2011 Year in Review

Dec 28th, 2011 | By | Category: Artists, News

Dear ambigram designers, ambigram lovers, and our wonderful ambigram community,

As 2011 comes to a close, we would like to review this year and show why it has been the most successful in Ambigram.com’s history. From tougher challenges to new interviews, 2011 has brought in new participants and has raised the bar for more seasoned ambgirammists. We have also had more sponsored contests with prize money than ever, which we know can be a nice break from doing all of this fantastic work… for the fun of it. There are more sponsored challenges already lining up for 2012.

Firstly, and most importantly, we would like to say….THANK YOU!! To everyone who has thrown their pen, mouse or tablet (or in a couple of cases, their cookie dough or scissors) down into a Quick Draw or Ambigram Challenge (ACAC), contributed to the great dialogue in the discussions, or participated in any other way: Thank You!

Your talent and passion for ambigrams are being viewed and enjoyed by the world, and that is the same passion that keeps this community going, growing & developing into something very cool. As we move into 2012, our simple request is that you keep up the good work.

Before we get to the review of 2011, we will first begin with the results of our latest challenge, the Happy Holidays Ambigram Challenge!

Happy Holidays Challenge

The 2011 Happy Holidays Challenge was a fun challenge which expanded everyone’s horizons with various international holidays & festivals that were all fair game. Once again, it was difficult to judge the work simply due to the quality & diversity of the submissions. Also, keep in mind that judging ambigrams is not a perfect art. Yet, we do the best we can and if you feel like we’ve gotten something wrong, please do let us know with your excellent commentary under our opinions. With that said, let’s take a look at the top ambigrams in this challenge! [NOTE: If applicable, all If applicable, designs may be copyrighted by the respective artists. We have permission to post them here, but you must get permission from the artist for any other use of their design, or to post them elsewhere.]

1st place
This is not the first time we have had a tie for first place, but it is a very first time we had a 3-way tie! When the dust cleared and the smoke settled, the judges could not pick just ONE ambigram for the first place. And if you can’t pick one or two, why not pick three? We all agreed that these were worthy of a top spot, and all three of these designs will qualify for an Ambigrammy Award.

Daniel Dostal – Daniel returns to Ambigram.com to deliver this wonderful “nativitas domini” (The Nativity of the Lord) rotational ambigram. This design exhibits flawless lettering, a tasteful & appropriate background, and a beautiful balance between the two.

Jennifer Thorne – Hand-lettered ribbon lettering is challenging alone, but what happens when you try to twist it into an ambigram? This is one of those mind-blowingly complex designs that we have previously only seen before with Johan Skyllings “A Lot of Love” design. It is a real treat to be getting this beauty from Jennifer Throne. She really stepped up with this one! Great job on the complex lettering & very legible as well!

René González Pizarro – This third #1 ambigram is a wonderful hand-drawn ink-on-a-business-card submission from René that also happens to be an ambigram of the phrase “Happy Holidays”. René’s calligraphic influences in his ambigrams are most apparent in this submission. Me encanto esa ambigrama!

2nd place

Dan Adona Jr. – Dan comes back for a 2nd Ambigram Challenge, and once again makes an impression with his “Merry Christmas” mirror ambigram! While the overabundance of flourishes & effects make it a little bit difficult to read, it’s a beautifully balanced and designed ambigram.

3rd place

Iva Cheung – Let’s welcome Iva to the Ambigram Challenges, as this is her first time participating, and what an ambigram! While a bit more refinement in the lettering would really take this ambigram to the next level, it’s very legible and readable for a circular chain ambigram. Welcome to Ambigram.com…and keep coming back!

4th place

Sharath Kumar – Sharath once again surprises with a very unique ambigram and word choice! Legibility suffers a bit due to the difficulty of the word combinations and some unusual letter collisions and slightly too many background elements, but this designs shows that Sharath isn’t afraid of a tough challenge and pulls off a great word combination with some very unique lettering!

