Real World Ambigrams: Pug & OBP

Aug 7th, 2011 | By | Category: Interviews, Real World Ambigrams & More!, News brings you another Real World Ambigram! This one comes to us from Kevin Prejean of Prejean Creative, a multimedia advertising agency that specializes in brand development. Kevin is the owner and creative director of Prejean Creative in Lafayette, Louisiana. He has been in the advertising graphic design industry since 1983 & has designed hundreds of logos, icons and illustrations. Today, he talks to us about how ambigrams made their way into creative work. When was the first time you encountered ambigrams?

Kevin Prejean I’m embarrassed to admit this, buy I have the LP “White Hot” for the glam rock band “Angel” in my vinyl collection. At the time, I didn’t know what an ambigram was, and I’m not sure how long it took me to discover that their logotype was readable upside down. I’d like to say I bought the album because of the logo design but the truth is I bought a lot of rock albums back then, both good and bad. 
Before the mirror ambigram for PUG, have you tried to create any ambigrams? Would it be possible to see them?

Kevin Prejean In spring of 1989 I was on a team of designers working on a poster for the Dallas Society of Visual Communications. The poster was announcing two guest speakers and was titled “Over the Edge.” The symmetry of the word “EDGE” lent itself to ambigram possibilities and exploration. The final poster design used similar hand-drawn type derived from the exercise, but not an ambigram version. A Google search revealed several similar “EDGE” ambigram designs. It seems it is a popular, or obvious, word for ambigram experimentation. While you were developing concepts for PUG/OBP, was an ambigram concept in the forefront or did it come about later in the process?

Kevin Prejean I’ve never approached a logo design with the intention of creating an ambigram. An ambigram opportunity may, or may not, surface while doing the thumbnail ideation. For PUG, the ambigram possibility presented itself while tinkering with a lower case version of the word PUG. Another designer I was working with, Joe Barnes, discovered the all-caps treatment used in the final logo.

For Ovid Bell Press, the idea came from working with three circles for the initials. By removing the letter spacing, the concept of press sheets surfaced and it became symmetrical. To make the press sheets and rollers more overt, the perspective was changed from flat to dimensional. I don’t know all the rules, but the final version may not be considered a pure ambigram. What was the reaction of the client to the PUG/OBP ambigram logo, and why did they decide to go with it?

Kevin Prejean For PUG it was an immediate hit with the client. The pairing of the PUG type with the teeth negated the need to have type paired with a stylized pug dog icon.

In the case of Ovid Bell Press, we were a third-party design resource and didn’t work directly with this client. I don’t recall the reason, but the client chose a basic typographic treatment of the initials instead of this design. That was a big disappointment. I liked the idea enough to keep it in our agency portfolio. An ambigram is challenging enough to perfect if it is a personal project, but it will be observed even closer (and perhaps with more scrutiny) if it is an actual
commissioned piece that will be displayed in the ‘real world.’ What were your biggest challenges in perfecting the PUG and OBP ambigrams?

Kevin Prejean As mentioned before, I didn’t set out to do an ambigram for a logo. It was the fortunate result. In developing logos, I gravitate to solutions that are bold and simple. As
a result, the PUG and OBP logo ambigrams lack the complexity seen in some the incredibly complicated ones done for non-commercial purposes. The focus was more about creating a successful logo identity than a successful ambigram. Would you use an ambigram for another logo/identity, or would you have any reservations about it?

Kevin Prejean If the solution is on target strategically and graphically, sure. When executed properly an ambigram adds an extra layer of interest to an identity. The only reservation I can think of is trying to force-fit an ambigram as a solution. It could result in making the mark too complicated, less legible or simply not as visually appealing. What, to you, is the most unique aspect of an ambigram?

Kevin Prejean They have a discovery or “Aha” aspect to them. They’re intriguing and keep me engaged. They’re the typography equivalents of Escher drawings.

Kevin, thank you very much for sharing your work and your insight behind it. Beautiful work!

Leave a comment »

  1. Nice article :)

  2. Very very nice and interesting article!

  3. Yes to ambigram

  4. I like the ambigram of “pug,” but the entire piece doesn’t work. And that’s for one simple reason: he’s clearly mistaken Pugs for Bulldogs. For me, that negates the overall effect.

  5. I think you should have mentioned that Robert Petrick designed the “angel logo” which was prinred on the cover.

(page contents are not an accurate historical record. Many pages were modified in 2012)
If you liked this page, you may also be interested in creating your own ambigrams or ambigram tattoos.