An Interview with Heather Victoria Held: The Peace Behind the Pen


HVHIn anticipation of Heather Held’s first Binders Art School workshop this April 11th & 12th, The Story Of Spencerian Script, we’ve gotten a beautiful glimpse inside the artist behind the pen. Read on for inspiration and beauty and trust that she is even more amazing, and compassionate in person.

Taking a workshop with Heather feels like a celebration and unearthing of the most beautiful parts of yourself. She gently pulls it out of you, and at a pace you’re comfortable with. After two days of instruction from her, you’ll leave with a wealth of knowledge from a masterful teacher, after ingesting a giant two-day dose of peace and happiness. She is that amazing.


Anne  Elser: What is your favorite word?

Heather Victoria Held: Peace.

AE: What is you least favorite word?

HVH: No.

AE: What turns you on?

HVH: Thunderstorms, the smell of rain. 

AE: What turns you off/makes you angry? 

HVH: Indecision and lies.

AE: What is your favorite curse word? 

HVH: This is mild…but Jackass is my favourite!

AE: What sound or noise do you love?

HVH: The sound of a chickadee. 

AE: What sound or noise do you hate?

HVH: The alarm clock.

AE: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? 

HVH: Costume Design.

AE: What profession other than your own would you not like to do? Anything medical

HVH: Anything medical.

AE: If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? 

HVH: Here is your pen room!

AE: What was your earliest creative memory?

HVH: I remember the smell of opening a new box of crayons. Seeing every perfect colour and wanting to keep them all beautiful but still be able to use them. I remember getting the huge box set that had the metallic colours in it with the sharpener built into the side.  

AE: What was the best part of your childhood?

HVH: My home was always very creative. There was always music playing in the background. My Mom taught oil painting classes every Tuesday afternoon. I would come home to the smell of turpentine and see the paintings and sketches done by the students. My Dad had a printing press in the basement. We would fall asleep to the sounds of the printing press being operated and wake up to see the stacks of prints. We spent a lot of hours visiting print shops, playing with type and coming home with armfuls of off cuts from the print shops. 

AE: In comparing the differences and similarities between your home in Canada, with the US, what do you love/dislike? 

HVH: I don’t see a lot of distinctions between the people. I find good people everywhere I travel. The climate changes intrigue me. My part of Canada has four distinct seasons. Sometimes winters can be a little to long and too grey. It always seems like such a treat that a short flight will bring me into sunshine and warmth across the border. I love the colours of a Canadian Autumn as the Sugar Maples put on a vibrant display even though those colours are short lived.

I find it funny that some of my American neighbours think they will see a snowsled and igloo as soon as they cross the border into Canada.

I must say, I think Canadian money is much prettier.

AE: How large is your studio and is it generally kept clean or messy?

HVH: My studio is not large.  Every square inch of usable space is taken up. My bookshelves are overflowing. Everything is close at hand and does have its own space, but I am not always good about returning my tools to their right place. But aside from being left out on the desk, I do treasure my tools.

I am notoriously messy while I work, but once I complete a project, I clean up my work surface to point of washing down the desk. It symbolically washes away the previous project and prepares me to start work on the next one. 

AE: What gets you up in the morning?

HVH: The desire to work. Always a new idea brewing! 

AE: Have your previous life experiences had an impact effect on your calligraphic work and if so, how? 

HVH: Without question, my floral training has had a big impact on my calligraphic work. I put together a flourish the same way I put together a floral bouquet. The principals of design were transferrable. I used to do hand sewing and hand embroidery as a hobby. My embroidery designs were always freely embellished and very much a pre-cursor to my offhand flourishing.

AE: What artist, art movement, or point in history has influenced your work the most and how?

HVH: Artists that have influenced my work are Walter Crane,  Beatrix Potter, Kate Greenaway, and Charles Van Sandwyk. I am drawn to children’s book illustrations and the Victorian era.  I love the opulence and ornamentation of the era. When in doubt, they added more gold!

AE: What advice can you give to all calligraphers at any level of experience?

HVH: Never stop learning. I don’t think we ever achieve a level where we have discovered all there is to learn about any art form. There are always new discoveries to be made.  Enjoy whatever level of expertise you are at and experience all that it has to offer.

AE: What do you love most about teaching?

HVH: Sharing the creative spark with new students. Helping to empower people to tap into their creative sides. Dusting away some of the negative comments that have been spoken over students as they were growing up and trying to reverse the damage.

Art is healing.

I have watched it etch away pain and bring joy to so many people.


Click here to read more about Heather, her history, and to view her amazing work.

Click here to sign up for her workshop at Binders Art School in April 2013!

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The Story of Spencerian Script with Heather Victoria Held
2 Sessions | All Levels $230
ARTZ1334 | Thursday & Friday, April 11 & 12, 9:30am – 4pm
This is an intensive study of historic Spencerian Script developed by Platt Rogers Spencer to its contemporary application. The student will learn the rhythm and strokes of this elegant handwriting and develop their own unique style. The elegance and grace of this hand will captivate the interest of the student.

HEATHER VICTORIA HELD resides in St. George Ontario with her husband Chris and their daughter Holly. Heather’s passion for Spencerian Script was kindled when she met her friend and mentor Master Penman Michael Sull. Early in her ornamental penmanship endeavours she was guided and encouraged by Dr. Joe Vitolo through the Ornamental Penmanship discussion group and IAMPETH. She is a member of Master Penmen Brian Walker’s Spencerian Study Group of the UK and is thankful for Brian’s guidance in her penmanship journey. Heather’s work has been published in Bound and Lettered, Somerset Studio, The Penman’s Journal, The Spencerian Review, Romantic Homes, Good Mail Day and 1000 Homemade Cards. In 2009 Heather was awarded the Spencerian Heritage Award by Michael Sull and is honoured to take her place as a storyteller of the golden age of American Penmanship and specifically offhand flourishing as she teaches throughout North America.