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Cover Worthy

Photographer Brian K. Powers captured this portrait of Murphy Darden for the cover February 2019 issue.
Encore covers deserving a second look

For Encore‘s staff, there’s nothing more fun — or fraught with angst — than deciding which image should grace the magazine’s cover each month.

When the magazine started in 1973, publication production was a very different animal than it is today, and full-color imagery was an expensive printing option. The magazine’s cover that first year was usually a black-and-white photo on a single-color background. By the next year, the financial success of the magazine allowed it to occasionally feature full-color covers (but mostly black-and-white interiors). The first was a portrait of then-Western Michigan University President John Bernhard and his wife, Ramona.

Technology increasingly made color imagery more accessible and affordable, and by the early 2000s the entire magazine was printed in full color. Now it’s something we all just take for granted.


Photography is an undeniably critical component of any magazine, especially Encore, which has been able to enjoy the talents of many area photographers, including Don Rice, John Gilroy and currently the very gifted Brian K. Powers. And while not every cover of Encore is a photo — some are illustrations, collages or graphic illustrations — the imagery we feature is always the most-talked-about aspect of the magazine. It is a credit to the aesthetic talents of longtime designer Peter Brakeman, of Brakeman Design, who laid out the magazine for more than 30 years, and Alexis Stubelt, who has made our pages sparkle since 2013, that our covers have been such a pleasure to behold over the years.

Here are some of our more memorable Encore covers from the past 50 years:

It is unknown where the image for the January 1980 cover came from but the color palette and dot pattern is reflective of the times.
It’s not clear whether Don Rice or Jim Riegel took this photo of 85-year-old Western Michigan University graduate Lina Marshall for the April 1981 issue. Both photographers are listed in the staff box.
It is believed that Ann Wilbur Conroy provided this sunset photo for the February 1983 issue, which featured a story about her global sailing adventures.
Fred Ashby created this illustration for the cover of the April 1984 issue.
It is believed Don Rice took this portrait of Kalamazoo baker Judy Sarkozy for the February 1993 issue.
The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra provided this photo of its conductor, Raymond Harvey, for the cover of the September 1999 issue.
The portrait by photographer John Gilroy of Ed Bernard, founder of Bermo Enterprises, a clothing retailer, with two of his employees, graced the January 2003 cover.
Banjo musician Rock Bartley plays as the sun goes down in this illuminating photo taken for the December 2012 cover.
Writer Bonnie Jo Campbell posed in the barn of her childhood home in Comstock for this Brian K. Powers portrait featured on the October 2015 cover.
Singer Matt Giraud and American Idol contestant gave us a dose of humor in this January 2016 cover shot by Brian K. Powers.
Brian K. Powers reveals the simple beauty of blues guitarist Dave Beckman’s well-played 1987 National Duolian guitar for the June 2016 cover.
Cosplayers David Perrigo (Dr. Doom) and Matt Perrigo (Captain America) are photobombed by an unknown princess for our February 2018 cover taken by Brian K. Powers that featured the Kalamazoo cosplay scene.
Guitar guru Rendal Wall is photographed at Heritage Guitar by Brian K. Powers for our November 2018 cover
For a cover that captured a pandemic moment for posterity, Brian K. Powers snapped this photo of the Houchins family of Kalamazoo for his Porch Portrait project featured in the May 2020 issue.
Speaking of porches, Sue Visser pokes her head out to greet visitors on the porch of her home in Texas Township for our November 2020 cover.

Encore Magazine

Encore Magazine is Southwest Michigan’s Magazine, bringing readers intriguing images and stories of the good things, good works and great people of our corner of the mitten. Published 12 times a year, Encore in its fifth decade of serving Southwest Michigan, carrying on a historic tradition of being the premier lifestyle publication of the greater Kalamazoo area.

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