The Art Of Calligraphy With Judy Broad

Calligrapher Judy Broad shares her expertise on the beautiful art of calligraphy for weddings and events

Event calligraphy is absolutely huge right now, and rightly so; in an age of mass production, this beautiful art form can make a huge difference to the look and feel of any event. Toast.Life chats to super talented calligrapher and author Judy Broad to learn more about the art of penmanship, and what it can add to your next event.

Attention to detail can take an event from pretty damn good to seriously, unforgettably great. The way the envelope has been addressed, the names on the invitations, the place cards on the table, the food menu and more; all these individual items, when beautifully and thoughtfully executed, can make a huge difference to the overall impact of the occasion. ‘But who’s actually got time to address the envelopes with care and attention?’ I hear you ask. Or - ‘But I’ve got terrible handwriting!’ I hear you lament. Well never fear, calligraphist Judy Broad of Judy Broad Calligraphy is here.

“I was introduced to calligraphy many moons ago by my art teacher at school. I was instantly hooked and would take my penholder and little tin of nibs wherever I went!” Judy recalls.

“However, life got busy and I forgot about calligraphy for a while, but my passion was reignited when my niece was getting married and she asked if I could still do “the fancy writing”! I found my old tin of nibs and fell in love with calligraphy all over again. I enrolled on courses and workshops in London and even when I travelled to other countries, and practiced, practiced, practiced!!”

 Greenroom Judy Broad

After doing the stationery for her niece Bella’s wedding, requests then came from Bella’s friends, and then their friends and so on, and eventually Judy launched her business in 2013. And now, Judy is one of the most highly regarded and sought-after professional calligraphists in the industry, specialising in completely beautiful custom stationery for weddings and all manner of events. She has clients such as Chanel, Christian Dior  and Aspinal of London amongst others, and has collaborated with numerous wedding planners, photographers, designers and bloggers.

“From writing wedding invitations and envelopes for people I knew from my kitchen table I started to get requests from people I didn’t know. I went from invitations and envelopes to place cards, menus and table plans” she explains.

“I was asked to provide calligraphy for photo shoots, press events and corporate clients. Calligraphy was becoming popular all over again! If you had asked me ten years ago what I would be doing now I would never have thought I would have my own business doing something I love. But I think that’s the key - finding something you love” 

JB Calligraphy Table Settings

Calligraphy is described as ‘a visual art related to writing’. It is, of course, the creation of lettering using usually a broad tip pen or brush. In recent years, and in an age of mass production, there has been an ever-increasing demand for ‘craft’; skilled people creating and making things with their hands, followed by genuine, widespread appreciation for the beautiful result.

“I love so many things about calligraphy - I love creating something beautiful, I love how relaxing and theraputic it is, I love the sound the nib makes as it moves across the page and seeing the wet ink drying…and of course people’s reactions when they are delighted with the result!” beams Judy.

“I think people appreciate it as a skill and because it looks so beautiful! The personal and unique nature of calligraphy is very appealing” JB Calligraphy Order Of Service

Judy Broad Star Set

Stone Co Calligraphy JB

If calligraphy makes you think of medieval scrolls, old parchments and fussy text then think again; Judy’s style has a contemporary feel but retains the elegance of the traditional scripts. It looks modern yet it has heritage, it is neat and very pleasing to the eye but it is not formal or stuffy, It is wonderfully hand drawn but without feeling rustic or unsophisticated – quite the opposite. It is timelessly stylish, and a real treat for the eyes.   

“Handwritten elements add something special, personal and unique. How much nicer is it to receive an envelope beautifully written as opposed to an envelope with a typed label stuck on? It sets the tone for your event and creates anticipation for what else is to come!” enthuses Judy.

 “And a beautiful handwritten place card looks so much more classy than a printed one. It’s all in the details, as they say!” 

Judy Broad Calligraphy Black And Gold

Blue Set Judy Broad

Recently there has been a huge surge in popularity for handwritten elements at events – something that Judy knows all too well. In order to meet demand and ensure that she remains ahead of the curve when it comes to event trends, Judy’s style can vary from a fairly traditional script to something more contemporary and modern. She also offers a huge spectrum of colours, including bright almost neon colours, pastels, metallics and of course black and white.

“This summer I’ve being providing lots of white calligraphy on grey paper goods as well as grey ink on white paper goods, both of which I love! It’s understated and can fit beautifully with the soft colour palettes” she explains. 

“Calligraphy is also very versatile and can be used on all types of surfaces. I’ve written on glass, agate slices, fruit, mirrors, crackers, leaves, fans, plates, light bulbs and hats - to name just a few!” 

JB Calligraphy Black Suite

Judy Broad Calligraphy

Judy Broad Calligraphy Pink

Judy Broad Green Collection

Judy works on all manner of events - from intimate dinner parties to huge corporate occasions. She liaises closely with her clients in order to find out as much as she can about what kind of event it is going to be, and then together she works with them in order to identify what will work best and create what is needed.

“There have been so many memorable jobs and clients!” she smiles.  “There was a proposal once that that was quite sweet to work on - it was a treasure hunt around London and all the clues were written in calligraphy on beautiful paper. I am assuming she said yes!”

When she’s not busy working for the likes of Chanel, Christian Dior and a plethora of style-conscious private clients, Judy also offers private lessons and hosts special workshops where she shares her unique skills with anyone who would like to learn modern calligraphy. Her current workshops are held at several fabulous venues across London, Surrey and Sussex, and during the class guests can learn the fundamentals of modern calligraphy and how to use a dip pen and ink; it begins with practising the basic strokes before moving onto an upper and lower-case alphabet, with plenty of time for one-to-one instruction, and at the end of the session there’s a calligraphy starter kit to take home.

“Calligraphy does require patience, it’s not something you can master straight away” she explains. “It’s like any skill and requires lots of practice, but if you put the practice then your efforts will be justly rewarded!”

Judy Broad Placenames

Astonishingly, Judy has also managed to find time to write a book called Creative Calligraphy, which was published last year. She also runs an online shop that sells calligraphy supplies, and she’s been busy working with a big client on an in-store campaign for this coming Christmas. Is there anything that this woman cannot do?

“Well the royal wedding would have been a dream!” she smiles. “I understand that Meghan is a calligrapher so maybe she did her own! My other dream project would be to work on stationery range with Smythson, and to take my workshop programme international! A bit of road trip with my pen and little tin of nibs would be fun!”




Start With The Invititation

The invitation to an event is a good place to start with any event. Guests appreciate receiving an invitation personally addressed to them, and then you can think about using calligraphy for all kinds of other elements from place cards to menus, table numbers to signs. It can really pull the whole event together. 


The Cost of Calligraphy?

You have to remember that calligraphy is a skill and it is time consuming - calligraphers have spent hours perfecting their craft and honing their skills. But it doesn’t have to always be expensive - place cards start from £1 and often when you compare what you are spending on other elements of your event the calligraphy is actually good value! I tend to have a price per item but will always tailor a quote to a client’s specific requirements”


Make Sure It Matches

You want your calligraphy to fit in with your vibe and colour scheme of your event from the start to the finish, so if you are having a very formal black-tie event you would want your stationery to fit this theme so would probably opt for something classic and understated. If you were having a summer party, then you might choose something more flamboyant and colourful. 

If you’d like to work with Judy Broad  you can find her contact details and more information on her page in Toast.Life’s Little Black Book.

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