Hello, Creative Enthusiasts,

“I came and went through the doors of perception so often that they just started leaving them open for me.”

We’ve all had them – those favorite teachers in our past, whether it was from college or grade school, this subject or that subject. My latest post here at Giant Leaps Creative, I would like to honor one of my favorite teachers from my college days at Drexel University, John Langdon. John was my laid-back, super “cool”, but wow-did-he-know-his-stuff typography / graphic design teacher. When I was young, scared, nervous, wondering if I chose the correct profession / major, John helped me feel at ease in my decision, and made everything about learning graphic design and typography fun, challenging and exciting. I knew I would always remember him, and always have.

I went about my career, climbing my way up the corporate ladder, leading all the way up to starting my own graphic design studio here at Giant Leaps Creative, and I attribute much of my success to the wonderful people like John who helped guide me here, cheering me on every step of the way. And I thank every single person that has had a positive influence on me. 

I have one very fond moment of my career I had no idea had anything to do with my career at all. I was dating my husband at the time who told me one of his favorite books of all time was Angels and Demons. So one Sunday, I borrowed his copy of the book while he ran errands and did chores. From that moment on, I was glued to the couch, turning page after exciting page. I barely got up to eat or use the facilities. I was enamored with both the story and these gorgeous, mesmerizing ambigrams that were woven into the story. (Ambigrams are works of art that read the same upside down as they do right-side up – and in the book, they were “chilling” and frightful, as much as they were beautiful.) They spoke to me partly because I had studied ambigrams at Drexel under John Langdon. When I graduated, John had given me a signed copy of his new at the time book entitled “Wordplay” which of course had an ambigram right on the cover. I will admit here that I never read the book, but did page through it to look at all of the pretty pictures, as artists often do. I still have it on my bookshelf in my office / studio to this day.

I found it quite curious as I furiously read the book that the main character had the same last name as my esteemed teacher. Hmmm, I kept reading. Another mind-blowing ambigram, and then another. My mind was racing. Could it be? After I was about two thirds of the way through the book, I couldn’t take it any longer. I fast forwarded to the end to see if there were any credits. And lo and behold, a man with my teacher’s namesake was credited with creating all of the ambigrams for the book. It had to be my teacher! I screamed upstairs to tell the news and my suspicions to my boyfriend (who was soon to become my husband later on in life). We were both so excited, me especially of course. I finished the book with even more interest, which was hard to do. Frankly, this is also one of my favorite books of all time now, and in my humble opinion, it is much better than The Da Vinci Code, which Dan Brown is even more famous for writing. Please pick up a copy and give yourself a treat, if you like that sort of thing. 

Here is an excerpt from John’s website that describes what I discovered that day as I was mesmerized by both the beautiful typography and the main character’s name:

Robert Langdon is an amalgam of many people I admire. In the early 1990′s, I first saw the art work of John Langdon. John is an artist and philosopher, a close friend of my father and, I think, one of our true geniuses. He is most famous for his ability to create “ambigrams” – words that read the same both right side up and up side down (see, for example, his book Wordplay. John’s art changed the way I think about symmetry, symbols, and art – he looks at [everything] from different perspectives. I was so impressed by the artwork of John Langdon that I commissioned him to create an album cover for my new CD of music (called Angels & Demons), which dealt with many of the religious themes that already interested me. John did the artwork, and the CD was released in 1999 with John’s ambigram on the cover. Later, when I published a novel of the same name, Simon & Schuster used the same ambigram on the hardcover edition.

John and his name were part of the inspiration for the protagonist of Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon) who also appears in The Da Vinci Code and in my next, as yet unpublished, book. John also created the ambigrams used in Angels & Demons. I commissioned him to create ambigrams for the word “illuminati”, as well as the Illuminati diamond — the fusion of the elements, earth, air, fire and water, which represents the fusion of science and religion historically, and features in Angels & Demons.

– Dan Brown

Thank you, John Langdon, for being such an inspirational teacher, mentor and friend. And thanks for always cheering me on in both my life and my career from afar. I think it is important for you to know how much you have touched my mind and my heart. Sending much happy karma and good thoughts your way. And thank you, Facebook for making it so easy for me to keep tabs on some of my favorite people of all time, and connecting us again.

To learn more about John and his work, please visit:

To your creative endeavors!
Onward and upward.

Cathy Broadwell
Giant Leaps Creative LLC