• December 5, 2019

Company tells story one panel at a time - Odessa American: Business

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Company tells story one panel at a time

Odessa native helps bring stories to life with Tellinga

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Posted: Sunday, October 20, 2019 5:15 am

Amber Alvarado read the words of the poem, and the idea for the artwork began to flow from her mind, through her fingers, and onto the card.

The art request she received was from a husband who wanted a special moment immortalized in art as an anniversary gift: a retelling of one his first dates with his wife that didn’t go as planned. The couple was underprepared, almost froze that night, and spent the night in a hammock.

A terrible date to some, but along with the man’s request was a poem his wife had written about that date.

The request she received stuck out to her as the man mentioned his wife once told him she used to enjoy receiving letters in the mail from her mom. He wanted to do something to make her feel happy about checking the mail again.

With those details, Alvarado said she was able to visualize the story. Alvarado accepted the assignment, and began working on the project.

“I just remember being struck by how sweet it was,” Alvarado, 30, said.

An Odessa native now based in San Antonio, Alvarado works with Tellinga (pronounced “Telling a…”), a website designed to allow artists to customize stories onto cards that are sent to friends and family through the postal service.

Alvarado said each artist with the company can pick and choose what stories the want to take, and the work has allowed her to rekindle her passion for art.

While in Odessa, Alvarado said she went to Blanton Elementary School, Bonham Junior High School, and then Permian High School before attending the Art Institute of San Antonio.

As for the website, Tellinga allows customers to submit their information about their stories that can be told over a one day, one week, or month time frame.

Alex Kurkowski, the founder of Tellinga, said the idea came to him while he was obtaining his MBA at Rice University. Wrapped up in study sessions and losing touch with his friends and family, Kurkowski said he wanted to reconnect with his family.

During a break from his study sessions, Kurkowski said he drew two doodles: one regarding a family trip to see the Kansas City Chiefs, and one regarding the “Star Wars” character Queen Amidala. He sent both of those to his brother, and his mother, respectively.

It was that moment, and his love of receiving letters in the mail, that made him come up with the idea for Tellinga.

“The whole point of this is to get people to checking your mailbox again,” Kurkowski said. “You don’t know how long (the story will be) … It’s really about the anticipation.”

People interested in the service can submit their stories, and pick a story length for their gifts. An artist with the company will then draw the image on a greeting card-size postcard and send it in the mail.

Kurkowski, who also attended Texas Tech, said the person receiving the cards will not know how long the story lasts, and he hopes to one day allow the artists to set their own fees, much like Airbnb get to set their own rates.

The goal of the company, Kurkowski said, is to get people excited about receiving physical mail in a world where everything is digital.

“Everyone has a mailbox, not everyone looks forward or excited abut (what’s in) it,” he said.

Alvarado said receiving something in the mail is a lot more personal, and said she can sometimes feel a connection with people in their requests, which pushes her to do something she would want to receive in the mail herself.

“I know someone is going to be really happy when they get this because it isn’t expected,” she said.

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