Robert Sands was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, residing in Castle Shannon with his mother, father, and sister. He attended Dormont High School, and then went on to study Fine Art at The Ivy School of Professional Art, where he graduated in 1964.
Robert’s first job was at WQED-TV as a cell animation artist and designer, where he won an award for Best Set Design from the Pittsburgh Art Directors Club in 1965.
Between 1966 and the early 1970's, Robert worked as a designer at Gateway Studios and then at Colopy Dale Studio. It was at Colopy Dale where he partnered with Bob Brevard, an Ivy School close friend and fellow designer, forming one of the City’s most dynamic young design team, Great Stuff. The team collaborated with Pittsburgh’s premier advertising agencies, coming up with concepts and creating layouts for such companies as Alcoa, Kaufmann's, Sylvania, and US Steel.