Larry Elmore

Elmore is a fantasy classic. His work is well known to those who love fantasy art as well as most RPG gamers. He worked for TSR for a time, showcasing most of his illustrations on fantasy RPG manuals and related stuff. Larry Elmore, resides in Leitchfield, Kentucky, with his wife, Betty and two children, Jennifer and Jeremy.

In 1971, Larry received his BFA degree from Western Kentucky University, was drafted into the army, and was married - all within four months' time. "It seems as if life started speeding up at that point, and it hasn't slowed down since." After the army in 1973, Larry began his career in art, working as an illustrator for the United States government.

In the late 70's he was first published commercially in National Lampoon and Heavy Metal magazines. In 1981, he moved to Lake Geneva, WI, to become a cover artist for TSR, Inc. While at TSR, Larry played a key role in developing a completely new look for the products - a look that carried over into the rest of the role-playing industry. Because of this, Larry is one of the most widely known artists in this industry. His covers on the DRAGONLANCE series helped put these books on the bestsellers lists.

Because Larry and his wife wanted to move back to their hometown in Kentucky, Larry left TSR in the fall of 1987 and started working freelance. Since then, he has worked for a diversity of companies, from computer games to paperback publishers, including Bantam Books, BAEN Books, Warner Books, Ace/Berkley, Doubleday, and Del Rey. He has used a totally different style of art for companies such as Lucas Films, Western Publishing, LJN Toys, Tonka Toys, Mattel, Monogram Models, and Lindberg Models. He has also been published in the comic book industry by D.C. Comics and others.

Larry continued to work in the role-playing game industry by doing projects for TSR, Inc., FASA, Mayfair Games, Games Designer's Workshop, White Wolf, Iron Crown Enterprises, Dragon Magazine, Amazing Magazine, and several game-related products. Each year, Mr. Elmore is a guest at several Fantasy & Science Fiction conventions held in the United States, and on some occasions, in Europe. He has met many fans from countries throughout Europe. His original paintings have been purchased by collectors throughout the United States and in Europe.

Since leaving TSR in 1987, the company and Mr. Elmore continued to keep a line of communications open, discussing the possibility of re-employment. After some months of discussion Larry and TSR came to an agreement, and in September 1993, Larry started working for TSR again while remaining in his home state of Kentucky.

In January 1996, Larry discontinued his employment with TSR and returned to his career as a freelance illustrator, but continues to do some freelance work for TSR. Currently Larry is working on book and game covers. His latest endeavor is a book, co-written by his cousin Robert Elmore. The "Runes of Autumn", released in July '96 by TSR.

Larry Elmore will continue to produce limited edition prints and other products which he feel represent the best of his work. These may be purchased directly from Elmore Productions, Inc. If you would like to be placed on his mailing list, send a card with your name and address to: Elmore Productions, Inc. P.O. Box 358, Leitchfield, KY 42755.

During the past two years He has had a growing desire to do more paintings from his own ideas. Larry has been gearing his career in a direction that will give him more time and opportunities to do artwork that better reflects his own interpretation of fantasy art.

Official website : et

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General Background Info:

Born: Louisville, Kentucky

Date of Birth: August 5, 1948

Resides: Leitchfield, Kentucky

Family: Wife, Son, and Daughter

College: BFA Degree KY University

Pets: Dog (Max)


Beverage: Coffee (Black)

Food: Steak or Fried Chicken

Movie: Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan

Book: History books (Any)

Sports: College Basketball

Team: University of Kentucky

Music: Modern Day Rock & Blues

Hobbies: Old Cars

Quote: "Do your best, & guess the rest!"

Larry Elmore is a very prolific and talented artist. His style and flair have reshaped and brought to life many different gaming universes. He has, without knowing, set the standard for Fantasy Art. Ever since his beginnings in 1981 when he worked for TSR, until this day as a freelance artist, his work is highly sought after and is very visible on all products that it may happen to grace. Elmore has a very generous and warm spirit. At the many Conventions he attends every year, fans find him very approachable, in fact, a crowd favorite, sincere and always accommodating with all who speak with him.

AoA: What began your career as an artist?

Elmore: I was drawing ever since I can remember. Went to college and majored in Art. It was the only thing I could do (Laughs), that or pump gas.

AoA: What was your first commercially published artwork?

