I first came across Bong's work via Facebook where he modestly posts a few of his illustrations. But boy! what illustrations they are! Since then, we've spoken a lot and have much in common both artistically and of course with our passion for BJJ.
Bong, originally from the Philippines, is a comic book artist living in the UK. All the art you see here, and on his t-shirt design website, Gawakoto, is heavily influenced by his love of martial arts and comic book art.
I personally love the raw freshness of Bong's work. the liberal spraying of black and white ink, bold use of colour and dramatic poses really makes his art come alive. It's not just me that's noticed either, you'll soon see Bong's work on forthcoming apparel from Scramble, and maybe a few other leading fight wear brands.
Here is some of Bong's work and words from the artist himself:
"This character (above and main pic at top) is Lapu‐lapu, a Filipino hero, he defeated the conquering Spaniards using the ancient Filipino art of Kali. The top image background is a reinterpretion of the Philippine flag, the image above was designed for a Herts Martial Arts event: at the event every member must complete 5‐rounds of sparring in the different disciplines in order to be a part of the warrior’s circle. The neck area was supposed to represent all the hard work (blood pouring) to finish the challenge. But it wasn’t printed as I designed it but was still happy it was printed."
"I approached my instructor at the Tokon Academy to design the club shirt. It was fun doing this as it has a lot of elements that actually represent the club— samurai (Japanese roots/ influence or whatever), snake (jiujitsu brotherhood affiliation, circle (synergy, tokon’s slogan of ‘synergy bet theory and practice). We made t-shirts and a rashguard‐ which came about after seeing Meerkatsu's Mad Dog Custom Rash Guard review. It made
my job looking for custom rashguard company easier!"
...thanks to Bong for allowing me to share his work. Here are some more, examples of his artistry:
Oh and I can't forget, Bong's graphic novel, Straw, which will be out at some point soon.