Eşref Armağan was born blind to an impoverished family. As a child and young adult, he never received any formal schooling or training; however, he taught himself to write and print. At 6 years old Armağan began to draw with paper and pencil and later he started painting with oil paints on poster paper. Ten years ago he discovered that acrylics dried quickly and that he could paint directly on canvas. He started painting for his own pleasure: for his curiosity and for the satisfaction of knowing that the things he could create, without the help of others, could correspond with reality.
Armağan needs absolute quite when he is working. First, using a Braille stylus, he etches an outline of his drawing. He needs to feel that he is "inside" his painting. Armağan receives no assistance or training from any individual. He draws and paints by using his hands. When he draws for others to see, he uses his right hand: he traces lines and makes impressions on paper that is placed on a rubberized slate. At the same time, Armağan feels his traced lines with his left hand. 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, he must wait two or three days for the color to dry before applying the next color. In this manner, Armağan has been perfecting his art for the past 35 years. He has also developed his own methods of doing portraits. Armağan asks someone 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.
Armağan has had more than 20 exhibitions in many cities in Turkey as well as in New York, Chicago, Shanghai, Assisi, Italy, the Czech Republic, Rotterdam and Northern Cyprus. There have been newspaper articles written about him and he has appeared on Turkish television as well as CNN, BBC and ZDF. In recent years, Armağan has visited Harvard University and was Turkey′s only representative at the VS Arts Festival (the equivalent of Special Olympics and also sponsored by the Kennedy family) in Washington, DC. Documentaries on Armağan have been made by the British, Turks, Koreans and Americans.