Houston Matters

Houston Startup Creates Customized Stories Sent By Mail

Tellinga employs area artists to make custom, comic book-style stories that are sent in installments through the mail.

Tellinga Envelope
Customers of the Houston startup Tellinga supply details from which artists create custom, comic book-style stories that are sent to the intended recipients by mail.

We live so much of our lives digitally these days. So, when you get an actual piece of mail from another person it can be both exciting and more meaningful.

A Houston startup looks to capitalize on that effect by creating personalized stories with customized artwork that are sent in installments through the mail.

Tellinga - Comic Book Frames
Custom artwork created for a customer of the Houston startup, Tellinga.

The service is called Tellinga (pronounced tuh-LING-uh), and takes its name from the fact that artists are telling a story.

Founder Alex Kurkowski, a Rice MBA student, employs two dozen artists, many of whom are area college art students.

Tellinga - Artists and Founder
Tellinga founder Alex Kurkowski (far right) and some of the artists he employs. (L-R): Patrick Medina, Alma Garcia, Adrienne Arcela, and Michelle Vo.

Purchasers go online and supply the outline for the story they’d like created along with pictures of any real-life people who will appear as characters. Then, the artists create a custom, comic book-style story.

Depending on which package is purchased, the recipients receive their story in installments in hand-lettered envelopes that show up in their literal mailbox. It’s almost like reading a piece of serial fiction in the issues of a magazine, month by month.

Tellinga Custom Artwork
Custom artwork created for a customer of the Houston startup, Tellinga.

Customers often purchase them as creative, customized gifts for a variety of occasions. One customer commemorated the story of how he met his soon-to-be wife. Another told the story of what a couple’s cats do all day when they’re home alone.

In the audio above, Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty visits with Kurkowski and some of the artists he works with.

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Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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