Ambigram Identity Online: Ektopia

Jul 1st, 2009 | By | Category: Design Secrets

My friends are all too familiar with my ambigram obsession. I believe there is even a clinical term in Latin for this: Ambigramus Obsessivus. That diagnosis aside…one of my friends sent me the link to a blog featuring an ambigram identity. Of course I had to investigate further!

I contacted the owner of the blog, and they pointed me in the direction the artist Papper & Penna. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about the creation process for the Ektopia logo.  Read on!

1. What type of a blog is Ektopia, and why did you think an ambigram logo was the perfect solution?


Used with permission from Ektopia and Papper & Penna

Ektopia blog is about creative art. The logo wasn’t a commission design. Me and Jay (Ektopia) are friends on “Flickr” and I follow his photostream. In his gallery I saw an attempt of his doing an “reflection” ambigram (see below).  He explained how he needed a new logo for his blog “Ektopia” and that he really wanted it to be an ambigram but had some struggles and was reaching out for ideas.

As soon as i laid my eyes on his drawing I got inspired and thought of how I could improve his design and make the letters work better with each other.  I’ve been drawing letters my whole life but I became really passionate when I discovered graffiti. As a graffiti writer I always aimed for symmetry in my letters. The thing about graffiti is that it’s often meant to be wild and hard to read. But an ambigram is no good in my opinion if it is not clearly legible. I hate ambigrams that look forced into symmetry.

After some doodling pen on paper I soon discovered that the letter combination “ektopia” would work better as a rotational ambigram and not reflectional. Its a fun challenge sketching up letters one by one that should work as other letters up side down. I constantly rotated my paper and it must have been a funny sight if you didn’t know what I was up to.

2. What and/or who was your inspiration for the ambigram mark?

Jay’s sketch.


Used with permission from Ektopia and Papper & Penna

3. The Ektopia ambigram has a very distinct aesthetic to it: the blackletter/gothic look is a fairly common trend in ambigram design. Was that the initial look you were going for, or did you attempt other styles as well?

I think the main reason that the “gothic” look is common among ambigram designs is that the letters often are symmetrical as they are. Gothic and blackletters have very straight-vertical lines which is appreciated when you draw ambigrams. They are also decorative and you can hide or reveal letter-parts among “ornaments”. I don´t know if that answered your question but yeah I wanted the logo to be artsy/aesthetic, but a script font could have worked as well. The important thing is how you alter it.

4. Do you think the mark accurately represents Ektopia and its purpose?

Yeah, Ektopia’s blog is about more than just art and my logo-design is more than just a logo.

5. What was the most challenging aspect of the design & development process of the ambigram mark?

An ambigram is always challenging if the word is not an palindrome obviously. Haha. But if you want me to pin point out a specific detail I guess it was making the “kt” look like a “p” upside down.


Used with permission from Ektopia and Papper & Penna

6. Are there any ambigram artists that you personally admire?

I honestly don’t know any names but a personal favorite is the logo for “Blacksmith management”. It looks so obvious and natural, not forced into an ambigram.  (Take a look at the Blacksmith ambigram here.)

7. What is your background? Are you a designer, fine artist, or a hybrid of the two? Or, is there anything else in the mix that inspires your design and art?

I am a freelance logo designer. Together with a friend I have “Papper och Penna”. I find inspiration in everything from my 3 year old sons drawings to food labels and old signs.

Much thanks to both Papper & Penna and the Ektopia blog for providing the material for this article.


Here is the link to the Ektopia blog
Ektopia Blog

Here is the Flickr photo-stream for Papper & Penna. Take a look at some of his wonderful typographic work!

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