Holy Shasterisk {Ambigrams}

beejay's picture
emp's picture

Where can I find a John Langdon book?

Mark Simonson's picture

I got the Scott Kim book when it was published in 1981 and tried doing some of that stuff myself for a short while. It's not easy, but it can be fun. I find it interesting but ultimately kind of a novelty.

Did you know Scott Kim designed the original Adobe logo? Not only that, some of the illustrations in his book were done using a predecessor of PostScript called JaM. The book was published in 1981 by Byte magazine and has a "backword" by Jef Raskin, the guy who started the Macintosh project at Apple.

Kim's stuff is more interesting intellectually, but Langdon's stuff is more aesthetically pleasing.

johnbutler's picture

Ahhh, ambigrams. I believe some of these can be found in Douglas Hofstadter's Metamagical Themas.

Mark Simonson's picture

There is also a Kim/Hofstadter connection: Hofstadter wrote the foreword to Kim's book, and Kim shows up frequently in Hofstadter's book.

Mark Simonson's picture

For bj:

holystuff

I hope you can read it. It's got some awkward spots, but it's
sometimes unavoidable with these things. I'm sure it could
be improved, but I gotta stop myself before I fritter away
any more time. (As if I've got nothing better to do... Sheesh. :-)

beejay's picture

Mark, thanks for that... :-)

These treatments all seem suitable for framing,
and this one is no exception.

"I gotta stop myself before I fritter away any more time."

That's a great quote....

Mark Simonson's picture

You're welcome.

These things can be pretty absorbing to work on. They're a
kind of puzzle, but you often don't know if a satisfying
solution even exists.

Blackletter is well suited to ambigrams due its many
ambiguous forms. In this case, it also happened fit the
words in a rather perverse way.

beejay's picture

had to try it...for some reason
square letters provided an oddball solution,
but refinement still lacking.

It is quite the puzzle...during the week
i'm going to give 'typophile' a shot.
seems like a higher degree of difficulty.

bj

beejay's picture

rereading this, the words didn't come out quite right ;;;

What I meant was the word 'typophile' looks to be
more difficult than a word like this
because of the particular letter pairings.

granted, this solution is pedestrian...


bj

Mark Simonson's picture

I just got around to taking a good look at Kim's site. His
work has gotten better since he wrote Inversions. I
especially like some of the animated pieces. (I think maybe
he needs to pay some attention to his site, though. Nearly
all the links on his "links" page are dead.)

If you can find a copy Inversions, it has lots of tips
and strategy advice for doing ambigrams, although you can
gleen quite a bit just by analyzing existing ones.

kennmunk's picture

holeee....

Tiffany, does the Langdon book have tips and tricks?

This is like Hunter S. Thompson typography,
gonzo type...

dyana's picture

Aww hell! I was going to post something about this on Typographi.ca. You totally scooped me. THANKS A LOT.

I've owned the Langdon book for several years, and I count it as one of the many things that steered me into being a type designer. It's awesome.

beejay's picture

>> Aww hell! I was going to post something about this on Typographi.ca.

Dyana, please, post something at t'graphica! Totally.
Share this work with as many people as possible.

btw, I can't be credited with a scoop, I first saw it at YH*,
as mentioned in the first post.

And you guys all have John's book! :-)

bj

*YH is www.yayhooray.com

dyana's picture

I will. Soon. When I have time. I have a jpeg and some stories to share myself. I just need to finish it.... someday.

lorp's picture

That was great, Mark!

Joachim Müller-Lanc

Mark Simonson's picture

Thanks!

Is there anywhere Joachim's creation can be seen online?

hrant's picture

Joachim is especially talented in combining positive/negative forms - must be part of his Japanese leanings.

hhp

lorp's picture

Mark - I just asked Joachim if he'd like to post links to any of his.

andrew_baker's picture

John's the main reason I stayed at Drexel, and am fascinated by type.

Eric P., e-mail John for a copy of his book.

beejay's picture

I'd like to get an ambigram tattoo I decided.

The eps file above...if anyone would like
to mess with this...a few combinations are
problematic. Collaboration appreciated.

beejay's picture

I haven't had time to follow all the links on the
Scott Kim site, but googling ambigram and typography
revealed this.

http://cerulean.st/ambigram/typography.html

Mark Simonson's picture

Hey, that's not bad! The o/a works better in the first one, I think. I don't know what you can do with the p/p. I like the t/y in the second one better.

The cerulean "typography" ambigram is good, but it looks like Greek to me. Probably because of the t/y and the p/p forms. The funny thing about yours was that I immediately read it as "typography" but I had difficulty picking out individual letters.

timd's picture

Picking out letters seems to be a problem I did a straw poll with some of these ambigrams and a couple I did myself, the quick glance allows people to read it but does not give the impression that it can rotate, blackletter seems to be the more effective, so here's one that I was playing with
ambigram.jpeg

beejay's picture

Tim, truly beautiful swashbuckling, mate.
Get a frame around it immediately!

here's where I was going with mine...
still a work in progress....

