"Beauty" and the Ambigram

Anyone who is around me for long enough will get hints of my lifelong obsession: music from the '60's and '70's.  I also happen to have a large vinyl LP collection (some bought, some given to me, and some loaned to me).  There is something wonderful about not only the sound of records, but also the visual and tactile inspection of their covers.  Being so much larger than a CD cover, designers could put more graphics on the covers or simply wow people with broad expanses of pristine minimalism (the Beatles "White Album" being one).  One of my favorite covers is that of the Grateful Dead album "American Beauty," which is at the height of psychedelic art.

When I first saw this cover I thought it said "American Reality" instead of "American Beauty."  I at first thought that this was just something boneheaded on my part, but I was intrigued enough to research it.  Look at the diagrams below to see the two words in the same design.

Turns out that this was indeed deliberate and that the design at the bottom forms an ambigram. An ambigram is a graphic element that spells out more than just one word and can oftentimes do so only by changing the orientation of the graphic (however, this is not the case with this album cover, for both words can be seen when viewing it from the same direction).  The ambigram has a long history going back to early experimentation during the 19th century, but was not given this term until the 1980's.

This cover was produced by Mouse-Kelley Studios, and was the creation of psychedelic designers and ideals of the late '60's/early '70's.  Their experimentation with the ambigram has led to what I deem Creative Use of Type.