Favorite Ambigrams, Part I

Aug 26th, 2009 | By | Category: Ambigram Gallery

I asked some members of the design community to tell me about their favorite ambigrams.  Here is what they had to say.

John Langdon

I have favorite ambigrams now and then.  They last for a while, and then they’re not my favorite any longer.  If I have a current favorite, it would be one of Scott Kim’s recent ambigrams of the phrase “REVERSE ENGINEERING”.


It reads as easily as any ambigram, it has a consistent style and sort of a heavy construction look, and there’s obviously a nice resonance between the phrase and the ambigrammatic treatment.  In fact that relationship seems to kind of wink  at the viewer, and thus helps, along with the choppy style and the particularly un-engineer-y color treatment, to create a sense of fun. All that adds up to a highly charming piece of ambigram art. In addition, it’s always nice to see reversible glyphs that we haven’t seen before, and this ambigram appears to have at least a couple of those.

As long as I have another paragraph available, maybe I can get away with mentioning a few more without showing them. I’ll first mention Scott’s  GATHERING FOR GARDNER 5 animated logo. (http://www.scottkim.com/inversions/gallery/g4g5.html) While it has  only a couple of double-function glyphs, is just so much fun to watch, it’s been a favorite for a long time. Another old favorite is Bob Petrick’s NONSENSE. More recent: Brett Gilbert’s CHRISTMAS (displayed below) and Daan Juttman’s HALF BLOOD PRINCE.

Of my own work, the Philosophy ambigram would be a favorite.


With it’s text accompaniment, it represents the heart and soul of all my ambigram work, but it’s a bit too old to still carry around as a favorite.

Robert Petrick


Robert Petrick sent in a whole collection of his ambigrams! When asked which ones were his favorites, he said “I think out of those EUROPE, then secondly JESTER.”

Douglas Hofstadter
http://www.introspections.org/2008/07/22/the-ambigrams-of-douglas-hofstadter/ (This website isn’t Douglas’s, but a great collection of his other ambigrams.)


Douglas Hofstadter sent in an ambigram classic.  He added the following. “…I don’t think anyone who knows English will have too much trouble reading this ambigram — it’s the names of the seven classic colors of the rainbow, in the standard ROYGBIV order, with each word written in its own color: RED, ORANGE, YELLOW, GREEN, BLUE, INDIGO, VIOLET.

They all read both as shown here and also when reflected in a mirror (otherwise it wouldn’t be an ambigram, would it?).  And then, below the rainbow, as a cherry on the sundae (or a cherry underneath the sundae), there is one last line. What does it say?  Well, it says both “DOUG” and “2006″, the year in which I created this ambigram.  The last line both an oscillation ambigram, as well as a mirror-reflection ambigram…”

Mark Hunter

There are so many great ambigrams, from so many talented people, it’s really hard to pick one “favorite”.  So, I’ll pick three that really stand out in my memory, for different reasons.  The first is John Langdon‘s “PHILADELPHA – CITY OF BROTHERLY LOVE”.  The complexity is mind-boggling, yet the design is instantly readable.  John clearly put a lot of thought and effort into this design, and it shows.


A nice example of clever word selection is this Mark Palmer DR JEKYL / MR HYDE ambigram.  If there was ever a character worthy of being displayed as two sides of a single design, it is this mild-mannered monster.


Finally, I love the way that Scott Kim goes the extra mile for his designs, adding complex animations and often creating new types of ambigrams that have never been seen before.  Here is an example of how Scott presents one of his vertical reflection ambigrams of the words TEACH and LEARN:

Teach / Learn Animated Reflection Ambigram

Teach / Learn Animated Reflection Ambigram

I would probably also give props to the creator of the “Princess Bride” DVD cover ambigram, but I have no idea who created it.

Princess Bride Ambigram

Patrice Hamel


Patrice Hamel, a French ambigram designer, sent in this gorgeous example.


Brett Gilbert

Brett Gilbert sent in the following example, and had this to say.


“…Why do I like this particular ambigram? Partly because it is such a familiar word, yet the design seems very natural and simple, even though it relies on a few tricks. For me, it is really important to achieve a consistent typographic style in a design, and to making sure that each letter has an appropriate weight and scale, so that no part of a design seems out of place. I was lucky with the ‘Christmas’ design that this was possible.
The central ‘T’, if taken on it’s own, is not a ‘T’ at all, simply a 4-pointed star, yet somehow within this design it seems totally at home, and immediately readable. This is a case of where the typographic style matches the theme so well that the design becomes even easier to read than it might be otherwise.
Each of the letters is interesting to me. The ‘S’s are consistent, and I really like the way the ‘M’ is formed; even the ‘R’, which is missing it’s vertical stroke, works without looking forced.
Taken together the design is a big success – and I was as surprised as anyone else to discover this! It’s such fun to create something, not knowing how it will turn out. This is an example of a design that turned out much more successful than I expected, and with a coherency that utterly surprised me. It was a real joy to create and it remains my favourite!…”

Nikita Prokhorov

Finally, I decided to add my favorite ambigram. To be honest, the question “what’s your favorite ambigram” is fully loaded! There are so many ambigram artists, and so many fantastic ambigrams, that it really is hard to pick just one. So, I had to cheat just a little bit and pick the following three:


Why are they my favorites? A very simple reason: they were the ones that began my love affair with ambigrams when I first opened Dan Brown’s book several years ago.


And that’s that! Some favorite ambigrams from some ambigram designer & lovers. If anyone has a favorite ambigram (especially one that is not their own) that they’d like to see in part 2 of this series, email me at nikita@ambigram.com.

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  1. Dan Brown did blow open the doors to a whole new form of art for me too. Have you been able make one similar to the diamond from Angels and Demons ? Takes my breadth away , just to look at it .

  2. i was very impressed by the ambigrams in dan brown’s angels and demons. so much so, i now have the fire ambigram on the inside of my left wrist. thank you sir for inventing, and i am dreadfully sorry if i impinged on any copyrights.

  3. Thanks, Bharat and Timothy,
    No, Bharat, I have not been able to make another ambigram like the Illuminati Diamond. I have done a couple of other versions of those four words together. One preceded Angels and Demons and inspired Dan to some degree to build his A&D plot around my ambigrams. The other is going to stay under wraps for the time being. And while I love the challenge of multi-word ambigrams, I haven’t tried, and am not likely to try, to make another one “like” the Diamond. For me, each ambigram finds it’s own unique solution. And Timothy, congratulations on your Fire tat. I’m flattered when people want to latch onto one of my ambigrams on a permanent basis. Thank you for that! John

  4. new site : http://www.patricehamel.org
    Réplique n° 22 : http://www.patricehamel.org/Patrice-hamel/Replique-n-22/p2a34.html

  5. new site : patricehamel.org

    Réplique n° 22 : http://www.patricehamel.org/Patrice-hamel/Replique-n-22/p2a34.html

  6. Réplique N° 22 : http://www.patricehamel.org/Patrice-hamel/Replique-n-22/p2a34.html

    Nouveau site en ligne : http://www.patricehamel.org

    Matières à réflexion : œuvres in situ, meubles métafonctionnels, textes plurilecturables, théorie de l’appréhension sensorielle…

  7. [...] Los mejores ambigramas [...]

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