Biography

Biography

A formally harmonious product needs no decoration, it should be elevated through pure form.
— Ferdinand Porsche

John-Langdon_pic

Select Clients

AARP, Aerosmith, Alive in Theory, Aman Ashraff, American Board of Internal Medicine, Aquarius Advisers, Benchmark Asset Managers, Blacksmith Music, Cupsogue Pictures, Dan Brown, Dell, DirecTV, Flipscript, The Guthrie School, Hari Kiran, Honeywell, Jefferson Starship, John Mayer, Lovekraft, Martellotto Vineyards, Nike, Soleil Fine Arts, Sony Pictures, Typedia.com, Will Shortz

AMBIGRAMS PUBLISHED IN

OMNIVerbatimStep into Design;  Symmetry: Culture and Science ISIS Symmetry; Diagraphics Japanese Creators Association­­; The Design JournalThe Art Center, Seoul, Korea; Inversions Scott Kim, W.H. Freeman; Can You Believe Your Eyes Block & Yuker, Gardner Press; The Paradox Principle Dermot Barrett, AMACOM Books; Angels & Demons Dan Brown, Simon & Schuster; The Night Is Large Martin Gardner, St. Martin’s Press; Katachi U Symmetry Tohru Ogowa, Springer, Hong Kong; Language Play David Crystal, Penguin, England; Thinking Through Science John Murray Publishers, London; Eye Twisters Burkard Polster, Constable; Decoding Design Maggie Macnab, How Books; Design by Nature Maggie Macnab, New Riders; Ambigrams Revealed Nikita Prokhorov, New Riders; The Art of the Illusion Brad Honeycutt & Terry Stickels, Imagine Publishing; The Book of One Dennis Waite O-Books

FOREWORDS WRITTEN FOR

Eye Twisters by Burkard Polster, Constable; Calligraffiti by Niels “Shoe” Muelman & Adam Eeuwens, From Here To Fame Publishing; Fading Ads of Philadelphia by Lawrence O’Toole, The History Press; The Art of Deception by Brad Honeycutt, Imagine! Publishing

AMBIGRAMS SHOWN ON

‘Good Morning America’ (ABC) 1987
‘Beyond Belief’(FOX) 1998

TALKS AND PRESENTATIONS

International Society for the
Interdisciplinary Study of Symmetry
Society of Scribes
Agnes Irwin School
Drexel University
Mensa, Delaware Valley chapter
University of Delaware
Society for Personality Assessment
Kean University
University of Macedon Greece
The Westtown School
TEDx, Drexel University

ARTICLES WRITTEN FOR

Typographic I
Society of Scribes Newsletter
Symmetry: Culture and Science
The Quest
Critique
Philadelphia AIGA Newsletter
Step into Design
Bank Note Reporter

Inquiries

To make a purchase or to commission an ambigram, logo, or painting, email me  at wordplay@johnlangdon.net

John Langdon is an artist, an independent graphic designer, a writer, and Typography professor at Drexel University. He is best known for his ambigrams, most notably those in Dan Brown’s best-selling novel, Angels & Demons. John’s forte is making abstract concepts visual, almost always through the design of words, letters, and symbols.

Ambigrams. Logos. Words as art. As both an artist and a graphic designer, I specialize in the visual presentation of words. Language, philosophy, and science are interwoven into the design of words, which are manipulated to create surprising illusions. This unique approach culminates in a wide variety of corporate logos, and in ambigrams — words that can be read equally well from more than one point of view. Most of my ambigrams read the same when turned “upside down,” or rotated 180 degrees.

I was an English major. That left things pretty open. I worked in the photo-lettering department of a type house. I got an excellent graphic design education from the pages of art directors annuals and design publications. After a few years at a Philadelphia design studio, I began freelancing in 1977 as a logo designer, type specialist, and lettering artist. I have taught typography and corporate identity design, at Moore College of Art from 1985-88, and since 1988 at The College of Media Arts and Design at Drexel University.

Little by little I brought together my interests in language, symmetry, illusion, philosophy, and physics. My strongest influences along the way were Salvador Dali, the cubists, M.C. Escher, Rene Magritte, the psychedelic poster artists (especially Rick Griffin), and Herb Lubalin. My graphic investigations of the yin/yang symbol led to my re-discovery of the ancient Chinese philosophy Taoism, and has informed most of my work in one way or another. Writers who I have found inspirational include Edgar Allan Poe, Ogden Nash, John Barth, and Tom Robbins.

In the early 70s, trying to do with words what Dali and Escher did with images, I invented (or discovered) what came to be known as “ambigrams.” In 1980, I discovered that Scott Kim had invented them, too, almost at the same time. The editor who wanted to publish my ambigrams seemed to think that a book needed text as well, so I dragged my writer self out of the closet, and Wordplay was published in 1992.

Since 1995 I have taken my visual-verbal meditations and manipulations to canvas. My paintings still involve symmetry and illusion, a bit of philosophy, and a few puns thrown in for good measure.

