This Traveling Artist Brings Life to Paper Cups

Paper cups are used as a canvas by Istanbul artist Berk Armağan to create paintings and drawings, which have earned him a following of fans and well-wishers as he sells them to finance his travels.
Mario L. Major

It’s been the dream of many people to combine their professional passion with travel, and one Turkish artist is finding a way to do this in a unique and inspiring way. Instead of documenting his travels with dozens of shareable photographs, one man decided instead to create drawings and paintings of memorable locations or scenes on a paper cup.


Artist Berk Armağan is from Istanbul, the famed metropolis in Turkey which offers incredible views in and around the Bosphorus Strait, a waterway connecting the continents of Europe and Asia. The idea started two years ago when he made a drawing on a cup for a friend as a surprise: The artist’s friend is a Starbuck’s regular, Armağan recalls, which he shares to help his followers “understand how the idea came to [his] mind.” With more encouragement, he began to create more and more of the miniature pieces, most of which in the beginning featured historic and well-known sites around the city.

After some time, however, he realized that he wanted to capture images of places both around Turkey and abroad. There was the financial consideration—travelling requires funds. He used a bit of imagination and decided to kill two birds with one stone: continue creating the work, and sell them to finance more trips with the profits. The project began more than a year ago in October 2016, and his decision to use his hobby to ignite his creativity has paid off well for the artist.

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According to the most recent tally, he has seen a total of 36 cities in 19 countries, in large part thanks to the money he has generated from selling his work. He also made the wise decision to share his work on social media to launch a one-man branding operation. Some of the highlights include architectural points of interest in Dresden and Belgrade and using the ‘cup canvas’ to reimagine works of well-noted artists like Vincent van Gogh. He has set his sights on South American for the next big phase of his travel.

Corporate Waste Can Become the Next Art Piece

This Traveling Artist Brings Life to Paper Cups
Source: Christian Faur
This Traveling Artist Brings Life to Paper Cups
Source: Nick Gentry

Beyond the much-reported environmental consequences associated with mass production and the flood of products in the global market, one positive development to come from this is that artists have more creative and at times original, materials to work with. One example is artist Christian Faour, who sets crayons as various angles to create stunning portraits: “Because of the three-dimensional nature of the crayons, the individual surface images appear to change form as one moves about the gallery space. The images completely disappear when viewed from close up, allowing one to read the horizontally sequenced crayon text and to take in the beautifully colored crayon tips — all the while being reminded of that first box of crayons.” Another artist who has chosen to work with interesting material is Nick Gentry, who uses old floppy disks as a canvas. Underneath the choice is Gentry’s desire to analyze the effects of Internet culture.

Whether the artist is using the medium to fund an adventure or provide social commentary, the effect is essentially the same: eliciting a response that brings hope, or insight, in relation to the world around us.

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