Well, if that isn’t an understatement! Things have been humming along around here. In fact, I’m at the WordCamp conference this weekend with Blue Storm Creative, Keller Digital and Nolan Lemos. While I’m bowing at the altar of WordPress, here are some cool things that are currently afloat at The Farm:



Like a lot of the beauties in the City of Angels, The Think Farm in the process of getting a much-needed face lift. Check out the look of the new site, and then check back again in the coming weeks because we will only be adding more great things to it.



For the fourth year in a row, The Think Farm had the privilege of designing the Silver Lake Chamber’s annual member directory. As a result, I get a first-hand view of all the cool businesses and entrepreneurs that make our eclectic neighborhood so unique. It also lead to the campaign design for the second annual Best of Silver Lake Awards. You may have seen the poster up in various establishments around town, from Hyperion Public to Knuckle & Claw to Yolk. I’m going to have to nab a poster for myself before they’re all gone!

2015 BOA

By the way, you can vote now for your favorite local businesses until September 30 at the Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce website.


Choose Connection Cover - v6b

Nothing makes you feel as legitimate as a book … In this case, a book cover. Though The Think Farm has designed album covers, brochures, and booklets, we’ve never been approached to design an actual book cover until now. The author had a very clear idea of what he wanted so it was a pretty simple design process. I got to hold the prototype in my hands and I was tickled and amazed. “It’s like a real book!” I kept saying to myself. The author, David Giuliano, is diving into the world of self-publishing, and I can’t wait to see the book available for purchase online in the near future. Thanks to Get Rauzi! Editorial Services for the opportunity.



My work on the City of Santa Monica’s 2012 Year End Report opened my eyes to the joys of working with local government organizations. Maybe it was beginner’s luck, but I am completely serious when I say this. This year, I had the pleasure of designing the visual branding for the Regional Park and Open Space District of Los Angeles County and am currently working alongside Business Therapy on a brand overhaul for an organization within the Department of Public Health that’s engaged in youth outreach and sexual/relational health education. I’m excited to share more about this later as the project progresses further. Stay tuned!

Three Christmases ago, in 2011, my sister Jennifer and her husband Alen started a tradition of creating a custom, photo-based holiday greeting card with the help of yours truly. Their son Jinu was barely seven months old at the time. The “prop” took less than 30 minutes to make and the “photo shoot” took all of 15.

2011 Kim-Zehnaly family holiday card

If I do say so myself, it helps to have a graphic designer (moi) in the family. It sure does cut down on costs, and you can get as much retouching as you want! Honestly speaking, neither Jennifer nor Alen need much retouching so the retouching — and there has been a lot since 2011 — hasn’t been much about vanity. It might sound like I’m biased but I love these two so much, I would retouch their mugs till the cows come home to make them look like a million bucks if they needed it. The real beneficiary of my skills has been Jinu. As he’s grown bigger and squirmier and developed a mind of his own, my Photoshopping muscles have been increasingly challenged to make sure he appears in the final shot in a greeting card-worthy way. Last Christmas, we had a bigger concept for the card, which I blogged about then. Making it happen with a 19-month-old toddler wasn’t easy.

Some rough shots from the 2012 holiday card photo shoot

Some shots from the 2012 holiday card photo shoot

It look lots of coaxing and patience and definitely some Photoshopping to land on this final image that wished loved ones a happy holiday AND announced the upcoming addition to the Kim-Zehnaly clan. Jennifer’s BFF and former Think Farm design assistant Ritzel Quito added the graphic elements to drive the message home. It wasn’t perfect since there were a lot of disparate parts that had to be pulled together and we didn’t have a professional photo set-up. I’d say it was still pretty darn good for a family holiday card!


We weren’t exactly trying to up the ante this year but Jennifer, Alen and I were all keen to try something creative for the 2013 card. We were definitely influenced by the beautiful work of artist and mom Sioin Queenie Liao but I never forgot Oren Lavie’s music video for “Her Morning Elegance” ever since I first saw it five years ago. I loved the whimsy and seeming simplicity in the use of props to tell a story:

Ok, now to have three novices take on the challenge of interpreting this concept into a family holiday card, with not just one but two little ones! I decided to be a smarter about lighting this year and pulled out old halogen lamps and whatever other clean source of light I could find around. Thankfully, Jinu didn’t knock any of them over. That was the last favor he did for me. It would’ve been ideal to shoot everyone at one go but with the baby puking on her dress, the toddler running around like a terror and three grown-ups simultaneously bossing each other around, that was never going to happen. Instead, I shot one element at a time, grunting and sweating from the top of a 5-step ladder.

First, the parents. SO easy!

No retouching -- doesn't my sister's skin look awesome? Jealous!

No retouching — doesn’t my sister’s skin look awesome? Jealous!

Then, the newest addition to the family: five-month-old Adeline. We got her at just the right moment and she was charming!

