Completion of the book Sarpaneva took publishing house Otava eight years. The artist was not at all satisfied with the stock photos, the chronological narrative or the minimalist appearance of the book itself that was typical of the time. Sarpaneva demanded perfection in everything. Otava strong man Heikki A. Reenpää gave his blessing to the project and publisher artist Markku Reunanen served as co-ordinator. Sarpaneva was given free rein.
The author of the text for Sarpaneva had been found in the then still unknown young talent, Kaj Kalin. Working together with him was a lively, inspiring experience. Highly educated and bright, Kalin represented the up-and-coming intelligentsia, which was blazing its own trail. Meetings were held at Sarpaneva’s home, where Kalin often arrived with three Gilda ice creams. Shovelling in spoonfuls of the half-melted treat and engaging in ever higher levels of conversation, the two of them often flew “through the roof”, as Kalin put it. The unrestrained atmosphere allowed for free, creative thinking.
The collection of pieces and photographing them took years. Sarpaneva oversaw each and every take. He made the settings and called the shots where the lighting and backgrounds were concerned. He approved and rejected. The laser scanner, which had just been introduced, made its own impact. Sarpaneva was never satisfied with the colour resolution these devices provided. A complete “dummy” of the book was made using chromalines and typeset sheets. There were no layout programs available at that time. While the book was being printed, Sarpaneva moved to Keuruu, which was the location of Otava’s printing facilities. The first batch of sheets supplied by Ahlström stretched in the presses, thus resulting in a misalignment of the colours in the upper right corner of each sheet. Sarpaneva rejected the entire batch of paper and had a new one produced. Finally, the print work received Sarpaneva’s seal of approval.
Some of the books were bound in leather and numbered. Five hundred copies were signed by the artist himself. English and German editions were also published.