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: