Aldo Novarese was born in 1920 in Pontestura, a small town of the Monferrato region, Italy. The family later relocated to Turin, where Novarese's father worked as a customs agent, and it was in there that in 1930 Novarese began his studies at the Sculoa Artieri Stampatori (School of printing crafts). Under Francesco Menyey, Novarese studied woodcut, copper engraving, and lithography. Following this he spent three years at a specialist typography school, The Scuola di Tipographica Paravia. At sixteen he joined the Nebilolo foundry in Turin as a draftsman. The Turinese Nebiolo had been the main Italian font foundry and printing machine factory since the fourteenth century.
In 1939 Novarese was imprisoned for protesting against the war, but was saved from hard labour because of a medal he had won in 1938 at the Ludo Juveniles art competition. He returned to Nebiolo at the end of the war, becoming art director in 1952, and went on to be awarded a gold medal at the Milan trade fair. In 1956 Novarese published a typeface classification which received much praise from professional associations in Italy and consolidated his position as director at Nebiolo.
He left the Nebiolo foundry in 1975 to begin freelance work as a typeface designer, and it is this later work that sealed Novarese's international reputation. He continued to work up until his death in 1995, with his final typeface, Nadianne, being completed just before his death.