By Kristin Rover
More than 10 years ago Sue Watson began creating pieces of artwork that have become resources for residents and small businesses in communities in Ohio and beyond.
The artist creates maps of small towns and villages that feature businesses and other landmarks in the area, and this year, she will be completing a map of the village of Amelia.
“Once a year I pick a local area and do a map,” Watson, who lives in Northern Kentucky, said. “They are primarily to make people aware of the local area, so they can spend money in the local area and support the local economy.”
Watson’s creations are not a typical map. They are illustrations of businesses, organizations, parks and other landmarks in the community organized into a map that has distinct character.
On the back of the map, businesses are listed out with contact information and a blurb about what services they offer.
Watson also said she squeezes in some cartoon illustrations of individuals she meets along the way, as well as her children, on each of her maps.
“All of my children are on there,” she said. “And they have to find themselves.”
Watson said a business owner with the Amelia Business Association contacted her about doing a map of the village of Amelia after seeing one of her maps.
“They asked if I would come give a presentation and I did,” Watson said.
Watson said many business owners were interested in being a part of the map, and she already has more than 30 businesses that have paid to be on the map.
Watson said she makes the map affordable for businesses, and then provides the maps to the businesses and organizations to give to residents in the community.
“I think this is fantastic,” Mayor Todd Hart said about Watson making a map of the village. “We get a lot of new people in the area, this is what we will give them.”
Watson said she believes the maps help people in the area become aware of what businesses, parks, and landmarks are local and enables them to support local businesses.
“It lifts up the local economy,” Watson said.
She said she enjoys the energy that the maps create in a town after they are released.
“When the maps come out there is an electricity that goes through the town,” Watson said.
Watson said the process of creating the maps takes several months.
“Once I know what area I am going to do, I talk to each of the businesses in that area,” Watson said. “I talk to cities, look at parks and then I take pictures of everything.”
She said next, she lays out the town and begins drawing in the buildings, signs and characters.
Watson said she enjoys meeting many interesting people while she makes her maps.
“It kind of fills up my soul to meet all of these very neat people,” she said.
Watson said she has created hundreds of maps for different cities and towns across the country. She said she had created maps in Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Missouri, and more.
This will be Watson’s first map of a town in Clermont County.
She said she is hoping to finish the map of Amelia before Black Friday in November.
For more information about Watson and her drawings visit www.townartist.net.