Especially in the 80s and early 90s, roleplaying games had a distinctive look because of the relatively small pool of prolific artists bringing their worlds to life. Giants like Larry Elmore, Jeff Easley, and Clyde Caldwell defined certain facets of the D&D lines with their iconic covers. Other talented artists defined the looks of other games, so much so that you’d see their work and immediately think of the game.
Some of my favorites artists were better known for interior illustrations or magazine covers. For instance, I was always more interested in reading a module if it included Jeff Dee artwork. I particularly loved his incarnation of the Elric-mythos characters in the original Deities & Demigods (still one of my prized gaming possessions).
Another favorite is Den Beauvais, who created the most enduring and memorable Dragon magazine covers. One of the thrills of my freelancing career was seeing a few new Beauvais pieces added to the Forgotten Realms Spellfire set I designed, expecting the cards would include only existing artwork.
I couldn’t possibly list all of the artists whose work I loved during that period, but I’m delighted every time I see something new from them. Check out Scott Taylor’s site for more on another editor’s love of that era’s artwork.
Who are some of your favorite RPG artists whose work you’d like to see more often?