An ambigram, also known as an inversion, is a graphical figure that spells out a word not only in its form as presented, but also in another direction or orientation. This is typically when viewed as a mirror-image or when rotated through 180 degrees. The word usually is not a palindrome, although it may be. Sometimes the word spelled out from the alternate direction may be a different one, but for mirror-image ambigrams the canonical form spells out the same word.
Ambigrams in their modern form are a conception of John Langdon who compiled his work in his 1992 book Wordplay.
However, ambigrams were made famous through Dan Brown’s novel Angels & Demons.
I first came across the following ambigram in a copy of Omni magazine in the early 1980s
Here is the same ambigram upside down:
and found them to be a great mental excercise. Langdon discusses his technique in his article “Typographic Dopplegangers”.
This is the most famous commercial ambigram in Canada:
Voice of Amercia also uses an ambigram for its logo:
Here is a hastily drawn ambigram of my first name:
The most awesome piece of name ambigram software is at Ambrigram.com’s Flipscript Designer
I also recommend a very good ambigram blog Ambigrams by Nagfa from one of my favorite countries, Singapore. Ambigram artists from all over the world contribute to this blog to share ideas and compete. I consider it the best of all the sites I have found. Here is one they graciously did for me:
This is another artform Nagfa does:
An ambigram tutorial can be found at Ambigrams.net
Another ambigram site that has increased in popularity is Wow Tattoos. This is the site of Mark Palmer who has made a career of ambigram tattoos such as the “singularity” tattoo above.
I came across this bilingual Chinese English ambigram at David Moser’s Chinese Ambigram Site
Here’s something really innovative by ambigram artist Amafirlian on flicker (available in many sizes) called “fire”:
I just found this elegant ambigram below by Tiffany Harvey who does custom work through her site WordIllusion.com
Here’s a nice example of the name “Karen” from Ambigraphix:
“AS YOU WISH”, here’s an ambigram that will keep on giving to the ladies in your life (click on the image to go to amazon.com, no catch):
And in closing I found this at The Roman Empire Blog:
(image: geekologie.com, via suck.uk.com)
I recommend playing with ambigrams yourself to increase your mental flexibility.
I also add to this collection every month or so. Please drop in again sometime.