Nagfa in the national papers
A few weeks later, the story was published in the Today paper (with our Gabriel-Lucifer ambigram) :
PLUS Friday May 8, 2009 TODAY
Local ambigram artists Nagfa urge you to take a second look at this art form May Seah firstname.lastname@example.org
HAVE you ever wished for a better way to pass secret messages so your boss would have no incriminating evidence to use against you?
Ask the Illuminati, an ancient secret society that used ambigrams to avoid persecution from their enemies in the Catholic church. At least, that’s the legend author Dan Brown builds upon in his novel, Angels & Demons — now a movie starring Tom Hanks as Professor Robert Langdon, a symbologist who must crack ambigram codes to save the world. Brown’s protagonist is named after John Langdon, the graphic artist who designed the ambigrams featured in the book.
An ambigram, or an inversion, is a graphical figure that spells out a word in its form as presented, and also in another direction or orientation. Naguib bin Ngadnan, a huge Dan Brown fan, is one who took up ambigram art after reading Angels and Demons. “I kept flipping the book upside down. It got me intrigued,” he told Today. “Most words can be turned into ambigrams. But some are more difficult than others, and some are virtually impossible. If you have an ‘I’ and you want to convert it into an ‘O’, it’d be very difficult.
“Different artists have different perception on ambigrams. John Langdon was into duality — everything exists because there is its opposite. Because I’m a Malay language teacher teaching in multiracial Singapore, I think perhaps the concept of duality could be about bilingualism. So some of my designs incorporate two words: One way it’s in English, turn it around, it’s in Malay.”
Naguib and his wife Fadilah bte Abdul Rahim formed Nagfa (an amalgamation of the first syllables of their names) and they’re two of a select few ambigram artists in Singapore. They first met about six years ago, while studying at the National Institute of Education. They designed ambigrams together, as gifts for their friends.
“I started to create ambigrams using (Fadilah’s) name. And our relationship, and the designs, evolved,” said Naguib.
“He’s always with plain paper and a pen,” said Fadilah, also a teacher. Yes, even when she was giving birth to their daughter, Nayla Najwa. “Two hours after she was born, I was already designing an ambigram,” Naguib said. “Our names, rotating into ‘mother’ and ‘father’.”
Now that’s dedication.
The couple have a blog where they sell their designs, and they also initiated the Nagfa Ambigram Competition, attracting participants from all over the world.
“We wanted the ambigram community to merge and interact,” Naguib said. “Every week we’d post one word and ask the artists to contribute solutions ... We even got John Langdon to post a challenge.”
He added: “Maybe ambigrams could become one of the mainstream forms of art. Like graffiti.” Visit http://nagfa.blogspot.com/ for more ambigram information. Angels and Demons hits the screens on May 14.
(Angels and ambigrams Word up ... side down (Top) Naguib with his wife Fadilah and daughter Nayla. (Bottom) An ambigram of the name ‘Gabriel-Lucifer’ by Nagfa.