Friday, February 29, 2008

NAC January 2008 Kevin Pease (Everything Shakespeare)

After a long wait - we were looking for oasis of free time to get this done but we're in an eternal desert-life - here it is, for our patient visitors and friends: the compilations of the design entries for Kevin Pease-nagfa NAC. For the benefit of first timer visitors, we, nagfa, organize (usually) regular ambigram challenges and for the month of January 2008, the Guest Challenger was Kevin Pease of USA. The theme posed was 'Everything Shakespeare'. Before we present the entries proper, a design from the Guest Challenger himself:
rosencratz and guildenstern are dead
Without further ado, the rest of the entries with review by Kevin Pease. Enjoy:
For me personally, the theme of Shakespeare represented an apt segue from the previous "White Rabbit", as I was to attend what proved to be an outstanding illusion-filled production of my favorite Shakespeare play, Macbeth, on Lewis Carroll's birthday, known to some as Rabbit Hole Day. Only after choosing this theme for the challenge and seeing it announced did I start work on my own example, a line from Hamlet, also the title of my favorite Shakespeare play that wasn't written by Shakespeare. Impressive entries all, and I mean all.
Let's start with the winner, a Midsummer Night's Dream. It is legible, ambitious, elegant and attractive. It captures the imagination. The decoration enhances the ambigram rather than distracting from it. Nastybasty is the new Guest Challenger.

'midsummer night's dream' by nastybasty (germany)

However, this was a close finish. Equally deserving is Much Ado About Nothing. Robert Maitland achieves an amazingly legible result with such difficult pairs as O/N, A/T, and M/G using only straight lines.
'much ado about nothing' by robert maitland (canada)
An honorable mention goes to Scalpod's darkly whimsical Rosencrantz/Guildenstern rotation. There is a sort of self-effacing humor in the directness of the G/Z solution, and I think this is a big part of why it works.
'rosencrantz-guildenstern' by scalpod (usa)
On to categories! Praise is due everyone who decided to take on Romeo and Juliet, for they are a difficult pair. Tom Banwell takes Best Romeo & Juliet with his smart reflection, which is clear and simple. Merfat's use of a heart shape for eo/J is charmingly inventive, but the o/i doesn't quite stick. Jeraz makes an inventive and effective o/i with a male symbol; however, the accompanying female symbol appears to create "Romeo Not Juliet". I would recommend removing the N and closing the space with just one O in the center, leaving "+" to serve as "and". While Charles Madrid's is quite rough, I have to be impressed with any attempt at an O/J that is even moderately successful. Alberto's Montesco/Capuleto, which I gather is a translation of the family names, is for the most part nice and sharp, but the s is a bit awkward and thin for the style, and "ul" reads "lu" which may be insurmountable.
'romeo-juliet' by tom banwell (usa)
'romeo and juliet' by merfat (chile)
'romeo and juliet' by charles madrid (philippines)
'romeo n juliet' by jeraz (india)
'montesco-capuleto' by alberto portacio (colombia)
I commend the ambition of those who tackled whole lines and passages. Like many ambitious characters of Shakespeare's, they may have bitten off more than they can chew. Perhaps inevitably, the longest were extremely difficult to read. I appreciate all the hard work and ideas that went into Paavo Pirinen's and Manidipa's entries, and they might hereafter be rendered legible with careful tweaking and polishing that you wouldn't have had time for before the challenge's deadline. I had no trouble reading Jen Hill's, and there are a lot of clever tricks in it, but that O/me ... ouch. If the color was an attempt to make it into something, I don't know what it is. Of the long entires, apart from the winning titles, Krzysztof Sliwa's "More matter with less art" is the most clear and elegant. I first read "more" as "muse", but this can be easily fixed.
'something wicked this way comes' by jennifer hill (usa)
'the best in this kind are but shadows, and the worst are no worse, if imagination amend them' by paavo pirinen (finland)
'what's doen is done' & 'patch grief with proverbs' by manidipa (new zealand)
'more matter with less art' by krzysztof sliwa (poland)
Now to those who decided to do the name of Shakespeare himself. There are different ways to measure merit here. Nagfa's and Merfat's most clearly say "Shakespeare". One of Scalpod's reads "Shakelspeare", which could be remedied with a different e/p. Jose Manuel Perez has "Shadespeare", and could learn from the examples of Merfat and Scalpod how better to hide that loop on the k. Dan Schmidt takes a different tack, naming him the Bard of... Fueg? Oh, Avon. Tough one there, but nice style at least. Derren Lee Poole gives us the most expertly designed curves out of all the entries in the challenge, fine typographically-informed craftsmanship that doesn't need to be propped up with clip art. Still, it appears to read "Shakespeake", which can be easily fixed by simply trimming off that flourish.
'bard of avon' by dan schmidt (usa)
'shakespeare' by derren lee poole (usa)
'shakespeare' by merfat (chile)
'shakespeare' by jose manuel perez (spain)
'shakespeare' by nagfa (singapore)
'shakespeare' by scalpod (usa)

