I’m Geeking Out on Ambigrams

Every once in a while, I go on a creative bender. I’m not proud of it; it’s just the way I’m built. Yesterday (and a bit of this morning), my artistic tonic of choice was the obscure 19th-century art of the ambigram. (Update: Click the previous sentence to see the video, now live on lynda.com.) You know, those words that read the same way regardless of how you rotate the page. For example, here’s my name. Turn it upside-down and it’s still my name. Damn, I have a long name.

My name in ambigram

An ambigram can also be a piece of art that reads as one word one way and becomes another when turned upside-down. For example, can you guess what this word looks like when spun 180 degrees?

Creative artwork ambigram

If you guessed “cat vomit,” you’re wrong. Here’s the correct answer:

Creative artwork ambigram

These days, we naturally assume that the act of formatting the written word is a matter of selecting from a bunch of predefined fonts. Or maybe, just maybe, hand-drawn type is new again.

Did I mention that I just finished recording two movies about this very topic for my Deke’s Techniques series? For my esteemed video publisher lynda.com? By my reckoning, these movies will go live on October 18. Which means, as ever: Keep watching.

Next entry:Deke’s Techniques 041: Creating an Ambigram in Illustrator

Previous entry:dekeSpeak October 5


  • What’s an antivarb?

    What’s an antivarb?

  • That’s \“artwork\”, my friend

    That’s “artwork”, my friend smile

  • YMMV

    Even now you’ve told me that I can still only see ‘antivarb.’

  • I think Antivarb is a good call

    I showed it around the next day and I got:

    “That’s Creative upside-down.” I explain it’s another word. “I know what you’re saying, I totally get it. It’s Creative upside-down.”

    “That’s Aardvark.” I explain it’s not. “No, dude, I’m tellin’ you, it’s Aardvark.”

    “The first word is Art. That’s all I got.” I explain there’s more. “Yeah, as I said, I see Art.”

    Then there were the occasional folks who saw the whole word: “Artwork.”

    My point is that if I had had the time to focus-group it for a bit longer, I coulda maybe come up with something that worked with a wider demographic. But I didn’t. So what you see is what we got. At least it’s pretty.

    Shit, if you can’t read Artwork, no way you can read my name!

  • Confirmation bias

    Wouldn’t have been able to read the name without the benefit of confirmation bias.

    Just checked, nobody’s registered antivarb.com


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