5th place

Michael Irving – Michael is a frequent contributor who has been a bit quiet lately, so we are very glad to see him back in action! He chose to tackle a very tough symbiotogram, and while the difference in the styles of the same letters makes it tough legibility-wise, it’s a very tough ambigram which he bent to his will and made it work! With a few tweaks, it could be a fantastic piece.

Thank you to all the other ambigrammists who submitted their work to this challenge. This is the last Ambigram Challenge of 2011, but the first ACAC of 2012 will be a sponsored challenge: so take a few days off, enjoy the holidays and then get ready to ambigram…mize??

Community Recognition

Our ambigram community is very widespread and covers nearly every continent, multiple countries and different ethnic backgrounds: what binds everyone together is their talent and passion for ambigrams. Every ambigram designer is unique in their own way, and we are all connected via ambigram.com as well as through various social networks. While it is impossible to mention everyone, Ambigram.com would like to recognize several ambigram designers which have helped develop our community on Ambigram.com, as well as via social networks and various off-line interaction.


This category comes down to two key people: John Langdon & Scott Kim. Aside from their knowledge and design expertise in the ambigram field, they have been very gracious in sharing their knowledge via their own work, as well as feedback and artistic discourse on and off Ambigram.com. So, John and Scott, thank you from Ambigram.com and on behalf of every ambigram design and artist whom you have later influenced (which is everyone here, and beyond).

Unique Presentation/Mediums

Aside from beautiful ambigram work, we have also seen some incredible medium choices. Here is just a small sampling of those artists who needed more than what a pencil and paper could provide.

Jen Winklepleck – Jen has always been creative with her submissions, but her latest submission of a mirror-ambigram that says “Secret Santa” is the tastiest one yet. If you don’t like these treats, you don’t deserve to be a Secret Santa. Jen, this is incredibly creative!

Johan Skylling – This ambigram was the winner of the Old School Ambigram Challenge. While Johan used good ol’ paper as a medium, he used it in a way that had a visceral connection with the word choice. The attention to detail goes all the way to the single drop of blood on the design.

By the way, we hope that drop of blood wasn’t real! I mean, we love it when you guys go all out to make your designs as outstanding as they can be, but we don’t want anyone drawing their own blood for an ambigram challenge just for the sake of realism.

Colin Christie – Is that neon chalk? In the middle of the street as an impromptu ambigram? Yes. Yes it is.

Carl Mehling – this graffiti ambigram was done as a beautiful tribute to a friend of the artist. It may be a simple word, but the choice of the ambigram type and the medium made it very challenging…and successful!

Nick Sahli – Nick has only recently joined the Ambigram.com community, but his medium choices and ambigram complexity has been very impressive. For this ambigram, he chose to carve a linoleum block and do a linoleum block print!

Ambigram Exploration & Experimentation

Sharath Kumar – It is difficult to push the boundary of ambigrams, as they are tricky enough to create without making the job even harder. Yet, Sharath Kumar, a long time contributor to Ambigram.com, consistently pushes that boundary and explores all kinds of different types of ambigrams. Sharath is apparently on a journey to learn as much as he can, and to push his own boundaries as well as the boundaries of the art form in general. Despite encountering some difficulties in a few of his early experiments, Sharath’s ambigrams have developed greatly. Below is Sharath’s submission from the ‘Old School Ambigram Challenge’ as well as his winning Ambigrammy ambigram!

Clayton Mabey – Clayton’s main area of experimentation has been mirror/reflective ambgirams. While he has submitted traditional rotational ambigrams in the past, he has nearly perfected the art of mirror/reflective ambigrams, which is a very difficult art-form that many of us could use some lessons in. We are fairly certain that anyone who has tried to draw a mirror or a reflective ambigram would love to know Clayton’s methods, and his mental workout routine! Below is his “Angels and Demons” mirror-ambigram submission for the ‘Say No To Simple Ambigrams Challenge.’

Ambigram Consistency

There are few designers who create an ambigram gem every time they pick up a pencil & paper, and these two designers most definitely belong in this category.

