Want a Different Approach to Storytelling for Your Event? Try Joe Castillo

Test Joe Castillo cropped

Written by Tim Grable

October 3, 2017

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We all know by now how powerful storytelling is when it comes to sending a message to an audience and connecting with them.

No matter the medium used to tell a story, they can have a powerful impact if the person who’s transmitting the message knows what they are doing.

However, in this article, we do not want to talk about storytelling in general, but about one Joe Castillo is an expert at.  If you have not heard of Mr. Castillo, Storyteller and  SandStory Artist, prepare to be amazed.

Are you curious yet? Keep reading the article to discover what we are referring to.

Sand Artist Joe demonstrates his unique method of visual storytelling using sand and a light table. With a deft hand and finger movements, Castillo transforms sand particles into stunning images that convey a visual story. Accompanied by music, this innovative artist and corporate storyteller depicts multiple scenes in his chosen medium of sand during his live performances. A few flicks, scoops, shadings, smoothings and shapings transform each previous image into a new visual story canvas.

Who Is Joe Castillo?

In a nutshell, Joe is a multi-talented artist. He is a best-selling author, storyteller and finalist on America’s Got Talent. Art spoke to him from an early age. He studied at the Ringling School of Art and later graduated from Florida Bible College.

Up until now, he has been seen live all around the world, in over 43 countries and 35 different languages.

Some of the performances he is most proud of include those Joe has done for world leaders including President Carter, President Bush, President Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Pope Francis and King Abdullah.

He was also proudly featured and performed on Q’Viva! The Chosen, X-Factor and The Today Show.

Joe is the artist who developed a new form of storytelling, which is called Sand Art, Sand Story or Sand Animation. 

Joe worked in advertising for 20 years in Knoxville, Tennessee, at an agency called The Advertising Library.

Thanks to his experience in advertising and art, he then became a motivational performing artist. Ever since he has been creating stories made out of sand and is now the most prominent sand animation artist in the world.

Want a Different Approach to Storytelling for Your Event? Try Joe Castillo

Joe’s Unique Approach to Storytelling

You are probably wondering why he is so well-known and what makes him a wanted entertainer for any events. As Joe Castillo’s skills have been put to good use at all sort of events, such as:

  • Special Events / Non-Profit / Foundations
  • Corporate / Trade Shows
  • New Product / Branding
  • Weddings / Birthdays / Celebrations

Sand storytelling is made up of three pillars: sand, fingers, and a lightbox. Artists relay wordless stories by drawing dynamic pictures using sand on a lightbox, pictures that are then projected onto a larger screen for audience viewing. Performances are often accompanied by theme music. The art is commonly used at talent shows, business events and tribute performances.

With just three tools (music, a light table, sand), Joe creates different scenes which speak to the audience. The scenes are displayed on a screen so that everyone from the audience can see what he is doing.

Music is carefully chosen so that the scenes appear fluid and so everyone is drawn into the story he creates.

Here’s a quick sneak peek of how he puts to use his amazing skills.

Joe Castillo is a Spanish Sand Artist

La Ciudad de las Ideas

It is a rare artist that can make a squid morph into a shark, into a whale, into a dolphin. After a 12-minute speech and SandStory performance at the La Ciudad de las Ideas conference, entitled “The Magic of If,” Castillo received a standing ovation for his thrilling and touching performance. Along with La Ciudad de las Ideas, Castillo has performed for Mercedes-Benz, the Bank of Dubai, Disney Marketing Group and other corporations, conventions and holiday events.

Business Solutions Español


Art has been an integral part of Castillo’s life since he turned five years old. After two decades in advertising, Castillo sold his professional agency, graduated from Ashbury Seminary and pursued his lifelong love of inspirational art. The performances of this Spanish sand artist have been translated into more than 30 languages and displayed in more than 40 countries. Castillo believes art is more than an image to be glorified in an art gallery. Art and its messages can change business procedures, inspire employee participation and improve the workplace.

Though silent, sand storytelling is often interpreted through the verbal lens of its maker. Unfortunately, bilingual sand artists or Spanish sand artists are in short supply.

This Storyteller uses Sand Art to Blow Your Mind

This video from Turning the Tide titled “A Louisiana Story”, starts on an artistic journey along a Louisiana riverbank complete with perching heron to the time when Native Americans still hunted with arrows and used war paint. Joe’s hands change the scene in the sand over the lighted glass table that is his canvas. As he continues to shift and create with the sand, a riverboat appears, a storm, various people, and more. Joe ends his performance right back where he started. The whole thing is a treat for the senses as Joe shift’s the sand and listen to the music accompaniment. It is mesmerizing!

Joe Castillo, sand animation artist, creates yet another fabulous piece of fluid sand art to describe the background of Saudi Arabia’s newest oil refinery company, YASREF. Castillo shows sand as sand, and sand as camel and tree and clothing, to show how two world-class companies from two separate countries crossed boundaries and created YASREF.

Hunger Games SandStory is highly famous for his amazing art pieces that are simply created with his own two hands and a few handfuls of sand. The pieces are simply made with the dark silhouette of sand against a white backdrop. Using a projector, Castillo transforms his pieces into an entirely different, colorful and immersive world.

In this video, Joe Castillo uses his sand art finesse to create a number of scenes and symbols from the bestselling book series and one of the highest-grossing movie adaptations ever, The Hunger Games. With sand against a flaming background, Castillo transforms the symbolic hands holding nightlock berries into a mockingly symbol, then into the symbol of the rebellion in the book, Katniss Everdeen.

Joe grew up in Mexico City and was exposed early in his life to artistic culture. He gives presentations in Spanish and English.He graduated from Ringling School of Art, used his talents in advertising, and then learned sand could be used as an art medium quite by accident. He has always been an avid artist and storyteller, but just playing with a bag of sand one day, he found he could tell his stories with the sand.

Now he travels the world providing demonstrations of the unique sand animation that he has developed and that he calls SandStory. He has visited over twenty eight countries to perform for presidents, kings, executives and other VIPs. Hundreds of thousands of people have attended his performances and witnessed his original storytelling. His one-of-a-kind visual art can convey corporate, civic and even spiritual messages to audiences.

Castillo performed as a contestant on season seven of America’s Got Talent. In addition, he was selected to close the TEDActive 2011 conference. He won the 2012 CINE Golden Eagle for PBS documentary as well as the American Entertainment Readers Choice Award. His awards plus his many international performances indicate the universal appeal of his unique art form and visual storytelling method.

Castillo is a world-renowned motivational speaker and performing artist who captures audiences world-wide through his new art form of telling stories in sand. He is passionate about and available for work to help promote corporate messages. His art has inspired millions of people and he has introduced many to sand animation.

Sand Art Is a Universal Way to Tell Stories

So certainly, one that more people need to see Joe’s shows.

If you want to send a corporate message and use a different approach, then we believe Joe’s storytelling skills can come in handy.

He has got plenty of experience performing at banquets, new product launches, grand openings and other corporate events. Joe can take any message you want and make it resonate with your audience.

Don’t hesitate to give us a call at (615) 283-0039 if you want more details about Joe Castillo and how you can book him for your next event. 

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