ACAC Sadiq/Shana: Results

Nov 24th, 2009 | By | Category: A.C.A.C., Feature, News

The results for the Sadiq/Shana challenge are in!

For the first time in ACAC’s short history, this challenge was sponsored by a reader of, who wanted a unique ambigram. The word combination proved to be challenging for all of the artists involved, and even for some writers, who secretly doodled the names Sadiq & Shana on various scraps of paper to see what combinations are possible.

Although the final decision was up to the sponsor of the challenge, the judges made comments on the top 5 ambigrams and provided their own scoring separate from the sponsor’s judgment. Interestingly, our blind internal scoring showed that the top 2 designs were only separated by 0.1 point! That just goes to show that with ambigrams, its the subtle details that can take a design to the top.

Comments from the Sponsor

Please express our deepest thanks and admiration for all the artists who participated, because although we can’t mention all the designs, each one got a reaction and was special in its own way. However, when selecting the winner, the thought was to choose a design that of course was aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but equally as important, one that captured both the masculine and feminine energy, and we think Bastian’s design did this and with a hint of mysticism in the design. This is because one of the top three could end up as matching tattoos! Maybe…

The choice was very difficult, and again, each design was awesome!

Thanks again to all the artists who participated.

The Results

[NOTE: 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.]

1. Bastian Pinnenberg – WINNER!
Website –

Sadiq Shana Winner


“…Here’s my contribution for the ongoing ACAC. I tried to achieve a clean, legible look and, since there was no information about how the ambigram would be used, passed on all visuals and filters (Except for a drop shadow. But hey, that’s no real filter… ;-) ). The original design was made in blackletter, but I wanted something cleaner and changed it to a curvy serif. The most tricky part was the “S/NA” inversion, the rest came pretty much automatically…”


Mark – Congratulations! I thought that the S/Q was really the big challenge here, but you did some unexpected things with that S/NA combination, and I believe that’s what set your design apart to take the top honor! We’ll be in contact with you shortly to get you the prize money, and you’ll need to send the original design to the contest sponsor.

Nagfa – A solid work, indeed. The weights of the lines were played to perfection here, and being smartly utilised in the S-NA combination. This work has details in each stroke, most noticeably in the similarly-rendered tails of the S and N; and the very thematically-correct little diamond-dots. The effectiveness of using the consistent uppercased A made the reading easier too. Congratulations, Bastian!

Nikita – The legibility here is impeccable. The S/NA inversion, which Bastian specified as the most ‘tricky part’, is beautifully done. The other part which really speaks for the consistency of this ambigram is the similarity between the three lowercase ‘a’ characters. This to me was the biggest challenge of this ambigram; to make the letters (that are otherwise similar in a standard alphabet) appear similar in a complex ambigram. Another great submission from a seasoned ambigram designer!

2.  Michael Irving
Website –



“This was a tough one. Since both names shared an S as their initial letter my first priority was to work out their respective inversions to the Q and the A. Through much trial and error the other characters eventually fell into place. The trickiest part I found was creating the lightweight thread device I used to help delineate the H and complete the A in Shana, without compromising the readability of Sadiq.”


Mark – You make this look easy, like you just happened to doodle a complex ambigram. However, when you look close at the design, you see just that is is not easy at all.

Nagfa – A surprisingly whimsical ambigram, this. Light-hearted and casual, this piece has elegance all over it. The manner in which the strokes transition into another still pleases me. That extra stroke between A and D fits in so smoothly. Ditto too the extra line for the ‘h’. The strength of this piece is its refreshing new style.

Nikita – What I love most about this ambigram are the subtle flourishes, which work great in both directions and really help define the letters well. There is a nice consistency and transition from character to character. The only part of the ambigram which stands out as inconsistent is the lowercase ‘h’, which strays from the thickness that is so apparent in the other letters. That being said, I understand the artists’ reasoning for doing it, and I think it’s a good solution.

3.  Ruel Masacaya
Website –



“…I like working on specific words or names as compared with themes because I learn more this way after seeing other artists´ solutions.  I also like working with couples´ names, as you could see on my gallery.   It maybe because by making this kind of ambigram, you make 2 people happy instead of just one.  The greatest challenge I encountered in making this ambigram is the IQ-SH combination.  It also took a lot of time for me to decide whether to show only one name or both….”


Mark – Our sponsor seemed to like the interconnected names, and there is a hint of an ampersand between them, but I think that the design suffers from just one letter out of place: The “h” in Shana. At first glance, the second word looks like “Slana” (or even “Slang”), and you have to hunt to see that little “h” tucked in there. Otherwise, a very good submission.

