it also implies that there are other forms of visual wordplay. As a treat to welcome in the new year, I’ve compiled a list of designs that I’m sure all you ambigram fans will also be impressed by!

Ampersand AND
Ampersand by Jennet Liaw jennetliaw.com

I suppose this could be considered an ambigram in some sense, although it is less subtle. Rather than hide two words in one image, it tries to show us both at once. If you couldn’t see, hidden within the ampersand is the word ‘and’. Clever!

Question mark Exclamation mark shadow illusion
Question mark by Kumiya Mashita kumiyamashita.com

This image shows an exclamation mark which is casting a shadow in the shape of a question mark. In order to see the illusion you have to be looking from the right angle, but it is still very cool!

Java logo
Java logo

In the last 3 years, I’ve been studying computer science at Bristol university. In my first year, I lived on a hill in the city centre called park street, and I was always intrigued by the logo of this night club. I’ve never been inside – it looks pretty terrible – but the logo reads ‘Java’, using the same glyph for each letter! The V is an upside down A, and the J is just the same symbol turned on its side.

London Sperm Bank logo
London Sperm Bank logo

I saw this in an advert on the tube yesterday. If you don’t get it, come back when you’re over 18!

And to conclude this list, here is a very visual and simple illusion – try to figure out how it was done!

As pointed out by somebody in the comments, this ‘Film’ design was created by Lubor Fielder – a magician who specialised in very visual, clever and charming magic tricks. Unfortunately he died in 2014, but I recommend typing his name into youtube to see what other crazy effects he has made!

If you know of any other examples of visual wordplay, send me a message, and I will include them in a new post.

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Ambigram inspiration

Being such a small art form, it can be difficult to find ambigram designs which inspire you with new ideas you haven’t seen before. You’ve probably at some point typed ‘COOL AMBIGRAMZ’ into Google and found buzzfeed-style articles which list 20 designs you’ve already seen countless times.

This article is going to be something like that, but instead of being aimed at the average Joe, it is targeted towards people who already know the basics of ambigram design and are after clever and novel solutions.

Shoe Patta Ambigram

patta shoe ambigram
Shoe/Patta ambigram by Niels Shoe Meulman nielsshoemeulman.com

 

The ambigram above shows ‘shoe’ in one orientation and ‘patta’ (an Italian word for shoe) in the other. Having seen many ambigrams in my time, it isn’t too often that I come across a solution I’ve never seen before. This design has two – the S/A and E/P. I can really appreciate the E/P since there are no wasted strokes; in both orientations, if any stroke were removed, it wouldn’t read as the same letter. This efficiency keeps it simple and more elegant!

EP mbigram
Typical E/P solution

Comparing this to a more standard E/P solution, you can see how many more unnecessary parts there are.

Conquer the Labyrinth ambigram
Conquer the Labyrinth ambigram designed by Jeremy Goode for Xmatrix.co.uk

What makes this design great is its consistency – the artist has got away with the big gap separating the 2 parts of the ‘Y’ because his stylistic choices in the other letters make it acceptable. He could have got away with closing the gap between the L and the A to make the H more legible, but I feel it would detract from the design as a whole.

Typophile Ambigram
Typophile ambigram by Mark Simonson marksimonson.com

This is another piece that owes its greatness to consistency. The OPH/OPH in the middle is a very bold design choice. Separating the O from the P might initially seem like a bad idea, as it would make the H harder to read – but here it works well, and allows for the P to be written in a more stylistic fashion while still being legible. You might also notice that there are 2 P’s in this word, and both are written in a very similar fashion, despite the fact that they both need to become something different when inverted.

Amelie ambigram
Amelie ambigram by Brett Gilbert 55cards.com

This is another design where few strokes go to waste. The bouncy cursive aesthetic makes the loop in the M appropriate, and the final E is written in such a way that it mirrors the first E, while also providing the crossbar in the A. This is an example of an ambigram where the writing style has been chosen well to keep the solution as clean as possible.

Sins ambigram
Sins ambigram by Mark Simonson marksimonson.com

Ok, so this is a very simple word – I’m sure most people reading this would easily be able to create a very legible ambigram using this word. But what I love about this approach is how the dot on the I is incorporated into a flourish on the S – giving it more of a reason to be there in its upturned orientation.

Ambigr.am ambigram
Ambigr.am ambigram by Kai Hammond ambigr.am

And finally, why not finish with the logo of this very site? Ambigrams as logos are not usually a good idea – they are often less legible than a standard font. But I’m sure you’d agree, there’s no way a magazine about ambigrams could get away with not having an ambigram logo! Again, with this one, I have tried to minimise unnecessary strokes. The crossbar of the A becomes an underline, the terminal of the R joins the B and I in a cursive manner, and the dot on the I becomes the dot in the URL: Ambigr.am.

Also, I made the design asymmetric in an attempt to make it subtly more legible in its normal orientation.

If you have know of any other creative designs, send me a message and I might include them in a future post! I’ll be doing articles like this regularly.

 

Ambigram Tournament – Round 1!

Hello ambigrammers.

This is the first post of the new website – and I’m going to start it all off with a very exciting proposal!

I will be hosting a tournament of ambigram design. Since the new Star Wars film is being released tomorrow here in the UK, the theme will be space. All you need to do is choose a good space-related word, and submit an ambigram of that word/words. Any kind of ambigram will do – rotational, reflective etc…

So rack your brains for any cosmic words – maybe try your favourite planet in our solar system, or the name of our own galaxy – the possibilities are endless!

In a month’s time, I will choose a winner, plus some runners up – however many I feel deserve it. All the submissions will be posted to a gallery here, and the winner will receive a custom-made handwritten certificate in the post!

Untitled

Above is a scanned image of the certificate, which I just finished a couple of minutes ago – what a spectacular prize! Just think about when your friends come over and see this sitting above the piano – they won’t believe how privileged they are to be friends with someone so awesome.

The competition will close on the 17th of January 2016. There is no limit to the number of entries per person, and I will accept any type of ambigram entry – from more traditional reflective and rotational designs to figure/ground and tessellation designs.

Simply email your submissions to: kai@ambigr.am

Please remember to put ‘Ambigram tournament submission’ in the subject box of the email. On the 17th January, I will choose the most amazing ambigram from all of the tournaments, and they will win a very special prize!

Now put on your space suit and blast off – it’s time to get scribbling!

Yours sincerelery,

Kai