ef-ful-gence noun - a brilliant radiance

Many people ask me what ‘effulgence’ means, and oftentimes they’re puzzled when I tell them it’s an english word. I admit that it’s not the most common word so I don’t expect people to know what it means anyway. I stumbled upon it when I was looking for english translations of the Sanskrit word ‘jyoti’ which means light. This was around 2011 when I was in search of an alias to release my music with. Plus, it wasn’t taken by anyone else on SoundCloud! It’s stuck ever since and in many ways, it feels like it’s evolved to something much more than just a musical endeavor. I like to think of it as a pseudonym for creative output.

My journey in art began when I was 7 years old. At that time, I was living in Kathmandu, Nepal (where I was born). My father bought me a water color set and some paint brushes for my birthday. I was hooked. Painting brought so much color to my life, literally. I looked forward to getting home from school every day so I could go crazy on the back pages of my school notebook. The nuances of the paint brush taught me a lot. It forced me to loosen my hands up and to avoid being stiff, and in many ways that taught me a lot about life. At some point, I got a set of color pencils and started outlining my paintings with them. That’s when drawing started to take precedence over painting. It was a nice break from all the splatter. I started being precise and bold with each stroke. It was the perfectly opposite thing for me to learn. I was so into it that I even got published on the local newspaper!

Prayash Thapa Effulgence Art Newspaper Look ma, that’s me! The title literally translates to ‘Prayash’s Prayash.’ My name means attempt. So, I guess it’s an eloquent way of saying ‘The attempt of Attempt.’

The sad part is, they never published the actual drawing. Just a profile on me.. lame. But, the validation felt assuring, and I promised myself to push farther and harder. But my dedicated slowly waned. I kept up as much crafts as possible, but I got too busy being a hooligan and playing video games to care enough about it.

Fast forward to 11 years old when I heard my uncle strum the chords of Hotel California by The Eagles in the other room. I walked over to see a massive dreadnought guitar in his embrace. There was something about those steel strings ringing together that caught my attention. Seeing my curious face, he generously offered to teach me a few chords. I learned the typical G -> D -> C progression while he sang Knockin on Heaven’s Door. That felt so good. I was hooked! I couldn’t put the guitar down after that.

Prayash Thapa Effulgence First Guitar My first guitar that I bought in 2013, and still play to this day.

I kept creating the occasional drawing or two in high school year, and art class was definitely the one I looked forward to the most. My teacher was amazing and encouraged me to pursue it in college, and so I did. I admitted into college as a Studio Art major with an emphasis on drawing and painting, I loved every bit of it. It felt like I was re-discovering my 7 year old self.

Prayash Thapa Effulgence Nujabes Drawing I was obsessed with the freehanded geometric aesthetic. This was a tribute to Nujabes, a jazz-hop legend.

Sometime around my second year in college, I decided to enroll in an introductory programming course. I had always been the computer nerd in my family, so I thought why not? The bulky white box that dad brought home with a Windows 95 disc had me so engaged when I was a child, so I saw no harm in trying out something new. I learned programming by writing super basic programs and text-based games. One lecture specifically caught my attention: Cellular Automata. Seeing a bunch of random pixels interact with their on-screen neighbors consciously based on a few basic rules lit up a different part of my brain. Such a simple algorithm with such an entrancing visual. Maybe I can still draw and paint, but use code as my brush?

Well, no doubt. That’s when I stumbled down the rabbit hole of Computer Graphics. The revelation that I could still creatively express myself through code and make beautiful things turned my world upside down. It was the perfect definition of lazy man’s art. I define a simple set of constraints and let the computer pseudo-randomly run wild, yet somehow it can still produce something impressively artistic while I sit back and watch? Mind = blown.

Prayash Thapa Effulgence Code Graphics Visual Art Nucleactor, an audio-visualizer I coded during a hackathon.

So there it was, all in front of me. Music, visual art, and code. It was the definition of a holy trinity. The perfect blend of three worlds combined into one beautiful melting pot of logic and creativity. Nothing could be more perfect. At that point, I realized that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life: Art.