Tolles student turns passion into profession through Art Design and Communications program

shaggerty Success Stories

Academic credits are the currency of graduation for most high school seniors. But Tolles Career & Technical Center student Austin Fraley graduated in May with an exclusive credit that he earned on his own: a publishing credit.

The Art Design and Communications student is listed as production assist on the “Scarlett Huntress,” a comic book published by Savage Mind Comic Studio this past spring. It’s an exciting culmination of study in the classroom and practice at the side of comic book illustrator Sean Forney. And all of it was made possible by attending Tolles.

Art has long been Fraley’s passion. “I’ve been drawing since I was little. I always knew I wanted to go into the art field,” he said.

Tolles gave Fraley the lift he needed for everything to fall into place. Through dual enrollment, he took courses at the Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) and gained a leg up on his college credits.
There were other unique opportunities as well, like taking an anatomy class in high school.

“Understanding anatomy is essential for an artist, and CCAD emphasizes it,” he said. “You need to know about form to understand how to do the art and apply the color.”

And then there was the internship. Fraley created his own internship by asking Forney if he could help out at conventions. He ended up doing that and much more, from applying color and special effects to laying out pages.

“Sean is a wonderful illustrator, and he has taught me so many different aspects of figure drawings and line art,” Fraley said. “He would help me so much with feedback and let me try new things. He even introduced me to some of his clients.”

While his former classmates at Darby High School were sitting in the classroom, Fraley was learning first-hand the tools and trade of comic book art. All told, by the time he graduated, Fraley had logged more than 177 hours as an intern.

“Tolles gave me the time to practice my skills. This opportunity would not have happened anywhere else. I wouldn’t have had the time away to work on all of this,” he said

In between his classwork and internship, Fraley worked at Kroger. That’s a lot for anyone to juggle, but he does it with purpose. He intends to major in illustration at CCAD, paid for in part by a $40,000 academic scholarship, with the ultimate goal of going into production art for movies and video games.

“Art is a completely different thing for me now,” he said. “Now it’s a profession.”