The Stories Behind the Book

The idea to begin collecting the communications from tech company CEOs announcing immediate or impending layoffs — and the form it took all happened very quickly. I Take Full Responsibility was a rare project where ideas came fast and furious and often arrived in a nearly complete form.

I Take Full Responsibility book and companion prints sitting on a pile of manilla inter-office envelopes
The second edition of I Take Full Responsibility along with its two companion prints.

Before these ideas and stories fade into the recesses of my memory, now feels like a good time to capture them to contextualize the book’s design for everyone who so kindly purchased a copy. And so the following notes account for details shared or unique between the first and second editions of the book.

  • Pain was the determining factor for the size of the first edition. Screen printing on acetate releases a static charge when you place the sheets on a metal drying rack. After 40 prints and a lot of swearing, I was done.
  • The number of communications/messages included was determined by the practical limits of stapling and availability of the selected papers used throughout the book.
  • I made a glaring typographic faux pas on the cover in the first edition, capitalizing the word “Of” in the subtitle. But because of the above I ultimately left it although not before considering other options to reprint that component.
  • The acetate covers in the first edition are printed half on the outside, and half on the inside. This began as a material test to understand durability but became a metaphor for memory. Some will show wear or outright disappear sooner than others, not unlike the trauma these experiences are imprinting on workers.
  • The cover image depicts silver metallic helium balloons which were a common sight at Facebook when recognizing an employees Faceversary (nee Metaversary). The visual pairing on the cover to me signifies that the party’s over.
  • The original sketches for the cover looked like one of Peter Mendelsund’s Calvino book covers focused on the shape of the pink slip and loose, handwritten lettering which led incorporating a die cut and layers which ultimately turned into the final cover.
  • In the first edition, the screen printed title is properly centered. In the second edition, it was pushed further towards the edge, away from the stability of the book’s spine. In a third edition, I imagine it would start falling off the edge entirely…
  • Delivering books enclosed in a custom-printed Inter-office envelope served aesthetic and practical purposes as a customizable delivery mechanism but also as a means to protect the relatively fragile book covers.
  • The Inter-office envelopes were originally planned as silkscreen prints but the test run didn’t go very well and I decided to try running them through the Risograph instead. This worked perfectly and all-but eliminated any waste.
  • The laser cut APPROVED stamp added to each pink slip card felt like it added a sense of authoritativeness to what was originally a bit of a gag. It was also what prompted the use of Rosetta Type’s Gridlite PE type family as part of the book.
  • The design of the pink slip was more typographically decorative originally but it didn’t feel right. This led to a more practical and sombre aesthetic built around Aglet Mono.
  • The pink slip is versioned. The first edition has the number 1 in the “For internal use only” box, and 2 in the second edition.
  • The bingo card was slightly goofy way draw attention to the patterns I saw in these communications. It also presented another use for Gridlite PE alongside Aglet Mono.
  • There’s an unused version of the title page which includes an additional line that reads “Ugh, do I have to.” As much as the sort of exasperated resignation felt right, it didn’t really flow correctly with the other text.
  • I intentionally left the text of these communications unchanged and without personal commentary to allow readers to develop their own conclusions.
  • The photograph of the “New Org Chart” print by artist Tucker Nichols is an old favorite and so perfectly described the moment despite being ten years old.
  • I originally typeset the email to Twitter staff similarly to the other communications but realized it needed to stand apart. Presenting it as an email made more sense.
  • Artist Michelle Blade’s ghostly figures shown in the included detail photograph are like trying to piece together the human impact of several rounds of layoffs.
  • The photograph of a gathering of Aeron chairs was taken during the pandemic. It felt absurd but also perhaps also represents a sign of great excess and lack of foresight.
  • The pixelated, almost disintegrating figures are from a photograph of a dried out Risograph master. I love this image and was quite pleased to fit it into this project.
  • I briefly considered laser cutting the title out of the cover of the second edition but after testing this, it was far too time consuming to be practical.
  • I considered changing the title of the second edition to I Will Not Apologize This Time but instead used that as the impetus for the new print included alongside that edition.
  • The timing of the second edition lined up perfectly with the release of Regrets from OH No Type Co which immediately cemented the idea for what that design became.
  • The line used in the Move Fast print included with both editions came from my dear friend and colleague Michele. It’s funny because it’s true.

Want to experience the book for yourself? You can pick up a copy while supplies last.