Ambigrams Explained

Ambigram Apparel Collection

Here at Pride Rocks we believe that your state of being is a matter of self perception that can be altered via a shift in perspective. This is the reason why various Ambigramic designs can be found throughout the store, the most obvious being our rotatable logo which reads the same right side up or upside down: 


To find out more read below for the Whats, Hows and Whys of this typographic artform.

So what is an Ambigram?

Ambigrams - also formerly known as vertical palindromes, designatures or inversions - are a form of typographic creation now known to date back to ancient times. Ambigrams play with optical illusion, symmetry and visual perception to create abstract lettering with transformative abilities that become evident via the shifting of perspective and perceptual bias.  

There are various types of Ambigram, such as: 

Rotational: The most common type created by ambigram enthusiasts, utilised by brands and incorporated into tattoo designs. This style of Ambigram typically depicts the same or two different words when rotated (See Symbiotogram below)


Symbiotogram: An ambigram that, when rotated, can be read as a different word than the original 


Mirrored/Reflective: A design that can be read when reflected in a mirror, usually as the same word or phrase both ways. Ambigrams that form different words when viewed in the mirror are also known as glass door ambigrams, because they can be printed on a glass door to be read differently when entering or exiting.


Totem: An ambigram whose letters are stacked. May be rotational or mirrored.


Perceptual Shift: A design with that can be read as two different words depending on how the letters are interpreted


Figure-ground: A design in which the spaces between the letters of one word form another word.


Natural: A natural ambigram is a word that possesses one or more of the above symmetries when written in its natural state, requiring no typographic styling (although sometimes font choice can play a role). For example, the words "dollop", "swims", "suns" and "pod" form natural rotational ambigrams when written in lowercase as does 곰 (bear) and 문 (door) in Korean. The word "bud" forms a natural mirror ambigram when reflected over a vertical axis, as do the capitilised words "BOX", "CHOICE" and "OXIDE", when reflected over a horizontal axis. Much like the words "HIM", "TOOTH", "MAXIMUM", "TOY" and "WHOM", form natural ambigrams when written in all capitals and their letters are stacked vertically and reflected over a vertical axis. 

The History of Ambigrams

 Although the term was only coined by cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter within the last century, Ambigrams were initially believed to have been created by John Langdon (famous for the Ambigramic 'Angels and Demons' movie and book title) In actual fact mirror ambigrams have existed since the first millenium: The oldest discovery, a sator square palindrome was found in the ruins of Pompeii and thought to have been created before 79 AD. Another carved into a stone wall in France was discovered to have been created sometime between the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages. It was also common practice in Ancient Greece for manuscripts and other inscriptions to be written in a  bi-directional manner with every other line of writing being reversed and mirrored.

Our reasoning for using Ambigrams?

Firstly we absolutely love creating them, the creative process is a bit like being both the creator and problem solver of a puzzle you have restricted control over. Some despite their seeming simplicity, a struggle, others complex yet materialising swiftly and unintentional, leading you in a direction unplanned. The final result surprisingly worth the struggle.

This somewhat autonomous materialisation ties in to the holistic methods of creation that we embody throughout most of what we do and how we try and live our lives. Linking to ideas of multipotentiality, the paradoxes of humanitys ability to shift perspectives and the ability for transformation of the self via the evolution of mind.

Creation of any sort tells esoteric tales that tie us to our shared historys, the growth of both civilizations and cultural communications. Typographic mark making and formations alude to the practices of the ancestors who have got us from where we were to where we are now.. and in creation, whichever form that may take, we celebrate and honor them.


 For your own Custom Creations:

 Check Out CaiyaMari.inspired.Designs on instagram or Pinterest 

Commissions welcome