by Burak Akinci
ANKARA, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- A Turkish self-taught artist and traveller draws the sites around the world that he visits on simple paper coffee cups he uses as canvas to fund his globetrotting passion.
Berk Armagan, a 26-year-old young man from Istanbul, Turkey's cultural and financial hub, put his drawing potential to good use.
"I didn't get a formal education. It's an ability and since my childhood I have been interested in drawing. I am trying to excel in this craft, thus everyday and every trip is a challenge," Armagan told Xinhua during an interview in Ankara.
"A couple of years ago, in 2015, I needed to find a present for a friend's birthday and I wanted something meaningful. I picked up a used paper coffee cup and had the idea of drawing a scenery on it and gifted to him," he said.
Following this first piece of "art," he gathered followers on social media, where the use of plain paper cups drew considerable attention.
While painters traditionally use a canvas to express themselves, Armagan uses paper cups, a unique but ephemeral tool, as his medium to reach a wider audience, and brands it as an artwork.
He puts up all of his work for sale to fund his travels while also contributing to social responsibility projects such as supplying food and shelters to stray cats and dogs in Turkey.
But his first and foremost obsession is to discover new lands and people.
"I didn't have enough money to travel around the world, my ultimate goal, so one day I had an idea: I started to draw on cups which people were throwing away in garbage bins. It snowballed after this," he said with a happy smile on his face.
He began selling his cup art in 2016. Since then, he has visited 57 cities in 25 countries, and remote places such as Alaska in the United States, mostly with the money he saved from selling his works.
Usually, Armagan decides what to draw before visiting a place, but he also draws on the spot if he is inspired by a street or building. He's never without his paper cups as all drawings are made on the road.
Armagan studies to become a Turkish language teacher at Istanbul University and one of his most prominent wishes is to visit China and to draw some of its landmarks to add to his collection.
"I travelled to Japan and South Korea but I would love to go to China in the near future. It's a nation with a very ancient history and culture and I will have no problem whatsoever to find a landmark to draw as there are so many there," said the artist.
"I am driven by the passion of travelling on our beloved planet. That's my goal," remarked Armagan. "This is what I want to do with my life, to draw incessantly and visit the world with my paper cups."
The coronavirus pandemic has slowed his tours amid travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the deadly virus, but it did not entirely put a halt to them.
"I am not afraid to take a bit of risk actually. I just recently returned from a ten-day trip to Alaska and I'm ready to put my stuff in my backpack and get on the road as soon as possible," he added.