Heather Bloem | Design Roots




Bio: Heather has always had a passion for color, texture, typefaces, and calligraphy. She started her career in landscape architecture but discovered a love for pen and ink. She pursued that passion, studied typography, and fell in love with all things paper. Design Roots is the product of her passion - check out her site and learn from her at Calligraphy for Beginners!

Age: 34

Current Location: Frisco, TX

Favorite Dallas hangout: I love trying new restaurants with my husband when we get a date night! But on a regular day, you can find me and our kids shopping at Trader Joes and Central Market.

AHD: Congrats on the success of your calligraphy and design studio! How old is Design Roots and where'd the idea for the business come from?

HB: Design Roots was officially founded in November of 2008, though I started working on the details of it around June of the same year. I have a love for handwriting and design and my passion for color, texture, and typefaces are what inspires me. I began my career in landscape architecture but found pen and ink always working its way into whatever I did. So, I pursued that passion, studied typography, and fell in love with all things paper. A genuine appreciation for the classic and timeless beauty of calligraphy inspired me to learn more. I've had the privilege of turning that passion into what is now Design Roots. I do it because I love it. I do it because it allows me to still be a mom and a wife. With the support of my husband and kids, I've been able to continue pushing forward, growing professionally, and share my passion with others. I often feel like design is something that is a part of who I am, deeply rooted within me. Hence Design Roots, which is also a nod to my background in landscape architecture and love of trees.


AHD: Whether it's a tiny straw flag or a huge chalkboard sign, personal attention to detail is a must for each of your projects. Why is it so important to customize something beautiful, no matter the size, for every patron?

I guess because of the unique variety of jobs my clients hire me for, I can say I'm constantly being challenged creatively. And the size of the projects keeps me motivated in what I do. I want the mom who orders birthday invitations to find just as much beauty in her cards as the groom who has me handwrite wedding vows. I want each piece that leaves my studio to be special and the only way to truly make that happen is to pour everything I have into each project no matter the size.

AHD: While you are more than capable to design digitally, you've fallen for and perfected ink on paper. Would you say your use of the timeless beauty of calligraphy is a kind of reaction to the electronic world we now inhabit?
HB: In a way, yes. I still create in the digital world. But the imperfections of the pen, the splatter of ink, the way it all comes together are a reflection of my mood, a reflection of my passion, and it brings a warmth to the end product – something that I think is missing in a lot of the mass-produced products we are surrounded by.

AHD: Besides creating custom works for your clients, you've spread the joy by teaching calligraphy and handwriting too. How do your new "seasonal workshops" go above and beyond your standard how-to classes?

HB: The seasonal workshops are another way for me to express my love, or rather obsession, for all things paper. It's a chance for me to flex my creative muscle, and to share and showcase how anyone, with a little effort and creativity, can put a personal touch on just about anything.

AHD: You're also leading a HANDMADE class for Art House next month. Can you share some details about the March 18th event?

HB: This event will be geared towards true beginners. I will teach the basic techniques for holding the pen, using the ink, and basic strokes. My goal for this HANDMADE is to get participants excited about calligraphy. Each person will leave with a pen holder, nib, pot of ink and my C is for Calligraphy book to take home and practice on their own. And since we’re partnering with Paper Source – they offered to not only let us know their space but also, discount items throughout the store the evening of the class.     

AHD: After discovering your passion for paper, you went and studied typography and calligraphy. How do you think creatives are rewarded when they push themselves to continuously cultivate their creativity? 

HB: As an artist, I think you are constantly learning. You are either learning from yourself with practice, or you are growing from working with and watching other artists. Sometimes the biggest rewards for me are happy accidents. Those moments when I'm at my desk, doodling with my ink, and something comes from my pen that I've never done before. You can't think too much about it... you have to just do practice and do it.

AHD: Offering additional classes in 2014 is clearly a result of a strong response from the creative community around you. Why do you think Dallas is the type of town where a business like yours can be so successful?

HB: I feel that despite the very fast paced life we live in Dallas, being surrounded by multi-billion dollar corporations, being caught up in the ever-changing technologies around us (my husband works in technology – I can't get away from it), that there's still a desire to keep in touch, or get BACK in touch, with something classic. People see the beauty in the hand-written touch, and want to learn more. There is usually one person in every class that tells me “you know, they don't even teach cursive anymore”.

AHD: Where can we go to learn more about Design Roots, sign up for classes and order our own custom calligraphy, stationery, stamps and signage?

HB: I've moved most everything over to my website – www.design-roots.net (ironically, technology has played a huge role in me being able to share what I love so much). I keep a blog with the happenings of Design Roots just like the one I am teaching for Art House, you can sign up for classes and order a variety of calligraphy products, and you can get in touch with me to help put that creative and classic touch on your project. You can also follow me on Instagram @artsybloem and on Facebook.