STEUBENVILLE - When local artist Lillian Brue looks at the map she's labored over for the past two-plus months, she sees more than buildings and figures.
She sees a community, one she literally pieced together, building by building.
"I built a town, that's what it is," said Brue, the graphic artist behind the new Steubenville Fun Map. "I rebuilt the town, put a little color into Steubenville."
FINISHING TOUCHES — Fun Map artist Lillian Brue looks over the finished product. Brue spent more than two months capturing the nuances of the people and buildings in Steubenville, bringing them to life in her artwork.
And a lot of personality.
The 36-by-24-inch map oozes it, gently poking the personalities of the 100-plus businesses and community leaders who populate its imaginary streets in a fun, color-filled way.
It took her two-and-a-half months to do.
"Some buildings took longer than others," she said.
Like the curves of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. The "little turrets" atop Mount Zion Church or the intricacies of the D'Anniballe building.
Then there were the people. Not only did she have to capture their likeness in her design, but also the quirkiness of their individual personalities.
"They each have their own personality," she adds. "I tried to make it personal."
Growing up in eastern New Mexico, Brue - AKA Lillian Rothfuss, wife of WOGH-FM General Manager Paul Rothfuss - said she was always drawing and actually minored in art at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, N.M., in 1980.
"It was a small school, but it had the best TV station around," she said. "I was going to be a journalist. Instead of going out partying, I'd go over to the TV station and hang out. So when I was about 17, I was directing newscasts and working as art director."
After graduating, she said they moved to Orlando, Fla., where she worked first for an independent station, then a CBS affiliate, " so I was on the cutting edge when graphics became big in broadcasting" in the mid-1980s.
Brue concedes she instantly was smitten with the possibilities of computer-aided graphic design, learning the craft pretty much by trial and error.
"I learned by making mistakes, which is actually not a bad place to learn," she said. "I don't think you can ever stop pushing yourself to learn. The challenge with a project like the Fun Map is that it pushes you, it helps you grow."
For instance, she said it wasn't just a case of designing a building or person and then slapping them on the map. "I had to find a way to make them look anchored in the ground, so they weren't all floating.
"Some days I'd work 14 hours," she adds. "I'd get started at 7:30 a.m., raring to go, stop for dinner at 7 and then go back at it after. Toward the end, I had a deadline to meet. You can't mess around with deadlines."
For now, she's taking a break - a short one, since she'll soon be working on a followup - a Fun Map for the Wintersville, Richmond and Toronto area. After that will come Weirton.
Brue said she can't wait.
"The hard part is getting the personality out of each person and building," she said. "But as soon as I was done with one, I'd just start giggling because I did it."