Bow Guerrero works as a freelance illustrator and comic artist. He’s best known for his graphic work on The Dark Colony Book I: Mikey Recio & The Secret of the Demon Dungeon (in collaboration with writers Budjette Tan and J.B. Tapia), which won Best Book of Graphic Literature in English at the 33rd National Book Awards in 2014, and its prequel The Dark Colony Clasificado: The Grinning Nino of Barang.

Bow Guerrero also collaborated for the artwork for The Doorkeeper, a graphic novel written by Scott Lee Chua and Ethan Chua, and illustrated by other artists: Allen Geneta, Bianca Lesaca, Jap Mikel, Gia Dominique Duran, Brent Sabas, Aaron Felizmenio, Borg Sinaban and Raymund Bermudez.

Alongside Budjette Tan, Kajo Baldisimo, David Hontiveros, and Mervin Malonzo, Bow Guerrero did some work on The Lost Journal of Alejandro Pardo and The Black Bestiary, two wonderful and imaginative compendiums of the creatures and beasts in Philippine folklore.

In his spare time, Bow loves watching movies, Netflix binges, reading comics, novels, art books, history books, and painting with watercolor and gouache. You can find more of Bow Guerrero and his artwork at or on Instagram.

Q: Everyone has an origin story. Could you share with us the exact moment (or moments) wherein you realized that you wanted to become an artist?

I used to think that comics were the biggest trigger for me to become an artist.  The truth of the matter is, I think the trigger was my curiosity as a child—imagining fantastic stories during playtime.  I just wanted to know how things looked like in the stories I imagined.  So, I drew them.  The effect of seeing an idea on paper was the most exciting thing in the world to me.

It’s not a remarkable thing.  I believe that all children are drawn to become artists.  I was just lucky that I grew up in a good home environment where drawing and art were considered good things.  When I was old enough to go to school, it was comics that solidified that passion to express myself through art.  One of my very first comic books was a thick Superman digest (roughly the same size as the Archie digests). I’d bring that book to school all the time. If I remember correctly, that digest tackled all the different types of Kryptonite in Superman’s world.

Every Sunday my Mom and Dad would buy me and my older brother comics.  Before U.S. comics became more accessible in the Philippines, National Bookstore reprinted old issues of Marvel and DC comics was the norm.  These comics were really cheap and I had stacks of them growing up. I had tons of Captain America, Omac, Batman, etc.  Of course, from the early 1980s up to the present, I’ve been collecting (on and off) both Japanese and American comics mostly.

Q: From that moment, and throughout your journey as an artist, what has been your biggest struggle?

Doubt is the biggest challenge.  Doubt makes you settle on things that are easier to accomplish.  There was a long stretch of time when I almost completely turned my back on visual art because I doubted my skills.  This was after I left the U.P. College of Fine Arts.  I tried my hand in doing art direction and graphic design (which I still love).


Q: How have you been able to cope with (or overcome) this struggle?

In the early 2000’s I ended up in advertising.  I ended up conceptualizing stuff with my creative partners—mostly for TV commercials, radio commercials, and print ads.  In advertising, you have to learn to get rid of your ego because your ideas, no matter how good you think they are, have a chance of being rejected and shot down.  If your ideas get approved, they’re refined and fixed until they’re good enough to be released.  If they don’t get approved, you go back to the proverbial drawing board and start over.

Advertising trained me not to be afraid to show my ideas to my bosses and clients.

I applied this way of thinking to my comics and illustration work.

One day, I saw my officemate making his comics at work and I figured that if he could do it, I could do it too.  That guy was Paolo Fabregas and the comic he was working on was the Filipino Heroes League.

It also helped that my other officemate was Budjette Tan, who is one of my oldest friends.  He was always encouraging me by sending me comic related links and lending me graphic novels he liked.

Q: What would you consider is the ONE thing that REALLY helped you level up your skills?

A lot of artists think their art sucks or could be better.  I’m one of those artists.  Because of this, I’ve always wanted to evolve my art.  I used to be obsessed with putting as many lines as I could in my drawings…then I started looking beyond the art I was exposed to.  I started looking at video game concept art, animation/film pre-production art, character designs, storyboards, etc.—and the one thing I learned from looking at the work of the best visual storytellers in the world was to simplify.  It’s difficult to render something in a simple way but create an impression of visual depth and complexity.

So, now I’m trying to learn to simplify my art and still make them look complete and finished.

