This month’s competition theme is ‘Your Childhood’. So think about what you loved when you were a child – maybe a television show or a nostalgic rock band, or a culture you were involved with. Obviously this one is very subjective so there should be a lot of variety.
Email your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org before the 16th July
Hello! Thanks for all the entries – not only was the artwork great, but there were lots of nice philosophical ideas to contemplate, so thank you!
I have spent a long time deciding on a winner – so many good entries! But I have finally settled on this design by Otto Kronstedt
If this competition was based purely on ambitiousness and geniusness, this would win by a mile. If you hadn’t noticed, it’s a reimagining of arguably the most famous set of ambigrams – John Langdon’s elements. However Otto has managed to get all 4 words into one design which can be both rotated and mirrored.
Unfortunately however I am having a difficult time reading the R’s in both Air and Fire. I think the R in Air can be made more legible without affecting the other words too much:
However I have no idea what to do with the R in Fire. I’ll leave that up to the genius of Otto Kronstedt!
I can fully appreciate how difficult this must have been to design, and how much work was put into it. And at the end of the day, I think it would be impossible to try something this ambitious and to have it perfectly legible, so in this case I don’t think the legibility is much of an issue. The fact that it has been designed, and that the words can be deciphered if you look for them, is enough!
I very nearly selected this as the winner, so I decided to honourably mention it. It’s just a very well polished very readable solid ambigram design, and I know Diego must have spent a long time tweaking it to perfection. I almost want it as a tattoo!
And in no particular order (it’s actually alphabetical by the first name), here are the other entries:
Really enjoyed this one. ‘Philosophy Ambigram’. It is self referential, it is self aware, and it is beautifully post-modern – the perfect entry for such a theme!
Wonderful entry – very easy to read and some great ideas in the letter forms. Well done Dhaval!
This one is very impressive – it’s a bi-lingual, bi-scriptual perception shift ambigram design, of the name of an ancient Indian philosopher. Unfortunately I cannot read Devanagari, but Dhaval also sent me a useful image to help you see the other script hidden in this design:
Again – really good work, and very impressive to work with two different scripts!
I really love this one! The funky colours and curly text gives a very psychedelic 70s feel – very fitting as the words written could easily have come out of the mouth of a new age spiritualist. Thanks for your entries!
“Imagined realities” is a concept I came across in the works of “yual noah Harari”. It’s a powerful concept, perhaps a little frightening too. For anyone wanting to know more, I would highly recommend a book called “sapiens – a brief history”.
There you go, look up the book if you want! Very nice design – I’ve never seen a G/L like that, and the ED/R must have been hard to pull off. Great stuff!
This one is very nice, and I love the added touch of the secret reversed quote on the bottom, as well as the reflected signatures in the bottom corners. The style works very well!
I just love this one – the style is really great and consistent! but the thing I love most is how Michael was able to put a space between the two words. Usually in ambigram design, it is not possible to put a space unless the point of rotation is in the middle of that space. But here, the lowercase r allows for a bit more room, and the space appears when inverted. Brilliant!
I bi-lingual ambigram of an English phrase with its Latin counterpart. In reference to Michael’s previous entry, this is how multiple words is usually done – with the first letter of each word being bigger and more distinct than the others. It’s always impressive when an ambigram is made of such a long phrase!
Above are the rest of Michael’s entries, which are all very legible, and include some lovely life messages. Thanks for the motivation!
One thing I constantly notice about Otto’s work are the creative solutions. Whereas the C/M is quite hard to read, every other glyph looks beautiful and approach the challenge in a unique way. I particularly like the G/S solution – very legible and very pretty!
An example of where the style of lettering is chosen to work as well as possible with the requirements of the ambigram. The L/I is a great example of this, as well as the R/O and the G/A. All of those elements work well because they are written in an italic script, and borrow elements from the letterforms in those scripts.
A nice touch to add the Golden colour – matches the sentiment of the text well!
