Esref Armagan was born both unsighted and to an impoverished family. As a child and young adult he never received any formal schooling or training; however, he has taught himself to write and print. He draws and paints by using his hands and primarily oil paints. In this manner, Mr. Armagan has been perfecting his art for the past thirty-five years.
He needs absolute quite when working. First, using a Braille stylus, he etches an outline of his drawing. He needs to feel that he is "inside" his painting-- in fact, when he is drawing a picture of the sea, he often wonders if he should wear a life jacket so as not drown! When he is satisfied with his drawing, he starts to apply the oils with his fingers. Because he applies only one color at a time (the colors would smear otherwise), he must wait two or three days for the color to dry before applying the next color. This method of painting is entirely unique to Mr. Armagan. He receives no assistance or training from any individual. He also learned to draw perspective.
He has also developed his own methods of doing portraits. He asks a sighted person to draw around a photograph, then he turns the paper over and feeling it with his left hand, he transfer what he feels onto another sheet of paper, later adding color. He has done portraits of the former first lady of Turkey, the current president and current prime minister.
Mr. Armagan is currently forty-one years old, married with two children. He has displayed his work at more than 20 exhibition in Turkey and in Holland and the Czech Republic. He has appeared several times on television and in the press in Turkey and has been on programs of the BBC and ZDF.