Local Fantasy Artist Larry Elmore Shares His Journey

By: Lindsey Yates Email
By: Lindsey Yates Email

"I don't gamble in Vegas but I've gambled with my life a lot, even my occupation. But that's the thrill. The adventure is getting there."

An internationally known Grayson County artist plans to self publish his first major book containing all of his work.

But the journey towards turning his passion into a career was anything but easy, but Larry Elmore would embark on an adventure to gain artistic freedom.

From the moment he fell in love with fantasy art, to his days at Western, and then his major break in the 80's that would allow him to be the artist he is today, it may sound exciting but Larry Elmore's journey would be filled with obstacles, but as he told me it's all about the thrill.

"It's like a flash happens like an image, and it's like wow in color, and you got to find one frame to paint,"says Elmore.

And then with the stroke of a brush he opens the door to a fantasy world full of adventure.

" I wanted to paint some castles and I wanted to do the Celtic people and the Celtic people didn't have castles, so one of my first big paintings I painted Celts with an ancient looking castle,"says Elmore.

With a smile he recalls the moment in his fathers clothing store he fell in love with a fantasy.

"It was a big original oil painting of a Viking Long-ship, at sea with the sails out, and I looked at that and I had never seen a ship like that before,"says Elmore.

But artistic freedom would be something earned as he learned during his first art class at WKU.

"The teacher walks in and he wads up a giant piece of paper, throws it on the floor and says draw that and he leaves, and I'm like so this is art."

Elmore's dreams would be put on hold when reality in the form of Uncle Sam came knocking.

"Here I am with a college degree and I'm going off to Vietnam to get killed in a tunnel somewhere."

He would end up going to Germany and later to Fort Knox as an illustrator, but artistic freedom was still the goal.

"At night I would work on my own stuff and freelance on the side, and then finally I got a job with TSR the company who made dungeons and dragons,"says Elmore.

TSR would be Elmore's big break, he knew it meant having his work published worldwide.

"I was 32 and I still didn't believe I was good enough. I am my biggest critic, it was the greatest place I could have ever dreamed of working. The creativity was so thick you could cut it with a knife."

He left TSR in 87, and set forth on the ultimate fantasy, building a house in Leitchfield and working unfettered from the corporate world.

"You're in control of your own destiny. It's the riskiest thing you could do and I don't advise people to do it."

Next came the years of supporting his wife and three kids armed with a brush and paint, luckily he would sell a piece for $20,000 for the Everquest computer game
launched by Sony.

"You have to have a certain mental toughness to freelance. You'll be terrified every job may be the last you get."

The freedom finally earned allows him to put 100% effort into his work.

"I was like I don't know what a 100% of me is, until I got booked up doing my own work about a year ago,"says Elmore.

And his latest quest, a 300 page book of all his work.

"I just want to see it through really good,"says Elmore.

He says the ultimate adventure is making memories.

"I don't gamble in Vegas but I've gambled with my life a lot, even my occupation. But that's the thrill. The adventure is getting there."

While the book won't be released until August Elmore says it has already created $300,000 in sales, and the book will be worth nearly 40,000.

He hopes to do another book of all his black and white sketches in the future.

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