Val has a very unique an minimalistic approach to letterforms. The M might be illegible in any other context, but here is it perfect. The CA/US is very clever in its simplicity and I love it! The only issue is that the C is higher than the other letters, which would be fine in other cases, but the style of the other letters is so well proportioned it looks odd. I would suggest something like this:
This way, the C being above the A makes sense in the context of the rest of the design. But it is your choice – well done!
Another example of Val’s unique approach to letter forms – the CA/EM here is amazing and I’ve never seen something similar. I think the standard approach to this glyph CA/EM would be something like this:
But it is refreshing to see a new solution! I think it is very legible and I wouldn’t change a thing.
This is a very interesting design, but I’m finding it hard to see the distinction that makes the C different from the E and the E different from the O. C/E is always a tricky one, so again I applaud the creativity!
Thanks for all of your entries, it was a pleasure. Until the next time!
Hello there everybody – lots of great entries this month! As well as some new names – welcome to the club!
My favourite entry and the winner of this month’s competition is as follows:
The winner is Questions/Answers by Michael Irving! I’m a bit confused as to why the ‘Answers’ is presented as a reflection of the ‘Questions’, since this is a rotational ambigram – but I just love the design so I decided to ignore that! The W is a letter I always have trouble with, but here it is expertly pulled off, all with a very clean but stylised look. Well done!
This is Beauty/Beast by Otto Kronstedt. I really love this design, and it would have come first, if it were not for the fact that the ‘Beast’ appeared to read ‘Beasty’. But it is a very impressive perceptual shift ambigram.
Otto also submitted this one – another very nice perceptual shift design. It reads ‘receive’, but if you look closely, you can see ‘give’ popping out. Amazing!
Michael Also submitted around another 20 designs! They are all good, but I wouldn’t want to drown out everybody else’s work with all of his, so above is a slideshow where you can go through them at your own leisure.
I really enjoyed this Friend/Enemy by Harold Kit Elvira. Very readable, and very pretty! I think the F/Y is genius, making part of that 4:3 letter ratio!
This piece by Dhaval Shah is very fun – the left column reading Angry, and the right reading Proud. The best part is the little faces showing the emotions in the middle!
Android/humanoid by Dhaval also incorporated images.
And here is Dhaval’s final entry – Gain/Loss.
John Langdon’s style is very well known at this point, and here is a perfect example of why he is so admired! A never ending ring of Finish/Start, with no finish, and no start of its own. Truly using the ambigram form as more than just a clever graphic.
I love the calligraphy style of this entry from Antonella from Italy! It reads Angelic/Diabolic and is mirror-reflective. The GE/BO in the middle is unlike anything I’ve ever seen – really cool!
Vida/Morte – the portuguese words for Life and Death, courtesy of Ruben Tinoco. The D/OR is very clever!
And finally, I’m very happy to announce this newcomer to the ambigram community – Val! This design above reads Drama’Comedy, and I love it! It reminds me a lot of the Aphex Twin logo – you could imagine an alien society writing in a language similar to this – very minimal and a very unique style!
Val also submitted this figure ground entry, of Head and Tail. I’ve tried this kind of ambigram a few times, but it has never come out very good. This one is great!
And finally – another entry from Val – High/Low. If i were to give some constructive criticism, it would be that with ambigrams you don’t have to follow the same conventions as normal lettering. It’s ok to have the stem of the first H go above the x-height, even if it means the W has an elongated stroke. And the second H could also have both strokes connected – if the stem for this letter didn’t touch the base-line, when rotated, it would look like a stylised serif on the L, making both letters more readable. But an excellent start to the ambigram art form – good luck with all your future endeavours, and I hope to see more work from you in other competitions!
Thanks for all the great entries, keep up the good work!
It has been a while, so why not have another little competition? Todays theme is the Duality. Make a symbiotogram of two words which exist in duality with one another. Day/Night, Love/Hate, On/Off – the options are limitless!