Elmore: Probably National Lampoon back in 1978 I guess. It was a Trojan Horse painting, but it wasn't a horse… (Laughs). It was a great way to get your career started.

AoA: How tough was it for you to get your first work published?

Elmore: Well, I was working at Ft. Knox as an Illustrator and I met a guy there. He was in the military and worked with us for about two years as a military Illustrator. He was into writing gags, cartoons, and stuff. He wanted to be a gag writer or comic book writer. He somehow got connected with somebody writing for National Lampoon. He got out of the army and moved away. Later, he wrote me a letter saying why don't I send something to him for Lampoon? So I did a three-page comedy book of how I didn't think I was ready to be published yet. The guy saw the letter and sent it to Lampoon. They called me at work and gave me a job.

AoA: When did you realize that you wanted to make a career out of being an artist? Was it at this point in your life?

Elmore: Well, I knew I would be an Illustrator no matter what. I knew that, forever, I guess. I didn't think I would end up being a Freelance Illustrator, and I didn't expect what I'd be doing today. I have exceeded my expectations, but I was trying to make a living as an artist. I wanted to paint for myself, and I haven't had a chance to paint for myself for twenty-years (Laughs). Every once in a while, I will sneak in something of my own.

AoA: You started working with TSR in 1981. How did that come about?

Elmore: At Ft. Knox, where I worked, they hired a new guy. After many months being there he started telling us about this game D&D (Dungeons & Dragons). He wanted us to play it with him. He asked us for over a year. We said, all right, quit hounding us, and we will play this stupid game. The art looked so bad, we thought the game was bad. We played the game, and the game was fantastic. He said since the art is so bad, why don't we send in some samples? Maybe we can do some work for them. He said that he would send some samples in, I said, okay fine. Well, he procrastinated for about six months. Finally, one day, he wrote a letter and was sending them some samples. He said you have some 35mm slides. Give me some slides, and I will stick them in here, and I will say that this is also a friend of mine that does art. I said, okay, I don't have anything to lose. In about two weeks, I got a phone call at work, and they (TSR) wanted to give me a freelance job.

AoA: What about your friend?

Elmore: His stuff was more "cartoony" and they didn't want to use him. He got really [upset]. I said, I'm sorry man. It was your idea, not mine (Laughs)

AoA: How did you move from Freelance to full time staff ?

Elmore: I did a project for them, and then they wanted to hire me. I said, no. I was an assistant Supervisor at [Ft. Knox]. Working with the Government, was a good secure job at that time, and I was making pretty good money. I said I don't know if I want to [move to Wisconsin]. I had just bought a new house in Kentucky. I wasn't up for moving. The president of the company flew out, Kevin Blume. He came down, and I picked him up at the airport and brought him home. He sat at the table with me and my wife and said what will it take to get you to come to TSR and work for us? I said, I don't know. I really didn't want to. I just bought a new house. He said, "We will take care of the house", and [doubled his current salary as a Military Illustrator]. I said my wife works here also. He said we would give her a job also. I said man, that's a ton of money. All right, you bought me! (Laughs). We moved to Wisconsin, and they (TSR) bought my old house and resold it. They treated me really good, and, then, everything I did was published. AoA: What are your fondest memories from that time?

Elmore: Without going into to much detail, mid-'80's, our whole art department. We just had a blast. I was working with Clyde Caldwell, Jeff Easley, Keith Parkinson, Jeff Butler, and Dave LaForce. All in one big room, and we were painting, I guess, "Classic" period heyday of TSR. Dragonlance was going on along with the other D&D stuff. We just had a blast. We worked hard and played harder. We had big rubber band fights in the studio, played darts everyday. We had a good time.

AoA: Did you do much gaming at that point in time? Elmore: We ran a game. Keith Parkinson was a real good DM (Dungeon Master). He ran a game for about three years, a continuing game. We played every day at lunch and met at somebody's house about once a month and played all-night.

AoA: You departed TSR in 1987. Was that to expand your art in different areas?

Elmore: There were many things going on. I was trying to keep a full schedule [Paintings per year]. I was brought up, a good ole' Southern boy, that you work hard and do the best you can. I was trying to do all my paintings, and was given the Supervisor of the Art Department. I was spending more time in meetings and not enough time painting. I did not want to supervise, I wanted to paint. So I thought that I was at the point that I had to make a decision. So, since TSR was more management than painting, I decided to quit them and to Freelance.