Shoes on or off, she looked gorgeous!

Shoes on or off, she looked gorgeous!

Finally, Jinu of the Terrible Twos. There were tears, there was sweat, there was yelling. Of the four adults (my brother David eventually came in to lend a hand) and Jinu, it wasn’t always clear who was doing which.

Those little dots are chocolate chips we used to try to calm him down. Uh, they didn't work.

Those little dots are chocolate chips we used to try to calm him down. Uh, they didn’t work.

This year’s holiday card took a marathon Photoshopping session since we got rolling with the project at the end of the first week of December but it got done! My Photoshop skills aren’t good enough to turn Jinu’s frown upside-down but I think it’s the best Kim-Zehanly Christmas photo card yet, and Auntie Helen has earned her keep … Until next year.


Merry Christmas, everyone!


2012 provided one of the best branding experiences I’ve had to date in the form of a contest, some very worthy non-profits and a partnership that continues to yield delicious fruit.

Helen Kim of The Think Farm and I hatched a plan to offer our services through a social media contest, Make Your Mark, to a Los Angeles-based non-profit as a way to give back to the city that gives us so much. We were nothing short of thrilled by the passionate and socially conscious applicants who worked hard to promote their organizations to become our winner.

Sadly, there could be only one.

Happily, we were honored to work with some of the incredibly innovative and forward-thinking folks in the Los Angeles Time Banking community on a new kind of community market concept.

Once known as the Altadena Urban Farmers’ Market, theirs was an experiment in hyper-localism: a neighborhood market where folks came to buy, sell and trade local products and produce for both federal currency and time dollars. As the market grew in popularity, it began bursting at the seams, requiring a new strategy for growth and implementation, as well as a new identity.

Market manager Justin Bilow entered the AUFM into the Make Your Mark contest and handily won by leveraging the market’s various social media communities. I began working with them in April 2012 to dig deeply into their vision, mission, core values and emerging identity. Those foundational elements were then applied to the branding process to identify their target audience, market position, key messaging and new name.

With some deep exploration, care and nurturing, the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Marketplace sprouted from the very fertile minds of some of Los Angeles’ most pioneering folks. The new market is set to re-launch this spring, and they’ll be using the brand platform that M+C helped them create and the visual branding pieces The Think Farm designed to present their new identity, vision and voice to the community they serve.

Helen and I are excited to see this new identity and brilliant concept take root. What started as an experiment in hyper-localism has grown into something much bigger, but that still remains true to its community-minded roots and values:

“Providing the space for community experimentation, play and paradigm shift by incubating small businesses and hyper-local exchange through the sharing economy.”

We wish them the best of luck in their new endeavor knowing they have the internal navigation system to reach their goals and the stellar visual branding they need to make their mark.

Added bonus: Originally conceived as a brand package giveaway one-off, Make Your Mark has continued to evolve – as all good things do – into a process that M+C and The Think Farm continue with new clients. Stay tuned for our work with another one of the MYM contestants, Viver Brasil!

*The title of this blog post is also one of the key messages developed for the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Marketplace, but it aptly sums up how we also feel about our Make Your Mark experiment. Big thanks to ASNM for letting us borrow it for this piece!

sarahSarah McGowan is the owner and creative principal at MAC+COB Business Therapy. Sarah makes a mean strawberry-balsamic jam.

Back in spring of 2012 when we announced the then Altadena Urban Farmers Market as the MAKE YOUR MARK winner, we had no idea what the branding journey for such an innovative non-profit organization was going to be like. Juggling the needs of the Time Bank members with the inherent values of the existing farmers market and the vision for things to come in the future was no small task, and the core team of what is now known as the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Marketplace did a mighty fine job navigating its way through the process. Of course, members of the team had the expert Sarah McGowan of MAC+COB to keep their eyes of the prize as she worked tirelessly with them to develope their brand strategy. By the time the branding brief landed on the desk of yours truly, it was crystal clear where the organization was headed. No longer is it just a farmers market (though, to be honest, it was never “just” a farmers market!). The new and improved Marketplace is just that — a place of innovative commerce, a place of gathering, a place to test, experiment, play and grow as a community.

Round 1: Initial Concepts

To communicate the idea of the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Marketplace — which is the coming together of community in both physical place and concept — we initially looked to the past (read: simpler times) for inspiration: storefront awnings, signage and picnic/shopping baskets.

Round 1

The word ‘neighborhood’ is absent

Round 2: Alternate Variations

We liked how a traditional store sign implied a concrete, physical space but wanted to communicate the fact that the Marketplace is more than just a place. It is about innovation, about thinking outside the box.

Round 2

Round 3: Revisions

THEN we thought, why not play on the idea of the box and make it look like a CSA (community supported agriculture) produce box? Plus, we didn’t like how the generic box graphic conjured up ideas of packing up, moving and being either transitory or in transition. As you can see, the “thought bubble” idea continued to be a strong contending concept.

