Music has a way of connecting people. At least that’s how Josh Tuininga puts it.
Tuininga, originally from Bellevue, grew up in an art-infused home. Born to artist parents with a love of music, Tuininga came to know and love the classic rock and R&B icons of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s.
“I grew up listening to the music my parents grew up with. But I also came to know music that was even before their time. My dad had an old Victrola record player that he would play old 45s of Chuck Berry among others,” he said. “It was a total time warp.”
He said listening to music from so many time periods not only brought him and his family closer together, it also gave them a platform to talk about what the musicians were saying. This allowed him to form a deeper understanding and appreciation for music.
“I remember when my mom sat me down in second grade to listen to the lyrics of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ and talk about what it meant and my place in the world,” he said.
With a solid foundation in music and art, Tuininga pursued a degree in arts, animation and technology at School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Now a resident of North Bend, he’s launched his own collaborative art and design agency, The Medium.
“I’ve always been an artist,” he said. “It was great growing up in an environment that really supported my creativity. At school, I really got into design and it felt like music and design went really well together.”
Combining his love of music and skills for design, Tuininga recently completed his first graphic anthology bedtime story, “Dream On.”
“Dream On” pays tribute to decades of classic rock and R&B music through the story of a mother and daughter finding common ground. Part graphic anthology, part bedtime story, “Dream On” is suited for all ages.
As a father to twin 11-year-old daughters, Tuininga said he’s happy to continue the tradition of introducing music and art to younger generations.
“I made ‘Dream On’ because I firmly believe in connecting through music and talking about an artist’s message and social impact,” Tuininga said.
The story is simple: After an argument between mother and daughter, the girl goes to sleep with the radio on. The music from the radio narrates each scene, taking the main character on a journey throughout the night. An eclectic mix of historical song titles — chosen carefully for variety, significance and poignancy — guide the girl through a series of dreams. Each sleep position echoes a dream sequence, making the journey a unique meld of real life and fantasy.
Tuininga spent about a year working seriously on the project, yet he said he’s had this idea for much longer.
“I had this concept of reality in sleep and how each affect the other,” he said. “I just started drawing this girl and I couldn’t help but realize in most of my sketches there was always a radio in the background,” he said. “I kept thinking about how songs are a great way to tell a story too, so things just came together pretty organically.”
He wanted to keep the story simple but relatable, stressing the importance of the music as well as keeping the readers engaged. The simple story plot of a conflict between a parent and child, he said, reflects the same kinds of conflicts he experiences with his children.
“I wanted the story to be able to connect and relate with all readers, so I had to keep it simple and let the music drive the story,” he said.
Choosing the songs to be included in the book proved to be a challenge for Tuininga. However, it was one he says was one of the most fun challenges he could have faced during the writing process.
Tuininga picked songs he felt would allow readers — both young and old — to connect with the music, the story and, ultimately, each other.
Some of the songs and artists featured in the story include, “In the Still of the Night” by The 5 Satins and “In This Love” by Bob Marley. He said using the songs to tell the story was his way of paying homage to his music icons.
“I wanted to have a range of genres, cultures and genders represented in the story,” he said. “There were so many to choose from and it was really hard to narrow it down to just a handful, but the songs and the song titles had to flow and make the story progress.”
Instead of following the normal, but long publishing process, Tuininga decided to self-publish “Dream On.”
“I was never really comfortable going out there and promoting myself,” he said. “I thought a better use of my time and energy would be to make more art.”
Tuininga created an Indiegogo account to seek crowdfunding for “Dream On” and gauge audience interest. Within its first week, the project received about 75 percent of its $5,500 goal. The project now has reached 100 percent of its goal.
“I was shocked that it took off so well. This is the first time I’ve really felt this excited about a project and it’s really rewarding to know that other people are excited about it,” he said.
With the money raised through Indiegogo, Tuininga has the funds to print “Dream On.” The book will be officially released in April and he is hoping to make the book available for purchase in local bookstores throughout the Eastside and Seattle areas.
“Dream On” is still available for pre-order through Indiegogo for $25.
For more information about “Dream On,” visit the website on Indiegogo.