Everybody farts, so why not make a book about it? That was what Cloquet student Timber Latvala thought when her aunt approached her last year with the idea for a children’s book all about farting.
“I thought it would be fun,” Latvala said. “It’s just funny, and at least from my family experience, we do get joy from farting.”
“My Farty Family,” written by Christine Rapsys, was published in December and features drawings by 15-year-old Latvala.
The book centers on a young boy who gets immense joy from farting, and it follows each member of his family as they all experience different situations based around the act.
According to Latvala, the drawings for the book took about four months for her to complete, with roughly 30 minutes spent on each piece.
It has a total of 38 pages, and is available to the public through outlets such as Amazon.
At first, Latvala was nervous for her family and friends to see the finished product. She shared that was concerned about the toilet humor not translating well, especially when it came to her high school teachers.
However, she was pleasantly surprised when her friends and family immediately loved the finished product. Even her teachers voiced support for the book, giving air high-fives to Latvala as they passed "My Farty Family" around at a meeting.
Latvala and her family are planning to donate six copies of the book to two local elementary schools and the Cloquet Public Library. She said she hopes it will continue to make people laugh.
A growing artist
All of Latvala’s drawings are done digitally through the use of a tablet. She shared that her favorite part of drawing is sketching out the images on the tablet before she adds color and fine details.
While the images in “My Farty Family” are more cartoon-based, Latvala enjoys semi-realistic images and often likes to incorporate darker colors into her drawings.
She is currently working toward perfecting aspects of the human anatomy in order to make her images appear more lifelike.
“I really like how my art style is right now, but I do kind of criticize it, ‘cause if you don’t criticize it then you can’t improve,” she said. “I feel like the more I try … the more awesome it’s gonna look.”
Latvala first began drawing at a young age through a coping mechanism she developed that included drawing floor plans and designs as a way to calm herself — a practice she continues to do today.
“She was never really the coloring book kind of kid,” Latvala’s mother, Kasey Winters, said. “She just wanted the piece of paper and the pencil.”
It was in fourth grade, when she met her best friend, that Latvala's love for art truly began to blossom.
A unique community
After her family moved to Cloquet in 2015, Latvala met Kairi Peacock-Olsen while in class at Cloquet schools. The two immediately bonded over their love for art, and Latvala began drawing almost constantly.
“Fourth grade to now, it’s been art, art, art,” she said. “We’re kind of like drawing buddies.”
While Latvala explained that she doesn’t enjoy the set structure of art classes, she said she does enjoy collaborating with others.
Latvala has met over 20 new friends through posting her art on social media. The group, consisting of artists throughout the world, has formed a sort of community, connecting mainly through Instagram.
Currently, they are all collaborating on a zombie apocalypse book called “Creativity’s Dead End,” in which each person develops a character and Latvala writes the story.
Winters expressed her joy over seeing Latvala develop authentic friendships through her art. She feels proud of Latvala’s ability to express herself artistically.
“I feel like she allows herself to be herself when she’s drawing,” she said. “I always love her drawings, even when I don’t understand them.”
Latvala enjoys both writing and drawing, and will often channel her emotions into her work. This has come in especially handy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She shared that sometimes her teachers express concern about her darker drawings, but that it is just her way of expressing herself, and the images can vary based on her mood.
“I do have a lot of sad and angry ones, especially during the beginning of the pandemic because I was sad that I couldn’t see my friends and angry that I couldn’t see my friends,” Latvala said.
However, she said she likes to have a balance, and will usually spend time making happy drawings as well.
“Sometimes it can get really dramatic, and then sometimes it can be happy-go-lucky,” she said.
For now, Latvala said she is mainly focused on her schoolwork, and considers art to be a hobby. She plans to attend college and study early-childhood development.
While art will always be a part of her life, she explained that she doesn’t consider it to be her future career.
Find Latvala on Instagram at galaxy_fishes.