Episode 17 – Larry Elmore (Part 1)

Episode 17 – Larry Elmore (Part 1)

Nerd Louisville sat down with legendary fantasy artist, Larry Elmore, for the podcast. We visited him at his home and studio in Leitchfield, KY. Larry was born in Louisville and holds a very special place in many nerds’ hearts for his evocative and immersive fantasy paintings. Larry is an incredibly gracious and kind host. He’s also a natural storyteller. Joe and I chatted with him for close to two hours, so we decided it’d be best to break this interview up into three parts.

Larry Elmore
Larry Elmore in his home studio in Leitchfield, Ky.

Part One chronicles Larry’s upbringing and beginnings as a fantasy artist. We end right as Larry is hired to TSR, the company that created the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game.

In Party Two, Larry tells us about his time at TSR and working to become one of the best-known fantasy artists in the industry. He also tells us about freelancing, the physical toll it took on him, and his obsession with art.

In Part Three, Larry explains how he figured out the trick to freelancing, his success with Kickstarter, and new project he has in the pipe.

We hope you enjoy!

Part I Highlights:

  • Introductions
  • Legendary fantasy artist Larry Elmore
  • Born and raised in Kentucky
  • Baptist upbringing
  • College at Western Kentucky University
  • Vietnam, the lottery system, being drafted
  • Success of senior show fantasy art
  • Throwing away a get out of Vietnam card
  • The promise of becoming a tunnel rat
  • Escaping being sent to Vietnam with art
  • Drawing portraits of wives and girlfriends at Basic
  • Working on training aids at Fort Knox and Germany
  • Getting some work in National Lampoon and Heavy Metal
  • Being a leader of artists and hurting people’s feelings
  • “Manson and his family” introducing Larry to Dungeons & Dragons
  • Larry’s first game as a dwarf fighter — “Elrod the Red”
  • Where’s the board?
  • Having a Thief in the party
  • Larry’s interest in Fantasy
  • Frazetta’s impact on Larry
  • Sense of adventure and exploration
  • Larry’s life of crime
  • Getting into fantasy fiction, Conan the Barbarian, Lord of the Rings, etc.
  • Painting fantasy covers that don’t match the actual book
  • “If the book sucks, the cover should suck too!”
  • Coming up with a signature
  • Getting published and getting work in fantasy art
  • Turning down TSR originally and then…
  • Being hired at TSR, the original publishers of Dungeons & Dragons

You can find some of Larry Elmore art at www.larryelmore.com.

The Crew:

  • Mike Pfaff
  • Joe Dunman

Intro / Outro music is The White of Noon by STRFKR, graciously provided by Polyvinyl Records.

Mike Pfaff

Mike is the co-founder of Nerd Louisville and still volunteers from time-to-time. He's been a nerd since he was first introduced to Dungeons & Dragons when he was a wee lad and continues playing to this day. You can play games with him at Slur Your Role or other Nerd Louisville events.