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Miscellaneous > 17.1 Original Typeface – Text

FS Brabo

by Fontsmith

Fernando Mello’s classical serifed font began to emerge in 2012 while he was studying an expert type design course run by Frank Blokland by the Plantin Institute for Typography. The course took place in the hallowed Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp, Belgium which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and houses the two oldest surviving printing presses in the world, and a priceless archive of typographical and artistic material. It would take another three years for Fernando to complete his work on the typeface, first in the Fontsmith studio and, finally, in Brazil. Its place of origin – and long, taxing resolution – led to the name: Brabo, after the Roman hero of legend who battled for days to liberate Antwerp from the tyranny of the evil giant, Antigoon. Fernando’s starting point was the genre of 16th century typefaces that he encountered in the Plantin-Moretus Museum, inspired by broad-nibbed calligraphy. Visible in Brabo’s proportions is the influence of punch-cutters such as Claude Garamond, Robert Granjon and others, and the book-oriented class of typefaces known as garaldes (a portmanteau of Garamond and Aldus [Manutius]), which display finer proportions than the earlier humanist faces. Brabo is very much a personal interpretation of a garalde – a contemporary typeface family designed to bring a beautifully bookish personality to hardworking modern applications. It doesn’t intend to be a revival or a mere reproduction of a classic design, but brings some freshness and authenticity to these models. The contrast in stroke width in FS Brabo, not as pronounced as in typical 16th century fonts, allied to the presence of generous counters, gives the family a strong, sturdy, affable character in body text. Extravagant ligatures add scholarly flourishes. The serifs were also generally designed in a slightly chunkier, less delicate way than the ones found in garaldes, and they usually present sharp cuts and squared edges which make them quite crisp at text sizes. FS Brabo is a four-weight typeface from Fontsmith whose way with words makes beautiful things of not just books and magazines, but also newspapers, signage and corporate wordmarks. Brabo’s much more cursive italics take the air of erudition up a notch with a lyrical collection of decorative capitals, swashes and ligatures, for embellishing or adding emphasis to display text or titles.

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