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Local photographer turns to new medium

December 15, 2018

Tatiana Shmayluk: not exactly a household name.

But Wiley Harang’s drawing of the Ukrainian metal singer is a highlight of his career as an artist.

Harang, a Rochester artist and photographer, had previously photographed the band Jinjer, and felt moved to sketch Shmayluk, the lead singer, in pencil.

Then he encountered the band again on assignment.

“It’s so wild, because I was just able to share a portrait drawing I had done of Tatiana Shmayluk with herself and her band Jinjer,” Harang said. “They’re a Ukrainian metal band that have been one of the most compelling influencers in sparking this whole idea (of drawing photographs in pencil). So that in itself was one of the neatest moments of my life.”

Harang doesn’t limit himself to mechanical pencil and paper, or his usual lenses. He takes photos of bands in concert (where he first encountered Jinjer), nature (hawks eating their prey), and even does design work.

While photography is prominent on his web page and Instagram account (@wileyharang), it’s not something he really had a passion for during his two years at Rochester Community and Technical College.

He took a photography class with instructor Suzanne Szucs, and only because he needed an art class.

Eventually, it stuck.

“It was the best class I’ve ever taken,” Harang said. “I literally had no idea what I was doing. No interest in photography whatsoever. I had borrowed a cousin’s film camera. That being said, I was 19 then. I didn’t start photographing (again) until I was 25.”

Later, Harang took a drawing class at RCTC before moving on to get his degree in graphic design. He now works as a freelance artist in Rochester.

“Currently, day-to-day creating involves various graphic design — whether that be artwork for companies, sub-contracting for things, creating art for bands, or someone wanting posters/logos, etcetera,” Harang said. “I’m also working on some commissioned portrait drawings along with my latest project that involves large-scale photorealism portraits of people.”

His specialty: artists and musicians.

Recently, he photographed singer-songwriter Lissie at First Avenue, and then headed to Ann Arbor to photograph the John Butler Trio at the Michigan Theater.

Looking back, Harang thinks his career came from projects he knew deep down to his core he had to pursue.

“There’s just been some really special moments in life where it’s felt like this is what I have to do, as cliché as that sounds,” Harang said. “Far too many reasons why, whether it’s synchronicity or those unfathomable serendipitous moments in life, it’d be silly not to act on them, you know? But when those ideas and things come to mind, they just don’t go away until you pursue them. When I started acting on them, opportunities and things really started to show themselves.

“I think the biggest reason for doing any of it at all really, is that it just wouldn’t feel right doing anything else. Creating is too wonderful. It’s easy to be inspired.”

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