Name: Julia Broughton
Job title: Lettering Artist
Time in current role: 1 year
Julia is a freelance Lettering Artist and calligraphy teacher. Visit her website here.
Why did you decide to go freelance?
I’ve been working in the creative industry since graduating in 2007, primarily as a greetings card designer. This work let me touch upon quite a few design disciplines, but when I found lettering and calligraphy it hit me like a sledge hammer and I became instantly obsessed. For a few years now it’s been a constant hobby, so much so that I realised this was what I wanted to do with my life. Doing the calligraphy for a friend’s wedding last year confirmed that this was the sort of work I needed to be doing. I love it!
What are the key functions of your role?
Currently my job mostly involves creating lettering (primarily calligraphy) for the big events in people’s lives. This has taken the form of wedding signs, table plans on giant mirrors, place cards, poems to given as anniversary gifts…you get the picture! I’m in constant communication with clients, guiding them through the process of commissioning the work and making sure that everything is perfect for them. You can’t make mistakes when dealing with the most memorable times in people’s lives.
As well as commissioned work I also teach calligraphy with Quill London (a lovely stationery shop in north London). In this role I guide beginners through the basics of modern calligraphy and by the end of the class they’re writing phrases and developing their own style. It’s very hands on and I give a lot of one-on-one guidance.
Talk us through your typical working day
My day usually begins around 6am when I get up to commute to my day job in London as a senior designer for a greetings card company. I use my train journey to catch up with social media and to take care of emails. Then it’s design work throughout the day, stopping for lunch around 1pm and going to the gym on my lunch break. I head home around 5.30 to 6pm and use my train journey home to read and decompress before working on my freelance business after dinner. Luckily lettering is a very calm, somewhat therapeutic activity so it’s not a bad way to while away an evening. If it’s a day where I have a calligraphy class scheduled I’ll head straight to Quill after work and then teach until 9pm, getting home around an hour later. I work a lot. My Netflix list is currently going dangerously unwatched.
Your favourite part of the job?
I love that through my work I’m linked to so many happy and important events in people’s lives. It sounds ridiculous but getting feedback from an ecstatic bride when I’ve managed to bring her ideas to life literally makes me tear up a little. Also the fact that I’m simply doing something I love and making a career from it. Not a lot of people can say that, so I consider myself very lucky indeed.
…and the part you could do without?
Turning my calligraphy into vectors using Adobe Illustrator is something I could do without. One day I actually intend to hire an assistant to do it for me! It’s not that it’s a terrible job, it just takes a long time (given the intricate nature of calligraphy) which can make me feel a little impatient. In the grand scheme of things though it’s barely a complaint.
How would your clients describe you in three words?
Driven, helpful and responsive
Plans for the future?
I’ve not been pursuing “Letters by Julia” seriously for very long so the main plan is to grow my business and to integrate myself more into the wedding industry as that’s where my abilities can really shine.
I would also like to start taking on commercial work on top of my private commissions. It’s been a dream of mine for quite a while to see my lettering on food packaging (food being my second love after lettering).
Do you have any advice for other aspiring freelancers?
I think the best piece of advice is simply to make sure you’re showing up. It’s all very well and good to have a dream but nothing will happen if you don’t put the work in. Things may be slow at first which is disheartening, but if you keep plugging away things will start to happen. LLY