Any form of ambigram is accepted. Email them to me at email@example.com before 23rd April to enter!
I’m proud to announce this month’s winning entry – this Tesla ambigram by Harold Kit Elvira modelled on the Wardenclyffe tower which was designed and built by Nikola Tesla!
If there was one thing I would change – I don’t think the little serifs on the crossbar of the E are necessary, and it makes it look like a little H. But these things are just a matter of opinion, and I just love the concept so much!
A tessellating design is still something I need to successfully complete – they have not worked for me in the past. I think they would make great quilts/wallpaper/tiles! Here is a crazy 4-directional tessellating design by Alain Nicolas. I really like the S/TE solution.
Not happy with just 1, Alain also submitted this 2-directional tessellating design for the same word:
This Galileo design by Damian Lakey has a great consistent style – reminds me of the ‘Blade’ or ‘Resident Evil’ logos.
This entry for Isaac Newton/Newton’s apple was very impressive – but there’s always a problem with A/P solutions where the A ends up looking like a D. But I love the torn paper/scroll effect on the letters, and Damian has used these little torn flourishes to his advantage for example in the I/E solution.
When browsing websites like this before, there was always a comment on how difficult it was to judge the entries. Now that I am running my own competitions, I can completely sympathise. Each entry is just so unique and special in its own way, I find it so hard to decide on a winner!
If you didn’t win this time, do not worry – I probably spent a long time looking at your entry and ended up letting it slide for some arbitrary reason. If I judged these again next week, I would probably have chosen a different winner! The best you can do is keep submitting to each tournament and try your hardest!
Whew – sorry for the lack of updates. As university exams draw nearer, the stress is high and the free time is non-existent. However – I see no reason not to have another little tournament!
The theme for this one will be pioneers of science, Whether that be physics, engineering or computer science – it’s all up to you! As usual, there will be a certificate for the winner of the first prize. Email your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org before the 6th June, and I will judge them in the following week.
You may remember that the winning entry from our previous tournament read ‘Friday the 13th.’ This reminded me of the article I had written a while ago, which featured ambigrams where numbers were used as part of their design. Here is the second part to that article!
This design by Bastian Pinnenberg has many clever parts – the C/AR is quite insane, as is the 2/Y. Ambigram artists in general aren’t as used to working with numbers as they are with letters, so to create something as legible as that 2010 is quite impressive.
Here is a design I am very impressed by. You might remember from my last post on ambigram numbers that in the past, I have attempted an ambigram which uses a 2/3 glyph like in this design above. However, mine was nowhere near as clean as this one. An ambigram is very successful if you can look at it and forget that it is the same upside down. With this design, your brain fills in the blank spaces, and the result is a very clear and legible 23 – so clear that I find it difficult to believe it is an ambigram until I physically turn it over and witness the transformation for myself. It is like being introduced to the art form for the first time again!
This one is not so legible as the last, but I like it for the concept. If anyone reading this thinks they could do a better job at this than Mark Wallace, I would love to see your attempt.
For the final piece, here is a very clever design by Ty Wilkins. Not only is it an ambigram, but it uses negative space to create the N in the middle. The very lucky choice of letters and numbers means that this design is also highly legible as well as being simple.
You can expect another article on numbers in ambigrams soon – I have already collected a few more designs! If you know of any others, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
This tournament was slightly harder than the last two, as it required the ambigram to be deigned in a pre-determined style. If you have designed ambigrams before, you will know that this is not always easy – the manipulations required to make a certain ambigram work often dictate the styles it can be written in.
Nonetheless, I was still very impressed with the entries! First place goes to Damian Lakey for his version of Friday the 13th:
It’s just so easy to read! The h/y and a/e are a blessing wherever they occur, and the 13/d turned out really well. I also love the use of the border as part of the solution.
