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Sandoval Design: from big dreams to the big screen

Category: Features

Growing up as the son of immigrants, Gil Sandoval had engrained in him an entrepreneurial mindset. The problem though was that he didn’t have a sense of direction as to where he should put his energy. 

That is until he was forced to choose an academic path in high school that would soon help him find his passion and purpose. 

“I took my very first graphic design class in high school where I learned Photoshop and fell in love with it,” he said. “I made business cards for myself and went around to local businesses asking if I could design a new logo for them for free. I knew that to be good at something you had to do it a lot.”

When he wasn’t building his freelancing business, Sandoval was busy touring with his brothers in a band that was quickly gaining popularity. He says that this is when they first began using social media to market their band and connect with fans.

“I didn’t know anything about marketing or advertising, but I knew that when we played a show, the more we cared about and valued the people who came out to support us, the more they gave to us,” he explained. “We used social media to connect with them and it helped us gain a lot of attention.”

So much so that a few of the band’s songs had made it onto the big screen in both indie and mainstream films. When the one of the movie studios saw the following that Sandoval’s band had garnered through social media, he immediately became intrigued and hired him on as creative director. It wasn’t long before his brother, Mani Sandoval, was hired on as a copywriter.

After diving into the analytics behind the studios advertising, the Sandoval brothers suggested stronger content and new positioning to market them better. Their approach was backed by creativity and data together instead of just one or the other, something he is quick to note makes their approach different. 

While his career at the studio was quickly rising, Sandoval said he began to feel that tug of his entrepreneurial spirit. He soon quit and threw himself into opening Sandoval Design, a full-service agency in Downtown Chandler. 

“I wanted to open a place that could provide for our families, where we could create cool projects that stood for something positive,” he said. “People would ask me if I was scared and the answer was yes, but I grew up in South Central, LA and knew what it was like to not have anything. Being broke is like an unwanted, familiar friend so I wasn’t scared of it. I had to sign the lease and take that risk.” 

With the keys to his new space in hand, Sandoval convinced his brother to take a leap with him for the hope of something better. 

“I knew we needed each other to be successful. We hand painted out first sign and built our own desks to save money. I would cold call people and offer services for free just to get them as a client. We worked day and night. It was that same hustle I had when I was freelancing,” he said.

Fast forward to 2019, the Sandoval Design agency has a client roster filled with big-name movie studios and Fortune 500 companies. A few of the films the agency has worked on include The Shack, John Wick and Early Man. 

“I love working with people who believe in doing things differently and think outside the box. I look for clients that we can really get behind and are visionaries,” he said.

Recently, Sandoval and his team were approached by Harper Collins for help. After picking up on several context clues about the number of published copies, translations and audience, he quickly realized this wasn’t just any book.

“I was like, ‘Are you asking us to rebrand The Bible?’ and they were. It’s really cool to be asked to work on a worldwide brand with such amazing clients…it’s a lot of pressure though because it’s The Bible,” he jokes.

Additionally, Sandoval Design has made it the mission of their agency to support local clients in Downtown Chandler. A few of these clients include Peixoto Coffee, SanTan Brewery, the City of Chandler and Murphy’s Law.  

“I love it. It was crazy to see the rebranded whisky label from SanTan Brewery in my local grocery store,” he said. “I love seeing Downtown Chandler grow and being a part of the community around us. It’s inspiring to see the hustle and grind in the small business market.”

When he isn’t running the agency, Sandoval says he is actively learning from others. His favorite interaction is to hear someone’s story – what motivates them? What challenges did they face and overcome? What would they do differently? Finding the answers to these questions is what helps be a better leader. 

“I love what I get to do. I love that I get to do all of this with my brother. Everything we’ve been through; it just makes our story better.”