Ambivalent feelings this Valentine’s Day? Read the black letters then read the pink to see the opposite.

Ambigrams are extremely clever exercises in graphic design that play with optical illusions, symmetry and visual perception to create images which can be read more than one way.

The Love/Hate example above is by renowned typography artist John Langdon. John Langdon’s brilliant ambigrams have been favorites of mine for decades, ever since we met while exhibiting at Toy Fair in NYC. (Post 7/10/11). John designed the ambigrams for Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code series.  To know more about John Langdon, here’s his FB fan page and an engaging interview by Helen Walker.

Ambigrams usually fall into one of about a dozen categories including figure-ground (like Love/Hate above), rotational (above left), and mirror-image, 3-D cast shadow, and perceptual shift (all below). Ambigram generators are now available, but despite their “recent improvements” they fall so far short of the elegant ingenuity of John Langdon’s clever mind and hand they’re hardly worth a visit.

I’d love to see Langdon’s take on for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health!


Mirror-image           Three-dimensional      Perceptual shift  (Wave and Particle )