Ambigrams into Smargibma

If you like games, love type, and play type games, John Langdon may be your favorite typographical gamesman with his ambigrams (examples top and bottom)–they’re like typographic palindromes. He is also an inspiration for Da Vinci Code writer Dan Brown’s latest movie Angels & Demons–well, kind of.

Here’s the story from the type master’s mouth: “In ’92, Dan Brown’s (mathematician) father bought a copy of [Langdon’s book] Wordplay, and sent me an admiring letter. We corresponded for a while, and eventually he asked me to do an ambigram of “Angels & Demons” for his son’s next CD. Dan was, at the time, a singer/songwriter, but not for long. He gave up that career and began writing novels, naming his second one Angels & Demons (published in 2000). He asked me for permission to use the ambigram again, and a few weeks later said he’d like me to create some ambigrams to use in the story. He never gave me a hint as to what the story was about. Later, apparently in appreciation, he called to tell me he would name the main character after me.”

“In the book, he didn’t seem to be quite as good-looking as me, but in the movie that seems to have changed,” Langdon adds. “Robert Langdon’s astonishing ability to solve puzzles is way beyond mine, but more on a par with Dan’s ability to create them.” Throughout the film there are ambigram references, so check it out next month when it’s out. (And see Print‘s review of Langdon’s typeface Flexion here.)

What type of type games do you play? Don’t be shy in the comments!

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.

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