APSU Student Spotlight: Austin Peay State University Art Student Shirley Layer Continues to See Success – Clarksville Online

Clarksville, TN – When it comes to art, everything starts with a sketch. For Shirley Layer, an animation and visual effects student extraordinaire at Austin Peay State University (APSU), “sketching” has a deeper meaning.

“I created this character [Sketch], and he’s like my inner child,” Layer said. “I had him for years and tried to figure out what I could do with him. Augmented Reality seems to be where I can actually bring it to life.




She started with a background in graphic design. In 2008, Layer left for the Air Force, started a design and print business in 2012, then enrolled at Austin State University Peay in 2019.

“I had no intention of going back to school or even to my hometown. I left in 2008 for the Air Force and came back in 2019 because my friend convinced me to use my GI Bill,” Layer said. “I was excited to see what Austin Peay had to offer.”

Starting first by learning the basics of art, she quickly found her place in augmented and virtual reality.

“I had no idea it was something I would enjoy,” Layer said. “I’ve always been interested in how I could make art more interactive. That’s when I knew augmented reality could help me get there.

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Shirley Layer, art student at Austin Peay State University. (APSU)

With quite a few TikTok followers, over 88.9,000 followers, she has become a huge TikTok sensation. Social media had a huge impact on Layer’s work and provided an outlet to share her creations.

Layer was invited to the AR House in Los Angeles to work on an app using Niantic developers Pokemon Go and VPS technology. Here, Layer came up with the idea of ​​creating a similar app aimed specifically at students at Austin Peay State University for one of its courses.


“I wanted to create an app that would let students hang out,” she said.

Using the same style as Pokemon Go, users can head to a campus hotspot and gain an augmented reality experience while learning. Students can answer trivial questions that turn into extra credit points for the class. Students can also collect digital currency to purchase real-world materials such as food.

“It’s a way for students to learn more about their campus, but you’re experiencing things in augmented reality,” Layer said. “It’s a concept and an idea for a classroom, but I want to use it for local communities.”

His successes don’t stop there.

Layer won the Student Summer Research Award during her time volunteering at the GIS Center on campus. She used her idea to create not one but two projects – a virtual reality app for the GIS Center and an augmented reality experience for her summer research exhibit.

She also got a job working in Times Square building billboards for the 2021 NFTNYC event. During that project, she juggled finishing her classes and 18-hour workdays.

“If I hadn’t had the experience of school, I never would have been able to make it,” Layer said. “Standing in Times Square and being surrounded by billboards with my work was just amazing.”


Shirley Diaper

Major: Animation and visual effects

Year of graduation: 2023

Hometown: Clarksville, TN

Involvement on campus: Volunteer at GIS Center, Clarksville Animation Club

Kayleen C. Rice