Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Designing a book cover for a story about a young man haunted by the significant loss of his four closest friends. 


One day, at a volunteer summer camp, Tsukuru Tazaki met and quickly befriended four other volunteers. The four friends all had a color as part of their surnames, leaving Tsukuru "colorless" in their "orderly, harmonious community". This difference made him feel ostracized and translated into deep insecurity, and Tsukuru considered himself to be dull and uninteresting compared to his unique and talented friends.

One day, seemingly out of nowhere, his friends cut Tsukuru out of their lives, leading him on a long and winding journey, spanning close to 16 years, of uncertainty, depression, and loss. Many years later, he goes back to the members of his long-lost group to figure out what happened in an attempt to piece his life back together. Ultimately, this is a story of self-discovery and personal growth; how delving into the past can uncover truths about the present. 
For the design of the cover, I used negative space to create forms and signify the idea of absence. I played around with a halftone effect to add texture and dimension while building out letter forms. As a result, the black-and-white dots appear as different shades of gray from the right distance.

Tsukuru's friends are depicted on the cover, each with the respective colors in their names, but he is quite obviously missing from in between them. Placing them close to the book's rightmost edge, I pictured a lonely Tsukuru, out of frame, watching his four closest friends walk away and abandon him.

Unsolicited. Proposed book cover made in Gael Towey and Stephen Doyle’s Telling Stories class at the School of Visual Arts’ MFA Design program.

Copyright © 2023 Renee Freiha