'shakespeare' by scalpod (usa)

This leaves the short names. As I said before, most of these solutions are kind of self-evident, particularly Macbeth, but there are still surprises. The easily read a/e in Nagfa's Macbeth reflection makes me think that with a few alterations, it could potentially be made into a rare all-symmetries ambigram (rotation and two perpendicular axes of reflection). Juan Luis Roldan uses clever reordering in his Hamlet reflection, tucking the a under the H. The K/R in Txescu's King Lear is a fascinating shape. Two similar solutions are presented for Yorick, but I think Homero's subtle elegance stands above Scalpod's heavy embellishment here. Diego Colombo's presentation for both his entries is particularly pleasant.
'macbeth' by diego colombo (italy)
'macbeth' by nagfa (singapore)
'macbeth' by charles madrid (philippines)
'hamlet' by juan luis roldan (spain)
'hamlet' by charles madrid (philippines)
'hamlet' by rico frans (indonesia)
'othello' by tom banwell (usa)
'yorick' by homero larrain (chile)
'yorick' by scalpod (usa)
'king lear' by txescu (catalunia)
'king lear' by diego colombo (italy)
'cardenio' by txescu (catalunia)
'julius caesar' by txescu (catalunia)
The shortest entry is the only oscillation, Scalpod's "short shrift", a term that comes from Richard III. A simple idea, but it certainly works, and probably wasn't as easy as it looks.
'short shrift' by scalpod (usa)
Thanks and a good-natured ribbing to our hosts Nagfa, who apparently confused Juliet's "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet" with "A rose is a rose is a rose," which was written not by William Shakespeare but by Gertrude Stein!
'a rose is a rose is a rose' by nagfa (singapore) *oooops. heee :p
Kevin Pease
nagfa extend humblest apologies for the delay of the posting. We would like to also thank all artists who had made this another succesful ambigram outing, and we reserve our biggest thanks to Kevin Pease, who had been a joy to collaborate with, what with his patience, passion and professionalism. Thank you.
For the winner - NastyBasty - we will be contacting you soon.

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Blogger Juan Luis said...

What a great collection! Congratulations to all (and specially to the winner). Great work!

4:20 PM  
Anonymous txescu said...

All the pieces are amazing. I'm particularly impressed by the longer ones, specially krzysztof's.

I hope to see more of that great ambigrams in the next NAC!!!


9:07 PM  
Blogger Progressive Letters said...

gratz everyone for another succesful ambigram challenge, and also to sir nasty basty, thanks to nagfa for serving this kind of challenge for us


12:06 AM  
Blogger scalpod said...

Wonderful work everyone! I was staggered by the quantity, quality and variety of entries for this challenge?!

Love and gratitude to nafga for always being such gracious, inspiring hosts.

4:41 AM  

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