Designer on the road: Çağrı Çankaya

Çağrı Çankaya is someone who lives his dreams now, instead of in the future. He is also designer, writer and art director… Right now, he is traveling around the world as a designer and traveler. While traveling, he discovers the local culture.

First and second routes have been done and he is working on to make a programme for the third session. For more details, you could have a look to our interview withÇağrı.

What does Çağrı Çankaya do? What did he do before ‘Designer on the Road’?

Design and illustration are my main subjects. Besides these, I have also written for various gaming and design magazines and still do for two of them, where one of them is based in China and the other in India. I also used to work as an art director in advertising agencies before Designer on the Road.

What pulled you into this journey?

I was so bored with my life that I didn’t even feel scared to begin something this crazy. Seeing the world was always my dream, but I didn’t have enough money to fulfill this dream. So I asked myself why I didn’t do it using design. I really had nothing to lose. I wasn’t satisfied with my job, I didn’t have a girlfriend, I wasn’t paying mortgage, I wasn’t taking care of someone who needed me; so it wasn’t that hard to decide. I also thought that I wouldn’t be able to do anything like this later, even if I wanted to, this was my last chance. So it kind of began as ‘it’s now or never.’

What’s your biggest problem?

There are lots; I don’t even know which one to write about. My life changes every 3-4 weeks. My bed, the street, where I work, friends, customers, culture, language, currency, climate, air, even food… That is kind of tiring. Whenever you start a new job, intentionally or not, you want to prove yourself. I do this every 4 weeks. Just as I get used to the agency, the people, the processes, learn people’s names, I get to leave and begin again somewhere else in the world.

What do these journeys add to you?

It’s really hard to put this into words. You need to live it. Personally I can’t think of anything that improves a person more than travelling. Neither schools, nor books can improve a person more. Especially if you’re travelling like me, then you learn lots– and I mean lots– and get increadibly improved.

Before I started this, I was literally a different person. Now I feel much different, much better. After all, I’m not a tourist. Everywhere I go, I work, I become friends with the locals, I create projects with them, I do jobs, I communicate, sometimes I stay at their homes, I eat local foods instead eating in luxurious restourants. If you’re travelling with money, your communication with other people diminishes automatically.

If you have money, you wouldn’t feel the need to communicate with people; you would eat world cuisine in luxurious places, stay in a 5 star hotel and return without understanding the culture. After all, 5 star hotels or luxurious restaurants provide similar services all around the globe. But I live like a local wherever I go. I am at wherever the people are, I do whatever they do and eat whatever they eat. This is both beautiful and hard. After all, local restaurants are for the locals and their bodies might be immune to some bacterias in the food. Since my metabolism is not used to this, I can get sick very easily and even get poisoned and have gastric bleedings.

What I do is not easy. Not everyone can do this, but because this was my dream and my own project, I have fun. When I look back, it’s definitely worth the trouble.

How do you plan? You take care of serious logistical problems, different cultures, countries, people… Eating, drinking, sleeping, the air, the water… I’m sure everything is different… Can you say‘I’m glad I’m on this trip’ in every country you go?

I google companies and agencies and then mail them all. For example, I sent 1048 mails for my first route. Of course, it’s much easier now. After the content appeared in the blog, it was easier to arrange the second route and make agencies believe me. At first, everyone was suspicious. I can totally understand them. This is a first and lots of problems and question marks appear in people’s minds.

How much should they pay me, I have no place to stay, I don’t know about the local culture, language, typography. So, why would they invite a Turkish guy to the agency? When they can easily find a designer in their own countries, why would they take such a risk? People want to stay away from what they don’t know. Hence, it took time to create the first route.

Sometimes I ask myself“what the hell am I doing?” I live through some very hard times but as I said, even in the hardest of them I say I won’t die anyway and keep on going. I guess I’m a bit used to it now. Even in the simplest of stories my friends say they wouldn’t be able to do it and would return.

3rd stage is beginning, right? Will there be any differences with the first two? Can you shortly summarize for us your planning stages? Is there anything else you need for this stage?

Yes, I finished the first two routes. I decide on 6 places for each route and begin my journey. This time, I’m thingking of Europe and South America. If anyone who has friends or connections in agencies, magazines, newspapers can reach me via e-mail , I would really appreciate it.

How can your followers help you? Also what kind of sponsorships do you need?

The greatest help I want from my followers is for them to make more people know about me and my project with their sharings in the social media. After all, I’m doing something outside the system and trying to prove what can be done using design.

This is important. It’s especially a bigger success to be able to do it as a Turkish citizen. It’s not really easy for our citizens to travel. When I decided to begin this, many people couldn’t believe me. From Massimo Vignelli to my father, everyone tried to tell me this was impossible. I see myself as the living proof that nothing is impossible if you really want it. Therefore, I want to reach more people and encourage them to live the life they dream of.

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