Connecting to community

Public schools need a strong presence in the community, but Santa Monica High School (Samohi) — renowned for its stellar music program and high level of academic achievement — was nearly invisible. Its entrances were a hodgepodge of concrete walls, chain-link fences and gray driveways. A group of volunteers resolved to change that with time, paint and a bold new design system.

What we did

We created a visual vocabulary based on a strong, simple color palette and consistent typography. With a bit of vision and a lot of elbow grease, our collective efforts transformed those pocked and colorless walls, and magnified awareness of the campus.

Then FreeAssociates took on the music program, including the poster and website for Jazz4Japan, a concert to raise money for victims of the earthquake and tsunami. We designed logos for the various bands and orchestras, and the identity and support materials for the huge concerts that annually feature hundreds of young musicians in one of the most respected music programs in Southern California.


We are fanatical believers in the value of education. So we resolved to help our school system in many areas where it interacts with the surrounding community. Publications and posters, signage and advertising, all helped increase awareness, a sense of pride, and citizens’ confidence that supporting our schools was a worthwhile endeavor.


8117 West Manchester Ave.
Suite 417
Playa Del Rey
CA 90293-8745



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