John Langdon is an artist, an independent graphic designer, a writer, and Typography professor at Drexel University. He is best known for his ambigrams, most notably those in Dan Brown’s best-selling novel, Angels & Demons. John’s forte is making abstract concepts visual, almost always through the design of words, letters, and symbols.

Ambigrams. Logos. Words as art. As both an artist and a graphic designer, I specialize in the visual presentation of words. Language, philosophy, and science are interwoven into the design of words, which are manipulated to create surprising illusions. This unique approach culminates in a wide variety of corporate logos, and in ambigrams — words that can be read equally well from more than one point of view. Most of my ambigrams read the same when turned “upside down,” or rotated 180 degrees.

I was an English major. That left things pretty open. I worked in the photo-lettering department of a type house. I got an excellent graphic design education from the pages of art directors annuals and design publications. After a few years at a Philadelphia design studio, I began freelancing in 1977 as a logo designer, type specialist, and lettering artist. I have taught typography and corporate identity design, at Moore College of Art from 1985-88, and since 1988 at The College of Media Arts and Design at Drexel University.

Little by little I brought together my interests in language, symmetry, illusion, philosophy, and physics. My strongest influences along the way were Salvador Dali, the cubists, M.C. Escher, Rene Magritte, the psychedelic poster artists (especially Rick Griffin), and Herb Lubalin. My graphic investigations of the yin/yang symbol led to my re-discovery of the ancient Chinese philosophy Taoism, and has informed most of my work in one way or another. Writers who I have found inspirational include Edgar Allan Poe, Ogden Nash, John Barth, and Tom Robbins.

In the early 70s, trying to do with words what Dali and Escher did with images, I invented (or discovered) what came to be known as “ambigrams.” In 1980, I discovered that Scott Kim had invented them, too, almost at the same time. The editor who wanted to publish my ambigrams seemed to think that a book needed text as well, so I dragged my writer self out of the closet, and Wordplay was published in 1992.

Since 1995 I have taken my visual-verbal meditations and manipulations to canvas. My paintings still involve symmetry and illusion, a bit of philosophy, and a few puns thrown in for good measure.

John-Langdon_pic

Select Clients

AARP, Aerosmith, Alive in Theory, Aman Ashraff, American Board of Internal Medicine, Aquarius Advisers, Benchmark Asset Managers, Blacksmith Music, Cupsogue Pictures, Dan Brown, Dell, DirecTV, Flipscript, The Guthrie School, Hari Kiran, Honeywell, Jefferson Starship, John Mayer, Lovekraft, Martellotto Vineyards, Nike, Soleil Fine Arts, Sony Pictures, Typedia.com, Will Shortz

AMBIGRAMS PUBLISHED IN

OMNIVerbatimStep into Design;  Symmetry: Culture and Science ISIS Symmetry; Diagraphics Japanese Creators Association­­; The Design JournalThe Art Center, Seoul, Korea; Inversions Scott Kim, W.H. Freeman; Can You Believe Your Eyes Block & Yuker, Gardner Press; The Paradox Principle Dermot Barrett, AMACOM Books; Angels & Demons Dan Brown, Simon & Schuster; The Night Is Large Martin Gardner, St. Martin’s Press; Katachi U Symmetry Tohru Ogowa, Springer, Hong Kong; Language Play David Crystal, Penguin, England; Thinking Through Science John Murray Publishers, London; Eye Twisters Burkard Polster, Constable; Decoding Design Maggie Macnab, How Books; Design by Nature Maggie Macnab, New Riders; Ambigrams Revealed Nikita Prokhorov, New Riders; The Art of the Illusion Brad Honeycutt & Terry Stickels, Imagine Publishing; The Book of One Dennis Waite O-Books

FOREWORDS WRITTEN FOR

Eye Twisters by Burkard Polster, Constable; Calligraffiti by Niels “Shoe” Muelman & Adam Eeuwens, From Here To Fame Publishing; Fading Ads of Philadelphia by Lawrence O’Toole, The History Press; The Art of Deception by Brad Honeycutt, Imagine! Publishing

AMBIGRAMS SHOWN ON

‘Good Morning America’ (ABC) 1987
‘Beyond Belief’(FOX) 1998

TALKS AND PRESENTATIONS

International Society for the
Interdisciplinary Study of Symmetry
Society of Scribes
Agnes Irwin School
Drexel University
Mensa, Delaware Valley chapter
University of Delaware
Society for Personality Assessment
Kean University
University of Macedon Greece
The Westtown School
TEDx, Drexel University

ARTICLES WRITTEN FOR

Typographic I
Society of Scribes Newsletter
Symmetry: Culture and Science
The Quest
Critique
Philadelphia AIGA Newsletter
Step into Design
Bank Note Reporter

Inquiries

To make a purchase or to commission an ambigram, logo, or painting, email me  at wordplay@johnlangdon.net