Damian actually submitted a total of 11 entries to this tournament! His other brilliant designs are listed below – just click on a thumbnail to view the image larger:
In no particular order, here are the other entries which I received:
Being my favourite horror film, I was very happy to see this design come up. I recognise with this style of text, because the letters are so narrow and spaced out, it is only possible to use 1:1 letter ratios. Dan was lucky that it kinda worked out in this case.
The Harry Potter logo uses such a distinctive style that it is very instantly recognisable, and this helps a lot with the readability of any Harry Potter ambigram I have seen. This is lucky, seeing as it contains very awkward letters!
There are a lot of funky things happening here and I appreciate them all! I notice that the T in Auto is exactly the same as the T in the original logo – no modifications needed to create the T/A solution. I also like how the final T in Theft revolves to create not only the G in Grand, but the first T in Theft – killing two birds with one stone!
This is a very brave attempt for 2 reasons: the lost logo is simply written in a sans serif font, which is probably the most uncompromising style to work with. Also, O/S is a difficult letter combination at the best of times – let alone when working with such a simple style.
X is a notoriously awkward letter to work with – unless it is paired up with another X. I appreciate Dan’s solution here – making things easier to handle with the X symmetrical in the background! Very nicely done.
All in all, another very successful tournament! Congratulations to Damian Lakey – you will be receiving your certificate in the post. Feel free to subscribe to posts if you want to be notified of the next tournament!
A while ago I made a post about ambigrams which function as more than just clever graphic design, and use the ambigram format to represent a metaphor.
Having been on the lookout since then for more designs which fit this description, here is another list.
Again, the first item is one designed by me, and is demonstrated in the YouTube video below.
It is a coin 3D printed in solid silver by shapeways.com. On one side it reads heads, and on the other it reads tails! I think there is a lot of potential for metaphors in ambigrams with reflective symmetry like this. If you didn’t realise, the ambigram is a metaphor for the coin.
This design by Mark Simonson is a case of an ambigram which has been shared around the internet so much that its fame has stretched beyond that of the ambigram community. I’ve had many people who discover I like ambigrams send this to me, as if they expect me to have not seen it before. I therefore also expect everyone reading this to also have seen it multiple times.
It deserves this fame however, as it is not only a very clever design in terms of its solution, but in its concept. If you hadn’t realised, it is to be written on a shot glass, so that when the shot is ready to be drunk, it reads ‘Drink’. When the shot has been drunk and slammed upside-down on the table, suddenly it reads ‘Drunk’.
The design above is by the well known name and previous editor of ambigram.com – Nikita Prokhorov. It made me smile when I first saw it, as he had given it the caption: ‘Either way it makes sense’. Which is sweet! I love how the same S/E glyph has been used 4 times, and the N is perfectly symmetrical in the middle. It almost feels as if it had been written with a font rather than designed to be symmetrical.
This design by Jeremy Goode is intended as a logo to be placed on his range of ball mazes, which you can find on his website www.xmatrix.co.uk. The ball mazes are designed to be the same upside down, which makes it fitting that the logo is an ambigram – as you turn the puzzle to complete it, the logo remains readable. Here, the logo could be seen as a metaphor for the puzzle.
I really appreciate the M/RI and the A/T solutions – they’re both very ambitious and could easily have gone wrong, but here they have been made completely legible.
Here is another design which many of you have probably seen before. By the well known ambigrammers behind Nagfa, this shirt can be seen as a metaphor for the person the arrow is pointing at (at a push). This person would feel happy that their friend is wearing a shirt which describes them as clever. Little do they know that they are in fact stupid, since they do not notice the fact that the shirt is an ambigram. Like the shirt, the person appears clever on the outside, but secretly they are stupid (I told you it was at a push!)
The final design is another one by me. I made this a few years ago, so forgive the amateurish presentation! A poem is written around the edge of the page, forcing the reader to turn it round. The act of turning it round however demonstrates that the final word in the middle is in fact an ambigram. I’m not sure how I could paint this as a metaphor, but I thought I’d show it off nonetheless!
If you have any suggestions for more clever ambigram designs, email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.