Q: What is one thing you’d wish you’d known before you started your artistic career? Why?

Art means constant practice and taking a break from drawing for years was a bad move.


Q: What drives or inspires you to continue making your art?

I like to entertain people with stories.  I always have.  My art helps me do that.

Q: What does your average day look like? (And when do you fit in the time to create art?)

I’m a night owl.  I do most of my work while the world is asleep. The day is reserved for visual research, surfing the net, listening to podcasts and lounging around.


Q: How do you deal with distractions or challenges that you encounter while you’re working on your art?

Easy.  Once I’m in drawing mode, it’s like having horse blinders on.  I only look at the work. Nothing really distracts me.


Q: What do you do when you feel just completely uninspired or burnt out? How do you motivate yourself to start working again?

I watch documentaries about the masters like Vermeer, Velasquez, Rembrandt, Degas, etc.  These painters lived and breathed art.  They faced more challenging things than burn out and they succeeded.  Inspiring stuff!

Q: What would you say has been your most EPIC win so far?

There are many, but I think the one thing that stands out would be when Mikey Recio and the Secret of the Demon Dungeon won the National Book Awards best graphic novel in English back in 2014. The concept and main story was written by Budjette Tan, the prose portion was written by JB Tapia, and the art was done by me.  It was awesome because I was able to share that whole experience with my oldest friends.


Q: What would you say has been your biggest failure?

I don’t have enough fingers to count them.  There’s just too many.  Fail beautifully and learn from your mistakes, I always say.


Q: What, for you, has been the best way to promote yourself and your work to potential fans, clients, or publishers?

I haven’t figured this out yet. But I’m working on a small new project right now and am slowly learning in the process. 


Q: What has been your game plan throughout your journey? What’s the BIG picture here? The ultimate dream? The end game?

The big dream is to make a sustainable living on stories that I produce (whether it’s with my old partners-in-crime or on my own).


Q: What, for you personally, has been the source of your ideas, creativity and talent?

That’s easy. History. I get inspired with history in general (American history, Spanish history, Japanese history, and Philippine history).  Visiting museums helps a lot too.  Yes!  GO VISIT YOUR LOCAL MUSEUMS! 


Q: What is your big “WHY”? Why do you feel the need to make art? Who are you doing it for? What’s the hidden reason behind your big dream?

It’s nothing unique.  I want to transport people to a place in their minds where they can get lost in for a few moments and have fun.


Quick-Fire Questions

Q: What 3 stories (comics, movies, documentaries, novels, etc.) would you say influenced and inspired your work the most?

1.) Hellboy and B.P.R.D. (Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo, Dave Stewart, John Arcudi, Guy Davis)

2.) Batman Year One (by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli)

3.) Joe the Barbarian (by Grant Morrison and Sean Gordon Murphy)

Let’s break the rules!  I’ll add some more!

4.) Akira (by Katsuhiro Otomo)

5.) Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, The Wind Rises, Howl’s Moving Castle, Nausicaa  (by Hayao Miyazaki / Studio Ghibli)

6.) Every Steven Spielberg Movie ever!

Q: What are the top books, art books, blogs, podcasts, or workshops you’d recommend that helped you level up your skills? (Feel free to plug in as many as you’d like)

For paid online tutorials, I’d recommend Schoolism.  For free tutorials, go to YouTube and search for Sinix Designs, Marco Bucci, Strip Panel Naked, and Tim Wilmot (for watercolor).


Q: If you could work remotely, from anywhere in the world, where would your office be? Why?

Japan!  I’d stay in an old house in Nagano!  It’s a nice quiet place, specially in winter.  I stayed there for two weeks before starting college a loooooooong, long time ago.

Q: Name ONE artist/writer that, if you could, you would pick their brain and find out all the hidden secrets behind their amazing work?

Mike Mignola.


Q: Who do you consider your biggest mentor that helped you improve your skills?
(Doesn’t have to be someone you’ve met personally. Can be someone you look up to, or someone whose art has inspired you to get better, over the years.)

I’d say my Dad. He’s an artist even if he doesn’t want to admit it.  He’s a brilliant photographer and he painted when he was younger.  My Dad always bought me nice books about comics growing up and he always came with me whenever I would receive an award or something for my work.  Plus, he’s one of the most dedicated fencing instructors (former National Coach) in the Philippines.  At 80, he still tries to improve and impart his knowledge to his students in U.P.   He didn’t teach me art stuff, but he taught me never to stop pursuing my passions.

Leave a comment