Arpana Rayamajhi : Mixing Art With Ambition
Arpana Rayamajhi was born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal; a place that would play a signi cant role in her endeavors. Harking back to her own heritage and taking inspiration from cultures around the world she founded her jewelry brand in 2014 and has been producing inimitable handmade pieces.
You can see her uniqueness in her jewelry and also in her personal style. We had an online conversation with her where we asked about her inspirations and connection to home. Arpana now lives and works in New York City. In addition to her artwork and jewelry practices, she is also the co-founder of DISPOSE, an online magazine collection of disposable photographs that narrate the day of an individual.
WHAT GOT YOU INTO DESIGNING JEWELRY AT FIRST AND WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
AR: I started making jewelry (professionally) when I was in college, Cooper Union School of Art. Partly because I was broke and partly because I wanted a one-of-a-kind pieces myself. And upon graduation in 2015, I started sharing it with the world. As cliché as it sounds, inspiration is everywhere. But most things that inspire me are a direct re ection of my interest: my love for Rock and Roll, art, movies, books, cultures around the world, nature, socio-political issues. If I was only inspired by a few things, my work would be stagnant and I couldn’t move forward and as with everything in life, inspirations are always changing.
WHAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER AS YOUR FIRST NOTEWORTHY ACHIEVEMENT IN YOUR CAREER?
AR: Being picked up by Marjon Carlos, senior writer/ editor of Vogue USA was the start of it all. It started slow, but then by spring 2016, my work started gaining popularity. Working with L’Oreal make up in two campaigns, one of which is a TV advertisement that premiered during the Golden Globes on January 8, working with Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Paris 2016, doing a live interview for New York Times 30 under 30, and currently working with Lufthansa airlines #Heimweh video that we shot in Nepal in January 2017. The rst led to many wonderful connections and opportunities that I will always be very thankful for. And really, I feel like I am just working. I haven’t really achieved anything and the meaning of “achievement” seems to change with how much one work does and how the meaning of your work and your own self because of time.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT NEPAL?
AR: What do I love most? Where would I start? The fact that it is home and I spent all my life there till I was 24, Daal Bhaat Tarkari, Basantapur Durbar Square, Sagarmatha( that I have never seen in real life), Terai, Pahad, Himal, the people, the culture, THE JEWELRY!, the arts, crafts, temples, nature. What is there not to love about Nepal besides the politics and sometimes also laziness? haha!
DO YOU PLAN ON COMING INTO THE NEPALESE MARKET? WHAT SORT OF SCOPE DO YOU SEE FOR YOUR PRODUCTS? IF YOU WERE TO ENTER THE LOCAL MARKET, HOW WOULD YOUR PRODUCTS DIFFER FROM WHAT IT IS NOW?
AR: As of now I have no plans of coming to the Nepali market. I can see few people enjoy my work but also it does not t the aesthetics, the trends and the price range for most people. I would however, like to show my work in Nepal and see the reactions from people because I feel like a lot of people would say “Yesto pani gahana huncha?” or “Ke ho yo?” or “I can’t see most people wear it” and that would be a fun experience. If I was to sell in Nepal, I would have to mass produce it and that would change my work drastically. Nepal is not a consumerist society: it’s changing but I like that it is not (yet) hyper materialistic over all. Things you buy can sometimes consume you, and a culture that promotes consumerism as much as the USA and Europe, I think will not last very long.
IF NOT THIS, WHAT DO YOU SEE YOURSELF DOING? WHY?
AR: I would do something creative because it’s who I am as a person. I couldn’t do anything besides art, be it music or acting although politics has always been a matter of interest, but I also despise the whole thing, and it would change me completely as a person since ethics and responsibilities would be questioned and compromised a lot. But I would say, designing clothes, making music and acting is most likely what I would do.
WHAT LIFE LESSONS HAVE YOU LEARNED IN THE LAST 5 YEARS? HOW HAS DOING WHAT YOU DO CHANGED YOU?
AR: We are all going to die. Nothing is permanent. The only thing one can change is oneself and that is the most effective form of change.
Working on my own art and business has given me a sense of independence I have always longed for. Being an artist means celebrating life and ideas and it has given me a platform to communicate my ideas with the world. It has helped me see things differently and most importantly, it has made me spend a lot (and I mean A LOT!) of time all by myself, and connected me to myself more.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU LIKE DOING? ANY INTERESTING HOBBIES OR PASTIMES?
AR: I do not have hobbies. I like playing the guitar and singing, I like reading about herbs and plants, I like dancing, I love watching nature documentaries and documentaries about the world in general. I watch a lot of movies. I love being at the beach and playing in the ocean, I love astronomy and haha! As cheesy as this sounds, I love reading and thinking about the origin of this universe and why I am here.
NAME 3 PET PEEVES THAT ABSOLUTELY DRIVE YOU NUTS.
AR: When someone cuts me off as I am speaking and doesn’t let me nish my thought. - Being too attached to one’s identity (be it gender, spiritual, religious, racial or whatever form of identity it may be) and always talking about it and not doing anything about it. - When people make fun of vegetarians or vegans for their life choices (even though I am not one). This one is really problematic for me because it’s being really inconsiderate of someone’s life choices that they care about because they don’t want to hurt anyone. We wouldn’t make fun of someone who doesn’t like sports over music would we? And if you did, you’re just not a cool person at all.
WHERE DO YOU HANGOUT WHEN YOU COME TO NEPAL? AND A PLACE THAT YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO VISIT WHEN YOU COME HERE.
AR: I do not have a speci c hangout spot and if so, I wouldn’t like to disclose it! I like Basantapur and Thamel in general, Bouddha, and anywhere with good Newari food, jewels, fabrics and textiles. My perspective of Nepal has changed a lot. And since I am not living in Nepal at the moment, I like local food joints that serve really good (of course clean!) Newari and local foods. I don’t even go out in NYC so much unless my favorite band or DJ is playing or something along that line so I have zero idea where the “spot to be” is. Ah! This would make my buddies happy- FUZZ FACTORY PRODUCTION is the spot to hang out for me!
To check out her work you can see her designs in her social media sites:
https://www.facebook. com/Arpana- Rayamajhi-425674504163543/