Francesco Griffo da Bologna started his career as a goldsmith, and later worked for the most important publisher of the day, the house of Aldus Manutius of Venice.
He was the first modern type designer, in the sense that he devised types for the mechanical craft of printing and not for an alternative to hand-written manuscript. His initial project in Venice was to invent a typeface called Bembo, which is regarded as the most modern in appearance of all 15th century types. He was the inventor of the cursive or italic style which made a fortune for the printer Aldus Manutius. His life ended in disaster. During a quarrel, he seized an iron bar and inflicted wounds leading to the death of his son-in-law. He disappeared from history after that and is thought to have been executed by hanging in 1518.
His name lives on in a 20th century font by Hans Mardersteig called Griffo. In Spanish, italic fonts are known as letra grifa.
"Griffo has never received adequate recognition for his enormous contribution to type design. (J. Blumenthal, The Art of the Printed Book 1455-1955, 1973.)"