Nagfa – This is a stylish smooth piece, with minimal strokes. Though the fused letters confused the reading of the names. The initial ‘Sa’ and the end ’na’ suffered the most. Having said these, the central Q-S made for an interesting link for the two names.

Nikita – The flow & readability of this ambigram reminds me of a straight line connecting two points: easy to read, easy to follow & no obvious imperfections. I love the consistency of the line, even when it tapers off at the ends of the ‘a’ and the ‘S.’ The biggest issue with this execution is the lowercase ‘h’: it work great when disguised in ‘Sadiq’, yet looks out of place in ‘Shana.’ In ‘Shana’, the ‘h’ and the ‘S’ almost merge together to form a very complex and illegible character, which is the only drawback to this otherwise beautiful ambigram.

4. Tiffany Harvey
Website –



“…When I did my first rough sketch of these names, I accidentally used “Shauna” instead of “Shana”. I was so pleased to get them to pair together, until I looked at the page again and realized it was not quite so tricky! I think the SH/Q combination originated there, though for a long time I was trying to use mostly lowercase lettering for the design. To get the height for a lowercase “h”, the “Q” dropped even further beneath the other letters and was just too gigantic and distracting. Luckily I was able to switch to a capital “H” and reel in the “Q” and “S”s a little….”


Mark – Tiffany, the judges scored this one higher than the sponsor, and your design was easily at the top of the competition. The legibility is excellent, and the dedication to maintaining the proper line widths is clearly evident. The line through the center of the design to cross the “H”s and the “A”s without looking out of place was also a great move, and you made a great decision to hide the “H” within the initial “S” in Shana to help the other letters line up correctly.

Nagfa – Consistent letterings and easy flow of strokes. The end-swirls added a feminine touch to the solution. The most intricate detail would be that nicely-concealed H-part behind the S, which rotates beautifully into a Q.

Nikita – Tiffany has a signature to her work, which makes it incredibly easy to identify as her work; it’s consistent. Her characters, regardless of how complex the ambigram is, look like the came from a well designed typeface. That can be an advantage and a disadvantage; in this case, it’s a slight disadvantage, as the characters look a bit too similar at times and become hard to distinguish from one another. That being said, the consistency and the flow of the lines in this ambigram is beautiful.

5. Cleber Faria
Website –



“…I did several sketches while trying to find a solution to this ambigram. The most challenging was the ‘I’ and the ‘H’ combination. That took several days to develop, and the final solution was a result of turning the uppercase ‘H’ into a lowercase ‘h’ while shortening several of the legs…”


Mark – Once again, the idea that the big challenge was in the S/Q is proven incorrect. Cleber knocks that combination out of the park! Both of those letters look completely natural, like there isn’t even much special going on. However, the bigger challenge (again) lives next door: the “h” in Shana. Overall, this was one of my favorite submissions on this round.

Nagfa – A simple and efficient design which makes it look so easy on the eyes. The names read easily, thanks to the good use of line thickness. The ‘n’ could well do with a less curvy bowl of the ‘a’ for an easier reading, and like most other solutions, the ‘h’ suffers the most.

Nikita – Cleber continues his outstanding ambigram work with this submission. What I love about this ambigram (as well as several others in this ACAC) is the consistency of the letterforms. My favorite letter inversion is the ‘S/Q’ combination. Beautifully done! What makes it a bit challenging is once again ‘h/i’ combination, as well as the consistency of the three lowercase ‘a’ characters. Other than those slight drawbacks, a very nicely designed ambigram!


As we specified in the original Ambigram Challenge Rules, we would only be able to post comments for the top 5 submissions.  However, we did want to post a few other favorite submissions from a few artists that did well in the competition, but not make it into our top 5 list.  It was a crowded contest, and the bar was set high.

In no particular order, here are the some entries that deserve to be recognized.

Daniel Dostal:

Daan Juttman

Rebecca May

Next Challenge: Holidays 2009

Many thanks to all the fantastic artists that contributed to this ACAC.

The next challenge will be “Holidays 2009“, and of course, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Years Eve will all be great choices.

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Leave a comment »

  1. Hi

    First I congratulate the winner, Bastian for his excellent eye catching ambigram.
    I would like to suggest, if the ACAC could at least provide the names of the contestants, if not comments.
    The contestants will at least be aware that they have participated in the contest.

    warm regards


  2. Some excellent solutions. I like Cleber Faria’s the best. I think it’s the easiest to read.

  3. Well done not just to the winner but to all those featured here. This was too tough for me!

  4. Congrats to the winner! The Daniel ambigram is also excellent!

  5. [...] For complete results, click here – [...]

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