The Latin, memento vivere, means literally "remember to live." These words would look wonderful as a tattoo, constantly reminding you of the beauty of life, of what it means to be truly alive and that you have to go on with life, whether how good or bad it can get.
This ambigram commissioned for Matt Ferguson requiring it to be read as "memento" on one side, and "vivere" on the other was a very challenging one. The ambigram would be very difficult to create because one, the letter count is unequal therefore there's no one-to-one correspondence with the letters. Second, the configuration of the letters is also unequal, with "memento" containing a greater number of long width letters (m's) and "vivere" with short ones (v's and i's). Matt even contemplated of doing an ambigram instead for each word, but I decided to push for combining both in one ambigram. I believe that there will always be a solution. It was simply a matter of time of finding it.
Initially, I knew the solution would require the use of a free-hand cursive font, so I sketched some ideas. It took an unusually long time and huge page allotment (the scanned pages here is only a fraction) experimenting with possible configurations.
After finding a suitable solution, I worked on digitizing it. After setting appropriate calligraphic pen parameters, I used a tablet to draw the strokes in, preserving the smooth lines of the original sketch. Matt liked the direction of the design. I then added optional flourishes, the circular frame, and a "twin" version.
As soon as Matt gave the final approval for the design, the design was eventually set in my signature parchment background.
Once a solution is discovered for a particular ambigram, the design may be modified to a variety of configurations. Although, the final design has been selected, I tried other configurations. You may very well observe that the solution involved the matching the whole word "vivere" with the "ement" component of "memento", with "m" and "o" rendered slightly differently from the rest (to make "vivere" stand out). I still like the the smooth free-flowing lines of the original design, but this configuration has the Victorian feel to it, which gives it a whole new personality of its own. When I have the time, I'd like to try out other possible configurations.
I truly appreciated the feedback provided by Matt during the creation of this ambigram. It was difficult but enjoyable nonetheless. Just like life. We may not have the ideal life we have wanted for ourselves, but there are always ways of making the best out of what we have, solutions to every question and problem we may face. Memento vivere!