Interview with Marie Bilodeau and Kerri Elizabeth Gerow about Wishstamp

By Derek Newman-Stille

Spec Can: What inspired you to begin Wishstamp?

KEG: It was all her idea.

MB: I stayed up too late one night and drafted a business plan for no reason except it sounded like fun!

KEG: And then she realized she needed an artist.

MB: She’s easy to win over with chocolate.

WishStamp

Spec Can: Okay, wait, can you tell us a little bit about Wishstamp?

KEG: Well it has nothing to do with chocolate, turns out.

MB: It is a treat though!

KEG: Basically it’s a subscription service for a full year of greeting cards – one each month. We currently have seven lines – each with unique artwork and stories.

MB: People can personalize cards as well, which is really popular. When someone buys a subscription, they have the opportunity to add their own personalized notes that will go out in the month they’ve specified. It’s still from you, but you don’t have to think about it every month.

KEG: So, for example, if you love unicorns (and who doesn’t?), you can order Series 1 of Beyond the Rainbow, for yourself or a friend. Each month, you or your friend gets a card in the mail, with “field notes” from the expedition that went beyond the rainbow, as well as whatever message you added in when you bought your line.

MB: We tried to make each line memorable in its own right. Candy Kids is like sugar and sorcery – adventures with magic in Bonbon Valley. It’s a lot of fun to write, and so is every line. We try to have something for everyone.

Wishstamp’s Beyond the Rainbow Series

Spec Can: What got you interested in cards?

MB: I was discussing subscription services with a friend, and it occurred to me that a lot of them lead to a lot of waste, and don’t really give anything except stuff to the receiver. Which is great, mind you, but I thought maybe stories, art, and a personal message, the chance to remind someone that they’re being thought about, might be an interesting subscription. Heck, it’s something I’d like to get! Since Kerri can art and I can writing, cards seemed a fun solution to meet all of those criteria.

WishStamp’s Candy Kids Series

Spec Can: Marie, you are a speculative fiction writer. How does Wishstamp relate to other forms of writing that you do?

MB: Writing for cards is a whole other challenge, but one that I quite love. Wishstamp gives me a chance to stretch my writer brain in a different way. I have to think about the 12-card arc, if there is one, and what each line and card represents. Not to mention that I’m used to writing novels. Cards are, well, way shorter. Way. So much way.

Writing succinctly and to the point makes every word important, every action golden.  And with a bit of magic in every card line, the writing ties back nicely to my speculative fiction roots. I get giddy just thinking about writing the next batch of cards! 

WishStamp’s Wednesday Afternoon Series

Spec Can: Kerri, most of your art tends to be 3 dimensional. What was it like to create art for cards?

KEG: Like many visual artists, I began by drawing. I’ve always loved drawing and painting, but in the past several years I’ve moved more into 3-dimensional art. Creating the cards for Wishstamp gives me the opportunity to return to drawing and painting. In some ways it’s easier to draw something for Wishstamp than it is to just sit down and create in something of a vacuum. With the card lines I have a clear direction, if not always a clear specific idea when I sit down to start drawing, and so it’s freeing in a way.

WishStamp’s The Adorables Series

Spec Can: Cards are often isolated statements, but by having a subscription of 12 cards, you participate in an ongoing narrative. It is an interesting form of sequential storytelling. What is the potential for telling a story or creating a narrative this way?

KEG: from the art point of view, it’s interesting because I’ll have an idea in my head, but when Marie starts writing them, sometimes she has a completely different idea, and then we give each other looks from across the desk.

MB: But we always come to a common vision. The art inspires stories that are sometimes sequential, or sometimes not completely linked. Some card lines are linked to specific months, while others just start with the first of 12 cards and go from there. It makes it interesting, knowing that, narratively speaking, for some card lines they’ll be starting in June instead of January, but they’ll still get the same story. Most of our lines are written so they can be read in any order.

KEG: It’s fun knowing that everyone gets to look at the same art at the same time each month, for most card lines. It’s like a monthly reveal.

Spec Can: What were some of your favourite card lines you did?

KEG: For me, unicorns (obviously), but also Candy Kids, because it picks up on the character design and storytelling that we grew up with as kids in the 1980s. Early on in the Wishstamp process, I woke up one morning with the idea for the first Candy Kids art pretty solidly developed in my head, and by the end of the weekend the art was complete for series one.

MB: I love writing for both those lines – Candy Kids goes from weird adventure to mythical origins, all full of mystery, which keeps things fresh. Beyond the Rainbow has selections from field notes, and I love getting into the heads of the expedition.

WishStamp’s Peculiar Pets Series

Spec Can: What card lines are coming up? Are there any sneak peaks you can give us?

KEG: We just launched Sadie and her Dragon, which is one of our sequential lines, meaning the cards have to be read in a specific order. I channeled my love of details in this line, and each picture tells the story.

MB: We also have a new spectacular artist/writer joining our team, with a line that’s their very own. We don’t want to spoil too much, but if you’re familiar with Derek Newman-Stille, you will be super happy. If you’re not familiar with them, we recommend you google them today!

It’s a great line, and we can spoil it a bit by saying it’s grim. But not. 

KEG: I’m shaking my head at you. We’ve also got some lines that are still in the very preliminary stages, but that we think our subscribers will be really excited about when they come out. Stay tuned!

To find out more about WishStamp, check out their website at https://wishstamp.com

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