Round 3

Round 4: Color Exploration

We returned to the basket idea (revising the icon a bit to make it look more like a shopping basket) and decided upon the “thought bubble” design which looked uniquely recognizable as a branding element and more contemporary. The Marketplace has certain values that harken to the days of yore, but its passion is to innovate and move forward. As Justin Bilow of the core brand exploration said:

… the ASNM is meant to coordinate among the sundry and unique marketplaces under a common theme. This is [well] represented in [the] design … It’s symmetrical centered, and its borders point to four different directions, which can abstractly represent the different neighborhood-level marketplaces.

For the final step, we wanted to add some additional vitality to the logo with bold, meaningful color:

  • Green: renewal, harmony and connection to the earth
  • Orange: activity/vitality, socialization and appetite
  • Brown: wholesomeness, stability and connection to the earth

Round 4: color selection

We Have a Winner!

In the end, we chose brown as much for its significance as its visual impact.

Final logo and official color scheme

Final logo and official color scheme

We are super stoked at what we came up with and can’t wait to move on to producing collateral to promote the new and improved Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Marketplace!

The Think Farm worked on a little personal project this holiday season. Jennifer (Helen’s little sister) and Alen already have an adorable 1.5-year-old boy but are expecting another addition to the family! To share the good news, they decided to do a combination Christmas and announcement card this year. Alen came up with the concept, Helen did the styling and photo shoot (trying to get a rugrat to cooperate is a Herculean feat!) and assistant designer Ritzel — who also happens to be a very good family friend — did the design and layout. It was truly a team effort!


Congratulations to the Kim-Zehnaly clan. Happy holidays, indeed!

I normally don’t like to drive west of La Cienega. The fact that I did is worthy of a blog post (first one since April — apologies, readers!).

On second thought, perhaps the purpose of my trip is a more worthy topic. When the progressive, design-savvy city of Santa Monica comes a-knockin’, you happily head toward the ocean and clean air, regardless of your penchant for staying landlocked in Silver Lake.

The project was to design the city’s annual report, highlighting its accomplishments in the 2011-2012 fiscal year. The underlying vision of promoting a sense of civic pride through compelling textual and visual narratives meant it was a pretty big, but inspiring, undertaking. The countless hours of layout and custom design work led to some insightful lessons in efficient work flow, collaboration and, of course, design. The Farm couldn’t have done it without the leadership and can-do spirit of Matt Mornick at the Santa Monica City Manager’s office. Matt also happens to be an awesome photographer and shot some beautiful images of the city specifically for this project. I mean, check out the show-stopping image spanning the front and back covers! I think the word you’re looking for is “wow.” Click image to view an enlarged version.

Here are a few snapshots from the report:

The report is being printed and bound as we speak and will be mailed out to Santa Monica businesses and residents next week. You can view a web-only version on the City of Santa Monica website. Be sure to check out Matt’s body of photography work:

Every so often, we meet friends whose creative endeavors we feel inspired to support. Our friend Kira Shea came to us envisioning a blog that highlights some of her favorite things in life: food and travel! Kira already had the name of her blog (the suggestion of a clever friend as well as a wink to her favorite Italian dessert) and her tagline. Helen gave me the reigns on this one so I had the pleasure of working with Kira through the design process.

The first part of this project was to research blogs that inspire Kira. Ultimately, Kira’s current blog My Little Green Bicycle gave us direction with its simple and clean layout. For her new blog, though, she also desired a bit of a personalized, hand-drawn style addition.

First, we got to work narrowing down the typeface options:

We wanted to use two different typefaces to create a harmonious contrast between the two distinct parts of the blog title. The first mock-up looked like this:

Click image to view larger version

Even vetoed designs are key since they help us to fine-tune our gauge of the client’s aesthetics and clarifies the overall direction. When it comes to design, words can carry the conversation only so far. Kira described Option 1 as “too distracting” but liked Option 2. We did decide to save the icons from Option 1 for other uses.

passport. pillow. spork.

With a couple of tweaks, I arrived at the final logo that was flexible enough to work well in multiple environments. Both consistency and flexibility are important for a robust logo.

Here is the finished product:

We can’t wait to see what adventures we get to vicariously experience through “kiramisu”. Thank you, Kira, for letting us be a part of this fun and creative process!

She’s still fine-tuning but you can visit Kira’s new blog at:

I don’t think of myself as an average chiropractor. Before I fell in love with chiropractic, I was a professional dancer and suffered many of the injuries common to dancers and athletes. I discovered chiropractic as a way to heal my own body and found it was the most effective tool for recovery. Once I was under care, I was amazed at what else it did for my body. I thought I was a healthy and vibrant woman, but little did I know! My chiropractor gave me a new perspective on health and well-being. More than just the absence of disease and infirmities, health is the whole body functioning at 100% all the time. Through chiropractic, I found myself having more energy and everything in my body started to function as it was originally designed. I was so impressed and moved by my personal chiropractic journey that I decided to make it my life’s work. I felt responsible to educate and empower others to live a healthy lifestyle.

