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For those of you that have read Dan Brown's first book "Angels & Demons" it should come as no shock to you that my favorite part of the book had nothing to do with the plot (eeek! Race around for clues for a reveal that is...kinda...dumb) but instead the fascinating ambigrams created by John Langdon. He's done some terrific stuff and since I read Angels and Demons I've spent too much time in droning meetings trying to create some ambigrams of my own.

I went to his site the other day and he has been working on a new type of ambigram...something he calls Totemic Ambigrams... rather than trying to force an ambigram out of entire word he stacks the letters for a greater chance to twin the letters. It's a neat effect and I've been doing some idle ambigramic doodling with people's names.

This isn't really a regular ambigram OR a totem ambigram. It IS twinned but you can't read it equally upside down. The letters are just side by side and not stacked. Have to rework this one.

This is more totemic...see how the SUZ is stacked upon the ANNE?
I've also doodled out a "WYCKHURST" but it needs much work before I'll post it. I should try to totem out her kids names as well.

This one was almost too easy.
I'm going to give myself more of a challenge and try to do a full "JEANETTE." Actaully the ETTE should twin fairly easy... just need to figure out how to twin and stack the JEAN part.

I'm not happy with this one at all...I'm going to rework it quite a bit methinks. I think I should also talk to Brent about totemic ambigrams...I bet people would really go for them as tattoos... their name or their loved one's name... or both as a somewhat abstract design? Pretty neat.

Again...this one was pretty easy. I should try to do a full "LAWRENCE" as a totem. That will be more of a challenge since there isn't anything too obviously twinning in his name.


I'm going to keep playing with this...obviously these are really rough but they're really fun visual puzzles to work out. How do you mirror letters and create an image out of words that is asthetically pleasing and yet oddly functional? Talk about typography!

What do you think sirs?


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 24th, 2006 08:59 pm (UTC)
What I like about the Brent one is that you seem to be using the negative space to suggest letterforms as well as the black marks themselves. Muy cool.
May. 24th, 2006 09:05 pm (UTC)
Yeah...I think I'm going to try to do that a little more...they really suggest some interesting space.
May. 24th, 2006 09:11 pm (UTC)
Actually the more I look at them the more inclined I am to try to make the negative space do the majority of work on quite a few of them. Hmmm....

May. 24th, 2006 09:17 pm (UTC)
I think that you could have a lot of fun exploring that angle – and get yourself through plenty of banal work-meetings as well...!
May. 24th, 2006 09:37 pm (UTC)
Actually I thought of you when I first started doodling these out, especially after telling me I should study fonts.

I'd be curious to see what sort of designs you would come up in meetings...you are in so more than I.
May. 24th, 2006 09:21 pm (UTC)
Those are SO cool. And I think people would love them as tattoos. I know I would.

If you get bored one day, would you try something with Marianne? I think if it came out well, I really would love having it inked on me somewhere.
May. 24th, 2006 09:40 pm (UTC)
Next boring meeting I'll surely try to break down your name. :)

Maybe I will do names as a little side design business. ;)
May. 24th, 2006 10:02 pm (UTC)
That would ROCK.

And, you know, that's not a bad idea. If you really enjoy the process, you might talk to some tattoo parlours -- people pay a LOT for original tattoo art.
May. 24th, 2006 09:28 pm (UTC)
Interesting to see your approach vs the one I took creating my ambigram alphabet. 26 versions of the 26 letters. Of course, yours requires artistic input on each word, while mine only took sheer power to ram the letters through each permutation.
May. 24th, 2006 09:38 pm (UTC)
Did you finish it then? I'll have to take a look at them and run them through fontographer and see if we can make an actual font of them. You should look at Langdon's site and check out the font he worked out called "Flexion" Pretty interesting.
May. 24th, 2006 10:27 pm (UTC)
I have not a clue what any of this means or relates to...still, it is pretty neat.

I like "Suzanne" and "Mark" the best.

Do you do any graffitti type stuff...you know, like the kind spray painted on boxcars? 'Cause I can never read what they say, but they look cool.
May. 25th, 2006 03:04 am (UTC)
All I can say is that I HAVE to try it now! I went to his website because I had no idea what you were talking about. I got so involved I almost forgot to come back to look at yours properly.
May. 25th, 2006 04:05 am (UTC)
You should really drop a line to ceruleanst and check http://www.absurdnotions.org/ - I swear, that man is the god of ambigrams.
May. 25th, 2006 04:52 pm (UTC)
I love Brent, even though you're not happy with it yet. Also Suzanne. Heck, I love them all!

Bizarrely, I've been working on the same thing, but I don't know if I'm any good or not. I've been nervous about posting them, because when I look it seems perfectly clear to me, but then, I've been making them. So I don't know if it's actually clear, or it's just me. But I want one for my website.

Ok, I'll take the plunge: here's the one I'm happiest with. It's bilateral, not rotational:


I'm also working on a figure/ground alexfiles with files in the negative space and alex in the black. If it ever works, it'll be an icon. Too fascinating.

I love the selling idea - you should go for it!

May. 25th, 2006 10:45 pm (UTC)
Those are cool! The ambigrams in that book are fascinating, and it is really neat that you are taking on the challenge of designing your own.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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