Tattoo Ideas: Ambigram Tattoos

Updated on January 25, 2016
Philosophy/Art & Science
Philosophy/Art & Science

When I first read Angels & Demons by Dan Brown, I was amazed at the artistic talent used to design the several ambigrams displayed throughout the book. At the end, when an ambigram for "earth, air, water, fire" is revealed, I was blown away. An ambigram is a typographical design where a word or phrase has a meaning whether it's viewed rightside up or upside down. It can be the same word read either way, or it may be one word rightside up and a totally different word upside down. There are many different types of ambigrams (rotational, three-dimensional, perceptual shift, and even multi-lingual, which can be read one way in one language and another way in a different language.) Exactly how ambigrams are created is way beyond my comprehension, I'm sure it involves brilliance and/or some computer program. All I really know is that they look awesome and have become a very popular tattoo design over the recent years. I also know that rapper Talib Kweli mentions the concept in one of his songs where he sings, "Turn the game upside down like an ambigram." You really shouldn't need any proof of their awesomeness beyond that!

Mirror-image Ambigrams: the same word read both ways

Mirror-image ambigrams are designs that can be read when reflected in a mirror--they read as the same word or phrase either way you look at it.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Glass door Ambigrams: different words different ways

A variation of mirror-images are "glass door" ambigrams, designs that form different words or phrases depending on which direction they're viewed. They are given this term because they can be printed on a glass door to be read differently when entering or exiting.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Angel/DevilFamily/ForeverFalse/TrueFriends/FamilyDeath/LifeSaint/SinnerWerewolf/VampireCreate/DestroyLove/HateTrust/Truth
Angel/Devil
Angel/Devil
Family/Forever
Family/Forever
False/True
False/True
Friends/Family
Friends/Family
Death/Life
Death/Life
Saint/Sinner
Saint/Sinner
Werewolf/Vampire
Werewolf/Vampire
Create/Destroy
Create/Destroy
Love/Hate
Love/Hate
Trust/Truth
Trust/Truth
Jackson
Jackson

Chain Ambigrams

A chain ambigram is a design where the words are interlinked, usually in the form of a circle. Letters are often overlapped, so one word will start partway through the other word. I've seen this type of tattoo mostly done with people's names, though I'm sure it exists other ways as well. Symmetry is essential when getting a chain ambigram tattoo.


Getting an ambigram design is easy--there's a ton of websites catering to such needs. The key is finding a good, solid tattoo artist (I stress the word artist) who can execute it. Spacing and size are key to making sure the tattoo reads perfectly and is easy on the eyes when viewed in either direction. I came across a lot of ambigram tattoos while researching info for this hub, and many of them made my eyeballs burn. I definitely encourage you to put effort into finding someone who can create a tattoo people can actually read.

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Elisha 

        7 years ago

        I have a "love-hate" ambigram tattoo on my foot & have gotten many compliments on it... Just another idea.

      • profile image

        tattoo wow 

        7 years ago

        this is so eye opening i love it. i saw the same thing on my url thing. cool

      • profile image

        Tattolover 

        7 years ago

      • diogenes profile image

        diogenes 

        7 years ago from UK and Mexico

        By, Google loves you! I wasn't even on hubpages and they picked you quickly in Latin phrases.

        Here's one "Ubi bene ibi patria" "Where one feels good, there is one's country"

        Bob I think I'll follow you as I found your site so serendipitously.

      • Astra Nomik profile image

        Cathy Nerujen 

        7 years ago from Edge of Reality and Known Space

        What an amazing tattoo optical illusion. That is awesome. Thank you.

      • profile image

        TattoGuy 

        7 years ago

        It definitely was awesome for sure Jaclyn, it's always worth the wait on one of your tattoo hubs. Cheers for another beauty, enjoy your weekend !

      • tgopfrich profile image

        tgopfrich 

        7 years ago from Stettler, AB

        This was awesome! I have actually never thought of getting an ambigram tattoo. I think I will definitely have to make one of my next one's one. :)

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