Dom at work

Image Courtesy of Dominic Grijalva

You’ll never question if graphic design student Dominic Grijalva is excited about something, because he wears his heart on his sleeve. “I’m a theater guy, so I’m dramatic,” says 24-year-old Grijalva. When his friend asked him to design the poster for the play, 12 Angry Men, he didn’t think twice.

In the play, a jury of 12 men are put in a room to decide the fate of a teenage boy who has been charged with murdering his father with a knife. As the play goes on, we hear the thoughts and opinions of each man as they try to settle on a unanimous vote of innocent or guilty. It’s not an easy task, as one man fights to prove why he believes the boy is innocent in the face of the other 11 men who are convinced he did it. Many tense arguments and a few physical squabbles unfold throughout the piece.

12 Angry Men

Credit: Dominic Grijalva


“I felt these themes and scenes called for something bold and striking in design terms, and was inspired by movie posters in the Hitchcock era, specifically by the iconic graphic designer Saul Bass. Thankfully, Juan loved my design,” says Grijalva.

On a whim, he entered his 12 Angry Men design into the 2016 American Advertising Awards in Fresno, and hoped for the best. The day of the Awards, nerves were running high, and he didn’t eat the entire day. Luckily, he was accompanied by his gregarious colleagues from design firm, Marketing Plus. (He was first introduced to the firm’s owner through theater, which helped land him his paid internship).

“I don’t know if it was because it was a business crowd, but no one was celebrating when they’d receive an award, so our table was clapping and cheering loudly for the winners.”

Two glasses of wine later, Grijalva was shocked when his design appeared on the big screen as the Local Gold, Best of Show Student ADDY. “Our table went wild screaming, and it was awesome!”

The design went on to claim the Regional Gold and Adobe Design Achievement Awards Commercial- Print/Graphic/Illustration: Semifinalist (2016).

It’s improbable that a young designer would claim an industry award for what began as a casual request from a friend. However, Grijalva has steadily been creating artwork for theater productions in his hometown of Selma, CA while studying design in school. He is set to graduate from Fresno State this December, and has his eyes set on designing artwork for theater productions in the Big Apple. To say that Grijalva’s love of theater has led to amazing business opportunities is an understatement.

The future looks bright for Grijalva, and you can read our 99U interview with him here.

About the Artist

Dominic Grijalva is known for always being in the middle of a project. His list of clients and collaborators stretches across the nation, and he is ready to go wherever his work may take him. When Dominic isn’t busy fulfilling his artistic destiny he can be found rapping along to Hamilton, traveling to catch a show, or feeding his latest Netflix binge. Grijalva uses his passion for theatrics and sense of humor to come up with creative solutions, and prefers to do it with a optimistic disposition. After all, “life is short, and I want to have smile wrinkles.”This is part of our Soul Story Sessions with artists and entrepreneurs. 


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