Daniel Dostal – Daniel’s ambgirams have graced our ambigram challenges several times, and every time it is an absolute treat. The letter forms, composition, color choice and overall balance is nearly perfect in every ambigram. Below is his winning ambigram for the ‘Movies and Television’ Challenge.

Johan Skylling – Johan’s designs are mind boggling in their complexity, and almost always commercial-quality and print-ready. When the Johan Skylling coffee-table book of art comes out, we want to be the first in line to get one. Whereas most ambigram designers shy away from overusing decorative elements, Johan embraces those elements. He creates a legible ambigram, floods it with (seemingly) unnecessary decorative motifs/flourishes, yet…they work every single time. Johan’s ambigram skills are matched by his seriously impressive graphic design skills. Below is Johan’s ready-for-commercial use “Trick or Treat” entry for the Halloween challenge.


Hand-drawn Ambigrams

Although most ambigrammists, myself included, start with paper & pencil, the computer takes over in the later stages of the design process. However, there are some designers who choose to ignore perfection that can be generated by the computer, instead embracing the imperfections of hand-rendered designs. Elwin Gill & Colin Christie definitely deserve recognition in this category, as their hand-drawn designs (submitted both on Ambigram.com and posted on various social networks) have been wowing us for quite some time.

Elwin’s submission for the ‘Old School Ambigram Challenge’.

Colin’s submission for the ‘Old School Ambigram Challenge’ (yes, it is hand-drawn… look closely).

Frequent Contributors

We also wanted to give recognition to anyone who has submitted multiple designs to Ambigram.com, including the ambigram challenges and the Quick Draw contests. We appreciate your continued efforts to make the challenges great, and look forward to more excellent art from you.

Many of the names listed below are easily worthy of their own write-up of their artwork and ambigram techniques, but in the interest of keeping the size of this article somewhat reasonable, we will need to just list the names of the site’s Frequent Contributors. Of course, you can do a site search for any person’s name to find a list of the article’s containing that artist’s work.

• Robert Maitland
• Björn Wichmann
• Bastian Pinnenberg
• Daan Juttmann
• Alex Paat
• Diego Colombo
• Rebecca May
• Cleber Faria
• John Moore
• Ihsan Ekaputra
• Robert Petrick
• Nick Gilbert
• Stijn Hommes
• Martijn Slegers
• Anoop Pai
• Nanda Kumar
• Kevin Pease
• Regar Julius
• Vasileios Stergioudis
• Prajyot Damle
• René González Pizarro
• Lei Arambala
• David Bailey
• Sam Alfano
• Ryan McCourt
• Daniel Sanchez
• Tomás Castañeda
• Krzysztof ?liwa
• Bryce Herdt
• Ed Xander
• Kay Hammond
• Gaurav Sharma
• Alessandro Pocaterra
• Renzo Bongocan
• Harold Kit Elvira
• Ignacio Silvera
• Deren Ozturk
• Suhas Shetty
• Stepy Kumara

Our sincerest apologies if we missed anyone. There are too many emails to go through and so many names to consider we couldn’t possibly include everyone. If you would like to be added to the list, send me a message email and we will be happy to add you!

A Preview of 2012

Here is what the ambigram community has to look forward to in 2012.

• The first Ambigram Challenge of 2012 will be a sponsored challenge with a monetary prize!

• Keep an eye out for several new interviews with fellow ambigrammists as well as graphic designers & illustrators.

• One (or more) of the Quick Draws in January will be very quick. How quick? Well, is 30 minutes quick enough?

• After the first sponsored Ambigram Challenge in January, the second Ambigram Challenge will be one of the hardest challenges we have ever done! Stay tuned!

As always, we love to hear from our international audience. Any suggestions, improvements, ideas for future Quick Draws or Challenges?

Once again, many thanks to everyone for a great 2011. Let’s make 2012 the best year yet for Ambigram.com!!

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(page contents are not an accurate historical record. Many pages were modified in 2012)
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