OG Vern. Photo by Annie Noelker
When Annie Noelker moved to Columbus in 2014 to attend Columbus College of Art & Design, she was already interested in stories. “As a little kid I would hide under my covers and read until I fell asleep,” she tells me. “I found visual art and storytelling in the form of drawing, painting, and then photography.” But something clicked when her college friends introduced her to hip hop artists like Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, and Frank Ocean. “I listened to their albums as if I was reading a novel,” she says.
Over the summer of 2017, Noelker dove into the Columbus hip hop and rap scene, learning more about her local community. “Overwhelmed” by talent, Noelker turned to her background in portraiture to document the burgeoning scene. As her collection of portraits grew, she realized that she needed a way to share the work. Pairing her portraits with interviews of the artists, Noelker put together a magazine: Mouth Mag. “It’s been my baby for the last six months,” she tells me.
Mouth Mag is launching this Saturday, December 9th, at Kafe Kerouac in Columbus, Ohio. The launch will be celebrated with performances by OG Vern, Yogi Split, Joey Aich, Broke Bois, Stems, Soblue, Breetherapper, The Collective, and RED. At the party, Noelker tells me, she’s most excited for “all the artists to hold their copy.”
“I worked so hard on this,” she continues, “I cried when I unwrapped the first one.”
We caught up with Noelker ahead of the launch to talk to her about her process, favorite interviews, and the future of Mouth Mag. Check out the rest of the interview below.
Audiofemme: What is your portraiture process like?
Annie Noelker: Prior to a shoot, I research the artist and listen to their music. I write down colors, places, and emotions that fill my head as I’m listening and I try to emulate those things in each photograph. I don’t plan much outside of that.