If Da Vinci was a typeface, he'd be Craig Black & Pedro Arilla's Renaissance for Monotype

Today sees the release of FS Renaissance, a new display stencil typeface from Monotype developed from a collaboration between lettering artist and designer Craig Black and Pedro Arilla, a creative type director at Monotype Studio.

Each letter of the single style font was crafted as a standalone piece of art, while working harmoniously together as a functioning typeface, making FS Renaissance a font which explores the intersection between art and design.


The initial idea for the project came from Craig Black who had been working on a typeface inspired by the Renaissance period symbolised by flourishing progress in the arts, sciences, learning, and philosophy. He was particularly interested in the so-called ‘Renaissance Man/Woman’, a term coined in reference to some of the most talented artists, inventors, scientists, and thinkers who were the drivers of the period: like Leonardo Da Vinci, who was known as a painter but was also a scientist, engineer, and mathematician.

This concept of multifaceted skill and inspirational thinking was combined with a modern influence of stencil typography. He approached Fontsmith (now part of the Monotype Studio) about a collaboration to take his idea to the next level and create a fully functioning typeface. 


"When I first saw Craig’s design it was love at first sight,” said Arilla. "I knew Craig’s work pretty well and even though I was expecting to be surprised, I didn’t see this coming. There is something magnificent about it, when I look at it I can see a real fluidity, the letters look like they are dancing with the light.

"FS Renaissance is a display typeface with elegant contours and an ageless demeanour. Paraphrasing Napoleon: from the heights of these letter-shapes, five typographic centuries look down on us."


FS Renaissance is not a traditional stencil design: the cuts are not rigid but interactions that are hand crafted between each element, emphasising the idea of a typeface as a piece of art or sculpture. Arilla’s aim was to take the core DNA of Craig's work and apply it to a typographic base with a solid internal consistency, balanced with an external elegance. The pair worked closely together to make sure the original concept was not compromised. 

"Being a modern day Renaissance man doesn’t mean you have to be an accomplished poet or master sculptor,” said Black. “Rather, it means being as open to the world as possible and embracing all opportunities as they come your way. It means learning as much as you possibly can. It means travelling and seeing the world, experiencing its people, and learning its language. It means not being afraid to be who you are and feel comfortable in your own skin.


"These characteristics influence my own nature and I wanted to represent this through a typeface therefore FS Renaissance was created.”

To celebrate the launch of the new font, Black created a series of handmade typographic sculptures that were photographed by Susan Castillo. The images, like the one below, encapsulate the spirit of the project, showcasing the letterforms as pieces of physical art.


Tune in Thursday June 11 at 11:30 am ET/4:30 pm BST for an Instagram Live conversation between Black and Arilla to learn more about how FS Renaissance came about, and try the font yourself on the Monotype site.

Related: Craig on How Independent Creatives Can Survive the Coronavirus Crisis

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