AoA: In 1993 you returned to work for TSR. But, apparently, with the condition that you live in Kentucky?

Elmore: Well, what happened, I went Freelance, and in 1991 I had a stroke. All the work I was doing, working ninety hours a week, week in and week out, caught up with me. So I had the stroke, and my health insurance went up, quite a bit. So TSR called me up and offered me a job. They doubled my old salary, and they said I could stay in Kentucky and work for them. So I jumped on that. I worked for them for two years. Then I quit them again (Laughs) and went back to Freelancing. TSR has always treated me well. AoA: Are you doing any projects for Wizards/TSR?

Elmore: Well I just did some Magic the Gathering game cards for them. Last year they called me up, and I said it's about time I do something. Everybody that I know, and their Grandmother, has done Magic cards but me. So I took on two, and then they called me again about a month ago, and I did three more. I also did a couple of paintings for the new Monster Manual [D&D 3rd Edition].

AoA: You even did a little writing of pen instead of brush, with a book called "Runes of Autumn." What inspired you to write?

Elmore: Well, I have all kind of stories in my mind. I come from a line of storytellers. My family, the way they use to pass time when I was a kid, was people would get together and tell stories. I lived in rural Kentucky in the early '50's, and there wasn't even electricity in a lot of places. People would get together, make music and tell stories. You learn to become a pretty good yarn spinner or good liar (Laughs) over the years. [Had trouble sleeping] I would go bed at 2 am but not be able to sleep until 4 am. When I would try to sleep I would start a story. I would just continue the story. That's how I came up with "Runes of Autumn." I have a ton of stories. I have thought about taking a writing class. Didn't take writing seriously in college, because I was going to become an artist. But as I get older, it's like, well, there are other ways for creativity to come out.

AoA: What part of the creation did you have with the "Sovereign Stone RPG?"

Elmore: I told Margaret [Weis] and Don [Perrin] things that I would like the game to be like. Didn't want the rules to get in the way of the game play. Just basic things, and they took over from there.

AoA: What is its current status?

Elmore: The basic game is being printed now. They want to have it ready for GenCon [2000]. There will also be two other book supplements coming out ready for GenCon. The first Hardcover novel [Well of Darkness] will be out soon. Written by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.

AoA: What rewards do you get from being a successful artist? Not necessarily the monetary?

Elmore: Where you least expect it. It really humbles me going to conventions and meeting people. I like people, like talking to people. You always run into a few, that I don't know how, but somebody you have affected their lives in some way. I know this one guy, he was at a convention. He had this old ratty Dragonlance book. It looked like it had been wallowed in death. I was at my table, and he waited until nobody was around. He came up and told me, "I want to thank you for changing my life." I said, but how? He said when he was a Junior he couldn't read, didn't want to read. Would not take the time to read. He said he saw this book with my cover on it. He bought it, and his mom read it to him at nights. His mom went back and bought the other two books in the series. He had the last book in the series. He said that because of the cover he wanted to learn to read. He was in college now, and he just starts crying in front of me. It meant so much to him. It was real touching.

AoA: When did you realize that you were an accomplished artist?

Elmore: You never realize it.

AoA: Even to this day?

Elmore: No. You always try to get better and to make your next painting a better painting. I think if you are a serious painter that you want to be able to paint well. That's all. What I want to do next year is do more paintings for myself. Which will still be fantasy, but I think they will be better paintings. They will be a higher quality paintings. I feel as though I have worked my whole life for that. But I want to be able to be a good painter. That's it. So I never have thought I've made it. There never has been a time for me to relax or to coast. Just a working artist trying to make a better painting. I never, ever, think of myself as "I am Larry Elmore".

AoA: How does it feel when you see your works in print?

Elmore: You get used to it. That's what you do. It's still exciting.

AoA: Looking back, if you had to do something different, what would it be?

Elmore: I would have started younger. There are times I got into very deep ruts. I took on too much work and did some bad paintings. You wish you didn't do bad paintings.

AoA: What? You mean you are not a god?

Elmore: (Laughs) No. I was just brought up to be a hard worker. It is hard for me to turn down work. So I always overbook myself.

AoA: In closing, what words of wisdom or special insight would you like to say to our readers?

Elmore: Whatever you want to do. Art, writing, or whatever it is, if you want to be successful at it, you must give it 200%.