A southern Ohio native who had moved to Pickerington to pursue an advanced art degree recently was named the winner of an international contest for aspiring illustrators.

Growing up in the forests surrounding Franklin Furnace, Ohio, Quintin Gleim's mind ventured into worlds of fantasy and science fiction, and he's always been artistically inclined.

"I've drawn my entire life - as long as I can remember," Gleim said.

"I think I always wanted to do a career in it in some form."

Now Gleim is a step closer to his dream after moving to Pickerington in August to stay with family friends and pursue a master's degree in fine arts at the Columbus College of Art and Design.

The 22-year-old also gained a credential for his portfolio in November, when he was named the winner of the 29th L. Ron Hubbard Illustrators of the Future Contest.

Gleim's contest entries were "imaginative realism" oil paintings that depicted otherworldly lifeforms, the Tower of Babel and science fiction and fantasy scenes. They were selected as tops among a pool of artist submissions from throughout the world.

Gleim will receive a $500 cash grant, a trophy, a trip to Hollywood for a weeklong intensive art workshop and his art will be published in the "L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 34."

Gleim also will attend a gala awards ceremony for a shot at winning the Golden Brush Award and $5,000 cash prize after he and other Illustrators of the Future finalists were tasked with creating book covers for stories submitted for the 33rd L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest.

"It's a fantastic opportunity," Gleim said. "I'm super excited to meet everyone there.

"It's going to be a great experience and a great networking opportunity."

According to Illustrators of the Future Contest officials, judges for the competition include some of the top names in field, including coordinating judge, Echo Chernik, whose clients include Celestial Seasonings Tea, Disney, NASCAR and Proctor & Gamble.

"The 322 past winners of the illustrating contest have produced over 4,500 illustrations, 356 comic books, graced 594 books and albums with their art and visually contributed to 36 TV shows and 46 major movies," a contest press release stated.

Gleim is hopeful his contest win and the two-year CCAD program will catapult him into an illustrating career.

With more than a year of schooling left, he said he is unsure exactly where it will take him, but he's interested in creating gaming and book cover illustrations.

He's also producing images for his illustrated novel set in a post-apocalyptic American West, populated by fantasy creatures, dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts.

"I am writing a book," Gleim said. "It's mostly a visual novel, but it also has words.

"I don't think of myself as a literary artist. I'm more of a visual artist."

As for his recent contest feat, Gleim described it as "a little overwhelming," and said he'd all but given up hope on the competition he learned about while researching scholarship programs.

"I guess a good word would be 'shocked,'" he said. "It was quite a few months after (entering the contest), so I just assumed I didn't win.

"I took a chance and I entered. It's pretty cool. It's pretty exciting."