An ambigram is a typographical design that can be read in multiple viewpoints, directions and/or orientations. The word(s) that can be read in another viewpoint can be the same word but also a completely different word. There are many types of ambigrams such as rotational ambigrams, reflective types and 3-dimensional. The most basic and popular ones are the flipscript or rotational ambigram.
Here’s an example of the word ambigram, rollover to see it rotated 180 degrees and discover that it still looks exactly the same:
Ambigrams tend to be a little bit more difficult to read, this has to do with the difficulty in making a letter have different meaning in another viewpoint. The modifications that are being made look like ornaments in the viewpoint where it’s not meaning anything. Therefore it has the characteristics of calligraphy.
Other words for ambigram are: vertical palindromes, designatures and inversions.
Logos using this technique
This form of art has been used in logos as well. The earliest known use of this technique in a logo originates from 1969. Raymond Loewy used this technique when designing a logo for New Man, a French clothing company. The logo of New Man is pretty timeless, they are still using it today!
Other examples are xpedx, Sun Microsystems (1982), Hyundai and Anouk (2009). Below are those logos displayed, imagine them to be rotated 180 degrees and you’ll notice that also in that viewpoint they are exactly the same.
Ambigram tattoo designs
The style of a large proportion of ambigrams is also the kind of typography that is being used in tattoo design. So it’s not a surprise they use this art form in tattoos as well.
Well known Ambigram artists
Two well known artists with this typographic art are John Langdon and Scott Kim. Both artists thought they had invented the ambigram in the 1970s which was not the case. Though both artists are most likely responsable for the popularization of ambigrams. When you visit their website, take a look at their logos, both of them have turned their logos into an ambigram as well!
John Langdon made some Ambigrams for Angels & Demons (both the book and the film).
John Langdon also published a book about ambigrams called Wordplay, and as you might expected, the word “Wordplay” is also an ambigram:
Scott Kim used the word inversions for his designs, he said that he did that because it worked well with his name. On the cover of his book you’ll see why.
Scott Kim also did some vertical ambigrams, the right and left half are exactly the same but then reversed:
There are a couple of generators that can create a design for you. These generators are not optimal but will give you pretty cool results. There’s a generator at Flipscript.com, on Ambigram.co.uk and at Wowtattoos.com
More information about ambigrams: