Or Illuminatus I should say, as Ilustrado is Spanish and Filipino for “enlightened one”.
The Inspiration. Standing up against the colonizer, Filipino Propangandistas in the late 1800s -among them Jose Rizal- called themselves, Illustrados. These were young middle class men, fortunate to have studied and lived in Europe, who’s newly acquired knowledge and understanding enabled them to see and experience life far different from and more than what the Spaniards offered back home. In time, however, Ilustrado came to mean something other than being learned. As these middle class became key society figures and rich landowners, Ilustrado became synonymous to being wealthy, powerful, influential or elite. Privileged. I created this ambigram with the original definition in mind.
Creating the Ambigram. In a way, it took me more than nine months to finally finish this. As prior to settling with the word/phrase, I was trying out other ways of doing “Illuminati”. But because John Langdon’s work was impeccable, I knew there was no way I could come up with a “better original” if there could ever be such. Anything would still fall short, no matter how “creative” I try. December of 2011, I decided to try Ilustrado instead, inspired by the propagandistas. Turned out it was a lot more difficult to do than Illuminatti. It could be done, yes, but the trouble was- no matter how I tried, the flips I come up with seemed not good enough to be associated with the word. I had to find a “more creative” way to solve this puzzle. And trying to be “more creative” left me feeling just the opposite. I was stumped.
I was supposed to include Ilustrado among my “Revealed” submissions, so I re-worked on it. Sadly though, I just can’t finish it and even then, I don’t like my initial version. I was still stuck on the first two glyphs! So, it’s a no“go”. In between ambigrams I sneak in a sketch or two, trying to solve this puzzle. My biggest concern was the “I-L/O” correlation. I knew if I can get passed this, I can manage the other glyphs.
Aha moment came mid-November (2012).
Although I was already adding the “d” to the equation, earlier sketches weren’t as “put together” as this. Turning the “O” into a tail for the “I” was crucial. Add to that, a curve from behind to supply the tittle for the “I” would have to be done with subtlety. I knew I will have to to apply some tricky “overlapping/layering” tricks to “sell” the design.
I took my time tracing the pencils (especially since I had missed “Revealed’s” deadline by four(?) months then) as I tend (always!) to over think and overdo it and end up with different looking versions. It looked good. Except for the “U/A” flip, the crossbar in place was not helping and there is still something odd with the way strokes connect.
Solving this took an extra week! How I thought of removing the crossbar and replacing it with a diacritic then tilting one side of the “U/A” strokes a few degrees out- I don’t recall, but I almost banged my head on my keyboard for that belated action. That tilt did wonders! I almost decided on taking out the tittle of the “I” as I thought maybe I should avoid the mixed cases, but hold off on it as then I realized without that tittle, the curve that serves as the “D” bowl would be rendered moot. [Now I’m second guessing myself.] And since the design already look a bit complex, I thought it’d be best to just add very little embellishments.
In writing this piece I tried to look for the early designs studies to add to the developmental presentation but all I could find were the one above and this below.