Ever since my first niece was born, I’ve held a special place in my heart for pregnant women and children. This drove me to pursue my specialty in pregnancy and pediatrics. You probably have a specific picture in your mind of what a chiropractor does even before reading my bio and you are probably wondering how on earth I adjust pregnant women and babies! Or why pregnant ladies and kids need to be adjusted in the first place. Well, I’ve had the pleasure of helping moms have easier births. I love being able to ease the stress of a mom whose baby has colic or can only breast feed on one side. It brings me great joy when women who are trying to conceive share the news that they are now pregnant. I treat teenagers who are able to play their favorite sports even after bumps, falls and minor injuries, and kids that are able to focus and pay attention a little better after each adjustment.

My journey as a chiropractor eventually brought me to the big question: how do I convey my unique message and gift to a public with an updated, set idea about chiropractic? As it turns out, this is where some carefully planned and well executed branding comes in! With the guidance of MAC + COB Business Therapy and The Think Farm, I underwent a thorough branding process where I had to answer all kinds of questions.

Who do I serve? What is the population of people who need my service? What are my business core values? What feelings do I want my prospective clients to have when they see my website, business card or any other print materials? Also, does it match who I am?

They sound like easy questions, but when answers need to be put to paper in a clear, concise way, it becomes a little trickier. Sarah of MAC + COB and Helen at The Think Farm really took time to lead me through the process and understand who I was as an individual, business owner and chiropractor. I now have a properly branded business which has in turn helped me serve more people in my community that are in need of my services. With one look at my logo and website, mothers feel comfortable with me even before they meet me. I am very proud to have people visit my website and see my business cards. (I love handing them out and showing them off!) My philosophy and message are built in to the branding. This allows me to focus on what I am really good at: serving pregnant women and kids.

Business card, front and back

If you have a business and you have lives to touch and help, you need to be branded! MAC + COB and The Think Farm are amazing.

Dr. Brandey Dollens’ goal as a chiropractor is to create a memorable experience for her patients and their family’s life-long health goals as well as specific needs. She has created a fun, unique environment for health and is focused on restoring balance in the bodies of men, women, mothers, fathers and children of all ages. Dr. Brandey is committed to serving, educating and empowering people to achieve optimal health through chiropractic care, proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. The much-needed paradigm shift in health care comes from proactive and regular care. To find out more about her practice and request an appointment, visit her site at, copywritten by MAC + COB and designed by The Think Farm.

All photos by MAC + COB Photography.

The Think Farm had the pleasure of designing the new 2012 Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce Member Directory.

It was a pretty well-thought out process, if we do say so ourselves. The Chamber Board and The Farm decided that the directory should not only include photos of our community but also portraits of and quotes from business owners and organization directors. From the person who serves me coffee at my local café to the hardware store owner who advises me on the tools I need to for a home improvement activity to the person at the local cheese store that knows what’s good this season, it’s great to acquaint ourselves with the people who are serving this community. This was a joint effort and labor of love. Thanks to Sarah McGowan, Ann Le and other awesome members of the Chamber who gave us a hand!

It was a pleasure meeting business owners and organization leaders during the first phase of this process and discovering fun and interesting new shops, eateries and other organizations. We shot casual portraits and learned a little something about each of the businesses that participated.

The second phase of this process turned out to be more time consuming than we anticipated but we were really excited with the end product! After cleaning up the initial photographs, they were altered and given a color treatment, then manipulated and drawn over to create an illustration. The three parts to this process are shown below. Thanks to our beautiful models, Billie and Tootie from The Reform School on Sunset Blvd!

Original photo

Clean-up and initial color blocking

Final illustration

Sampling of the final directory

The 2012 Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce Directory is out now. Find it at your favorite local shop!

To see more illustrations, visit our album on Facebook.

A gala, a fashion show, a benefit:  the night was really something in wonderland.  The event coordinators did a wonderful job in weaving together the evening and its affairs.  There were mushrooms on the floor, vintage dresses hanging on several clotheslines, music playing in the background, people dressed in top hats and amusing outfits clinking their glasses of cocktails and wine.

The entrance to the gala at Barnsdall Art Park, truly colorful and bright

Vintage dresses strung along over tables of guests

Silent auction filled with goods and services donated by Silver Lake businesses

During the benefit, I was able to hear from various supporters and patients of the Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic about their experiences and positive benefits from the clinic. I’m glad that The Think Farm could be a part of this outreach and fundraiser for a good cause.

The programs for the entire evening

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