Mark Simonson's picture

Those are both great!

Tim, your ty/hy-ligature solution is very clever!

beejay's picture

Mark, "pretty absorbing" eh?

I think Tim and I are experiencing what you did
20-some years ago.

the Typophile ambigram was really bothering.

typo p hile
t=e
y=l
p=i
o=h
and flip the p.

blackletter and conventional, struck out.

I sketched out some cursive letters and
thought of suburban from emigre, with the
lowercase l and y being the same glyph flipped.

That made me decide that a script skeleton would work,
but I'd have to fudge a bit on the problematic h/o
combination...

the bottom one is a half-finished take on
word balloon, forum banter, etc.





Tim (or Mark), do either of you want to take this and do
some of your cool blackletter...while maintaining a script
skeleton...i don't know if it'd work.

Tim, I like your 'typography' as a late entry for the Tee contest
or an early favorite in the Typophile Tattoo contest.

bj

ps, this is not experimental!

:P

timd's picture

I have been struggling with typophile - at the moment I don't see an answer, especially the HO combination I think your script answer is close (as per John Langdon's City of Brotherly = Philadelphia) - I'll carry on fettling, "absorbing" doesn't really cover it though.
Tim

Mark Simonson's picture

Here's an alternate strategy:

typophileag2

I intentionally put in breaks in the y/l in hopes that it would
make the o/h trick less obvious. (My theory is that it helps
to give the unambiguous characters a bit of ambiguity to
make the unavoidably ambiguous ones blend in better.)

beejay's picture

Mark, i like where this solution is going,
especially the t/e...

the wide O seems to overpower...Typopoile?

not sure myself, but how would this geometric o/h fit in?
maybe the o is to y-like...

bj


rcapeto's picture

Kenn asked:

does the Langdon book have tips and tricks?

He has a chapter explaining the development of one of his
ambigrams,

Mark Simonson's picture

...Typopoile?

Well, you know, it was just off the top of my head. These thing tend to get a little hairy. :-)

I've got another idea I'll try to post later.

Mark Simonson's picture

How about this:

typophileambi3

beejay's picture

Mark, very inspiring! Especially the swirly p doing double-duty stems. :-)

it's just right as-is, imo, but the curious bones in my body
are forcing my fingers to type: What if it had a Suburban-style y-h?

aargh, sorry.

quoting from the Godfather,
"Just when I think I'm out, they keep pulling me back in."

bj

William Berkson's picture

And the winner of the typophile T contest is...

Mark Simonson's picture

Nah. To much like last year's. :-) Anyway, I'm one of the
judges this year. If Jared and Joe want to use it on the site,
it's okay with me, though.

Here's a loopier version:

typoambi3b

hrant's picture

Mark, this is great stuff!

hhp

kennmunk's picture

Mark, brilliant!

Rodolfo, thanks, I've ordered the book anyway...

Mark Simonson's picture

Thanks!

I had the basic idea for the last two last week, but it was
coming out all ugly. I couldn't get the o-p-h to work.
Forgetting about it for a while helped.

William Berkson's picture

If Jared & Joseph open up the option of voting for this as 'people's' choice, it will win hands down.

timd's picture

Far prefer the non loopy version, italicising it seems to add to the legibility.
The only way I could get past all the loops in the middle was this - still not a genuine solution as I cheated the e.typophile_small.jpg

Mark Simonson's picture

It's an interesting strategy to use all those swashes and
loops. They slip back and forth between being parts of
characters or decorative elements depending on how you
look at it. The tail on the y that becomes a dot on the i is
great.

beejay's picture

Golden!

cheshiredave's picture

Brilliant, inspirational work in this thread.

Mark Simonson's picture

Martin,

That's pretty good! I haven't seen many ambigrams done
with an existing typeface (Poetica).

kennmunk's picture

I'll get my 'Wordplay' book within few days! Wohoo!
Can't wait...

andrew_baker's picture

You might want to pick up Dan Drown's book Angels and Demon's.

That has Langdon ambigrams in it as well.

piccic's picture

I'm sure I already told you but I absolutely love your work, Mark.

piccic's picture

And I, too, like Martin's ambigram t-shirt using Poetica. I like the controlled "misuse" of glyphs to represent other glyphs.
I've attached my own thoughtype 2002 logo, created using one of my friend Cyrus Highsmith (of Font Bureau fame) experimental typefaces (and the CIA compendium of Jens Gehlhaar for the subhead) because it's quite the opposite of an ambigram: it may not be really "read", not even in a mirror.


application/pdftht_logo2002
thoughtype.logo_02.pdf (22.0 k)

myoung's picture

This seemed like fun so I gave it a try, I have a lot of homework this weekend, so I couldn't give it too much of my time, but It's in a pretty decent state.
I'm a 2nd year design student, so crits are more then welcome.

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