Tattoo Ideas: Ambigram Tattoos
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 right-side up or upside down. It can be the same word read either way, or it may be one word right-side 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.
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.
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 article, 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.