Your art's in the mail - introducing Tellinga

  • Drawing by Jenni Ly
    Drawing by Jenni Ly

Greeting cards have become outdated. According to Rice University graduate Alex Kurkowski, they are templated without any real personalization or meaning.

“Messages are usually generic, lame and flat-out cheesy,” said Kurkowski. “They provide zero additional benefits. Sure, maybe you put one up on your fridge for a week, but nobody truly enjoys it. It’s because there is zero additional use because of its lack of meaning and feeling. You only receive greeting cards one time in one occurrence or situation. I honestly don’t know how greeting cards have survived this long.”

Humans live in a digital world – social media, apps, texts and emails. Things such as traditional snail mail have somewhat been forgotten and, for those that still frequently check the mailbox, often disappointing by the number of bills or junk mail.

That’s where Tellinga comes in.

Already equipped with a career in the pharmaceutical industry, maintaining a new MBA workload proved to be a tall task for Kurkowski. With free time and relationships slipping away, he started snail mailing family and friends epistolary (literary/artisanal work in the form of letters) style illustrations.

“I would draw pictures in story form and snail-mail them out to loved ones piece-by-piece over time,” said Kurkowski. “Imagine a comic or any book with images being taken apart page by page and then those pages snail-mailed out one-by-one throughout weeks – or even months. It was always a way to stay connected and create fun, personalized stories so that they could look forward to checking their mailboxes every day – a personalized mailbox movie.”

Kurkowski turned this hobby into a business. Tellinga is a Houston based start-up that creates personalized hand-drawn greeting cards that tell your story through snail mail. Story recipients receive illustrated stories about themselves based on unique preferences. It can be fun, dramatic, thoughtful... anything.

Be the star in your own comic book; first day of school; choose your own adventure; create your own story; celebrate anniversaries; ask your crush out on a date or better yet – a marriage proposal.

Here’s how Tellinga works: Select a story length with options including one day, one week, two weeks, or one month (prices start at $9.99); upload a photo and add a description of your desired story (you can reminisce on a memory from your past or create a brand new story); their team of talented illustrators and artists will start working on your story; and, a few days later, the designated recipient of the story will start receiving unique hand-drawn greeting card-sized illustrations every other day in their mailbox until the package ends.

“I wanted to start Tellinga to deliver a new platform for young and eager artists to express themselves artistically while pursuing a path of personal and economic prosperity,” said Kurkowski.

Tellinga currently employs 25 talented artists from across the country including Beaumont’s own Jenni Ly – a graduate of West Brook High School and Lamar University.

“I have always had an interest in art when I was younger, starting with pencil drawings since elementary school,” said Ly. “I remember getting in trouble for not paying attention in class or having my doodles tossed away in the trashcan. I still kept up with it because it was a creative outlet I loved, and I enjoyed being able to express myself with my friends who also drew at the time. Drawing is close to my heart because it was the first method to access my passion.”

Ly became very interested in joining the Tellinga team from a job ad on

“I felt really connected to the way artists can help express and highlight memorable moments in people’s lives,” she said. “I also felt grateful to the company's emphasis on supporting artists from all over the nation. After joining Tellinga, I’ve had so much fun creating special moments for everyday people.”

Aside from a few guidelines, Ly said there is a large amount of creative freedom for the artists to draw, which is helping her develop her creative process.

“My favorite part of Tellinga is going back over my story boards and seeing my portfolio grow and also seeing my skills change and develop,” she said. “I really enjoy the practice and the routine of drawing that I’m getting back into, which was almost lost to me after graduating Lamar with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. I also enjoy the positive feedback from our clients. It makes me happy to know that they appreciate what I've conjured up for them!”

Tellinga offers 100% personalization/customization allowing the customer to have whatever they want. Messages are told in story form, which is more heartfelt and personal than standardized templates. Tellinga mail also provides additional uses, including framing, personalized art, social media profile pictures, and you can even create your own reusable storybook for your coffee table or book collection.

Lastly, you receive Tellinga hand-drawn cards over time to enjoy multiple times rather than just the one and done occurrence.

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Chad Cooper is the Entertainment Editor. Contact Chad at