Life! People and Ideas

How rejection showed a supposed-to-be nautical student the path to being a winning artist

Fine Arts student, whose artwork won the top prize of national art contest, says fate made him an artist

How rejection showed a supposed-to-be nautical student the path to being a winning artist

Clark Myer Arquio creates his artworks using different mediums and tools. |Clark Myer Arquio

He could have been a seaman today if not for his nautical scholarship being rejected.

So he looked elsewhere for success, turning a failure into an opportunity to go into another field of expertise where he eventually succeeded and excelled.

Clark Myer Arquio is now a 22-year-old, fourth year Fine Arts student majoring in Studio Design at the University of the Philippines Cebu (UP Cebu).

This is a far cry from what path that could have been expected of him to follow — that of a seafarer.

This is because Arquio’s siblings and father are seafarers.

READ: Cebu artist breaks through int’l art scene with his paintings on child, autism

At first, that was the path he followed, but then a roadblock to that goal blocked his path — with the rejection of his nautical scholarship.


“I entered UP without my parents’ knowledge. I just applied and started to build my own name. It’s like fate brought me here.”


This was a turning point in his life as decided then to forge another path and not that of a seaman but that of an artist.

“I entered UP without my parents’ knowledge. I just applied and started to build my own name. It’s like fate brought me here,” Arquio said.

READ: Some Bisaya artists who put Cebu on the world map

Using art to reconnect with family

Arquio also said that he might not be a seafarer but he could draw and use his artworks to reconnect with his family of seafarers.

“I make art to reconnect with my mother and my family. My works are mirrors of my personal experiences and my life as I’m the only one in the family who took Fine Arts. Since my father and brothers are seafarers and I’m the only one who took a different path,” Arquio shared.

This can be seen in one of his artwork which won in the Vision Petron National Student Art Competition 2022, which had the theme:“Pangarap sa Kinabukasan.” 


His winning oil painting piece entitled “Puhon” had a kid leaning towards a bright yellow light bulb and a gray embossed background which symbolizes his hopes as a child.

Arquio said that the artwork symbolized his life as a child and his experience in building his own career, considering that he took a different path rather than following the familiar path of seafarers who his father and brothers took. 

READ: Filipino artist shares own version of Pinoy-style Bondee rooms 

How rejection showed a supposed-to-be nautical student the path to being a winning artist. In photo is the artist's winning oil painting, "Puhon."

“Puhon”, is Clark Myer Arquio’s oil painting which won first prize in the Vision Petron National Student Art Competition 2022. | Clark Myer Arquio

Arquio employed metaphors and symbolism to depict his life experiences and hopes in “Puhon.”

“I use symbolism and iconography to depict my father and brothers through an anchor. While the box represents a balikbayan box which contains agricultural figures which aren’t its usual contents, and the light bulb represents my hope in the future,” Arquio said. 

Arquio said that the things he showed in the painting were diverse people, ideologies, religions, world peace and the reflection of his hopes as a kid. 

“The painting is a mirror of my personal experiences, that’s leaning towards the light, leaning towards a bright future,” Arquio added.


He also describes the winning piece as an evolving work that’s why there are evolving figures in it.

The painting was Arquio’s first attempt in using the visual effect called embossed which helped make the drawing seem to pop-out of the canvas.


“The painting is a mirror of my personal experiences, that’s leaning towards the light, leaning towards a bright future.”


It’s also noticeable that most of his artworks employ a yellow colored light bulb and sun which symbolizes his hope.

Arquio said that it’s easy to start an artwork. 

His only challenge is how to end it since ideas keep flowing in his head.

He also said that he joined the same competition in December of the last academic year and ranked in third place.

READ: From PH to the ‘Spider-Verse’: Artist Ronald Samson on his ‘date’ with Hollywood

Mess over Message 36

Clark Myer Arquio’s “Mess over Message” painting is a finalist in one of the art competitions. | Clark Myer Arquio


His journey as an artist started in grade 9 and 10 when he used ordinary pencil to draw and he eventually developed by using graphite, color pencil and then watercolor.

He then started painting when he was in grade 11 and would try on different tools and mediums. He considers his style as evolving since he doesn’t want to stick to one medium in creating an artwork.

At first, Clark didn’t seem to be interested in arts as he was not knowledgeable with it and was only interested in drawing because he liked to draw.

But later, he realized the essence of making art and his role as an artist in society. 

READ: Turning simple plastic bags to bags of art


“Balut” is one of Clark Myer Arquio’s artworks depicting a balut vendor. | Clark Myer Arquio

According to Clark, most of his subjects are from the working class, particularly vendors. Since his mother is also a vendor, he can relate to their way of life and is empowered with the way they manage their time in raising their kids while facing adversities.

Some would describe Arquio’s work as realism but he describes himself as evolving and progressive since he’s not confined into one style and is trying different mediums and styles.

“I consider myself as an evolving and progressive artist because I keep exploring different mediums and techniques. Currently, I’m practicing oil and visual effects for now since it’s my practice for my thesis. I’m also using figurative and representational painting. Though, there’s no recent work of abstract art but I also tried it in one of my paintings,” he said.

“As an emerging artist, I always explore and discover who I am as a student, as an artist and as a part of a social and cultural conversation,” he added.

READ: Long-lost Luna ‘greatest PH art find in history’

Morgan Freeman

This is the artist’s portrait of Morgan Freeman. | Clark Myer Arquio


Arquio aspires to become a professional artist who’s willing to explore new techniques and mediums. He doesn’t want to use a single tool that would limit his creativity.

He  hopes to develop into an artist whose works are culturally and socially significant to the audience.

Arquio also said that we should not just conform to what’s usual, instead, have something on our own and challenge or break the conventional narratives and norms.

For fellow aspiring artists like Arquio, his advice is to continue what they’re doing best and not restrict themselves.

“Be patient on what you’re planning, execute and write if necessary to articulate your ideas. Don’t restrict yourself to one medium, go and explore other mediums, tools and materials. Lastly, enjoy what you do and do what you love,” Arquio said.


Filipino art is world-class art

‘Ukkil’ artist Rameer Tawasil and his canvas of peace

Rejection: How to bounce back from it


TAGS: Artist
Latest Stories
Most Read