Dual-Meaning Typography – Art, Designs and Illusions

Love / Hate

    I don't want your (stu)pi(di)ty.

    (Image by Peter Sebastian, the master of dual-meaning typography)

    What is Dual-meaning Typography?

    When you give some serious thought to design, whether on the web or hard copy, the ultimate goal is communication. And without the art of typography, communication would be extremely difficult, if not altogether impossible.

    Ah, you are thinking: Well, DUH; of course; how obvious! Most of the world reads and writes; type and fonts are obvious communicators. And you would be absolutely correct because most of the ways we use typography are obvious. Areas such as print, newsletters, posters, etc. are all around us and have been for centuries.

    Also, in today’s world we enjoy the web, which gives instant access to the Internet and the millions of opportunities for sending and receiving huge quantities of communication.

    Typography as Art

    But not only is there the printed word, there is also typography art that encompasses enchanting works of art, all designed and molded entirely from type. This is a form of instant communication that is as intriguing as it is pleasant to the eye. Who could have ever imagined letters of various fonts arranged in ways that create pictures of a thoughtful Einstein or of beautiful peacocks showing their feathers?

    Dual-Meaning Word Designs

    One of the fun areas of typography that we can enjoy today is works of typography art that have dual-meanings. For instance, there are T-shirts or logos that one can buy with the word “Hate” embroidered across the front, however, if you stand close to a mirror wearing this shirt, the typography has been designed so that backwards the word reflected is “Love.”

    Love / Hate

    In one clever design, “Good” is spelled out in black, while “Evil” is subtly spaced directly within the original word in white. One current word illusion is a design that has the word “Teach” floating in water; but its upside down reflection spells “Learn.”

    Teach / Learn

    Dual-Meaning Typography Art

    One very well done piece of dual-meaning typography is a series of pictures; each is a face made of only two words. One is of a famous world personality; the top of his head spells peace, while the bottom of his face spells war. The pictures are well done and the words are not obvious at first.

    Tank Words - Dual Meaning Typography

    Typography as Dual-Meaning Illusions

    Of course there are many samples of dual-meaning typography in word illusions. Typography illusions are often the ones that seem to be one thing, but on close examination are actually something else. Sometimes, dual-meaning typography comes in problem-solving illusions, with answers that are obvious only after you have figured out the illusion puzzle.

    Good/Bad, Right/Wrong, Dirty/Clean, In/Out

    Dual-Meaning Typography: Play on Words

    There are also dual-meanings that exhibit a clever play on words which are strictly typography terms. For instance, you might see a desktop or T-shirt with the saying: “Cambria is not my type.” Or “I’ll buy one comic, sans type.”

    You'll Never Be Apart Of/From Me


    (Image by Peter Kay)

    So, as you search the Internet, communicating with friends or business associates, take a little time to notice all the various and subtle ways that typography is used to communicate ideas, art, and interesting illusions with smart dual meanings. You’ll have great fun and learn a lot, all at the same time.


    1. says

      I must admit this is truly awesome. i never came across one nor have I ever used it before but can be good to use in logos to signify dual meanings.

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