LA’s searching for a JOB….a few suggestions.

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums STORY BOARD LA’s searching for a JOB….a few suggestions.

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    Fact: more women are in LA school than men. Reality: seems like a gender split field, but that’s probably from flame-out more than anything else. 

    Fact: most (new) LA’s have minimal hand drawing skills. Reality: almost everyone just uses CAD and Adobe Creative Suite and 3d modeling. Only basic site sketches get drawn. 


    Come on Bob, you haven’t corned the market on what LA is. I know lots of successful LAs that probably couldn’t pass a life drawing class, but are doing just great in the industry. Face it, hand drawing is disappearing. Which is kinda sad, actually. 


    Oh, I agree….there are definitely some great “computer software programs” out there that can assist LAs in producing high quality sketches or renderings….i.e., renderworks, sketch-up, inkscape, kerkythea, gimp….many others.  So, if University LA programs are not pushing “hand graphics/rendering/sketching skills”, they really do need to be teaching students some of the “computer software programs”….and I’m sure many are these days.  However, knowing HOW to sketch and generate ideas would be extremely helpful…regardless of HOW you produce those sketches.

    I feel sure that I could personally take the the time to learn how to master a couple of different “computer software sketch programs”…..but, it doesn’t make sense for me at this point. I’ll just plan to stick what I know works for me.

    I just checked ASLA’s website…they stated that the recent stats of those LA graduates who applied to take the CLARB exam…..that 49% were females.  So, I do see there’s an increase in female LA’s……49% to me still says LA is a “gender neutral” profession.  I think the shift of more female LAs relates somewhat to the fact there are just more women in the workplace than ever before…and there are slightly more women in the U.S. than men.


    P.S. Jonathan;

    I used to believe I was fairly good at “hand sketches & hand renderings:…until I saw James Richards’ Land 8 Portfolio.  James has published a great book on how to create hand drawn sketches & color renderings….He teaches @ The University of Texas @ Arlington and heads up seminars on hand sketching in various cities.

    So….I do know that at some University LA programs around the U.S…..hand sketching is still being taught.



    Anecdotal evidence: my MLA class was about 65% women, but the data (like CLARB shows) indicates that the industry is about 50/50. But you and I both know that there’s a lot of burn out + a lot of people just never get their LA license. So I’m guessing that those two conditions help explain the data gap. Another piece of anecedotal evidence: I’ve known more than a few residential landscape ‘designers’ that were nothing more than inspired gardeners that passed themselves off in the same league as true LA’s. Those people were women, part of a native plant society, horticulturalists, gardners, or whathaveyou. Those groups also get lumped into LA, unfortunately. But all that explains why it’s considered (by Arch’s and PE’s) a feminine industry. 

    Hand drawing was taught in my MLA, but almost no one had the skill to use it in presentation quality renderings. Plus, it’s easier to setup a 3d model and then execute renderings and digitally transfer them into a presentation layout software system. The production value of digital became obvious by 2nd year + a digital copy of all our work was required by the University. So you can see why everyone abandons it, but the value/skill is not lost on anyone. It’s just not practical. 

    Leslie B Wagle

    I think there is some disconnect between mental images of what people are discussing…John is thinking about “quick hand sketches” and not laborious hand renderings…and others have in mind efficient use of software vs. magazine level digital renderings like some of the webinar gurus produce. Either can be idea-capture efficient, and both can be worth a high labor investment on occasion, but the thing is to know what to apply and when. (Early stage work often isn’t exposed outside of the project team). I’ve seen some great demos of blended techniques, and all techniques become more comfortable & practical with frequent use. 

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    I’m often fascinated by the idea that sketching has to be done by hand. I understand where it comes from. It comes from the perceived disconnect between the human and the screen. I remember when I first started to draw in CAD and being very frustrated by the disconnect of scale and other perceptions as you zoom in and zoom out. You just don’t have that sense of feel to your sketching that you do by hand ….. not at first.

    If you hand sketch, you simply do not have the need to sketch “artificially” and because of that you will never develop the same sense of “feeling the sketch” as you do by hand. Those of us that have to do their sketching artificially develop that connection to drawing on the screen because of repetition and other things that develop a similar familiarity of that screen as someone who hand draws does to the paper.

    I completely understand that it does not seem possible to a hand drawing person.


    I sincerely don’t have a problem with the fact that a majority of LAs practicing these days are producing ALL of their sketches, color renderings and final contract documents on autoCAD or other computer software programs.

    The “issue” I have is…..I have seen many LAs Portfolios (even some LAs who have 10 to 15 yrs. of design experience)….and, I have seen too many of these Portfolios with weak Graphics (with the sketches and color renderings)…..and way too many of the autoCAD drawings I have viewed are also weak….they have maybe 1 or 2 line weights, so, they aren’t easy to read.  

    I was fortunate enough to grow up with a Father who was a very talented Professional Graphic Designer…, I have always known great “graphics & drawings” when I see them.  Sketches and Color Renderings, IMO, should be bold….rich colors, shadows, a variety of line weights and easy to understand.  Final Contract Documents….by hand or autoCAD should have several line weights, so, the design intent is very easy to read and understand.  If a contractor in the field is having problems reading and understanding the Contract Documents……you’ve got problems.

    I just don’t believe that University LA Professors are teaching their LA students the value of “great graphics”….and how important it is for autoCAD drawings to be drawn using a variety of line weights….to make them communicate the design intent.  I’ve just seen too many autoCAD drawings that are drawn with only 1 thin line weight….and the drawings look like spaghetti…very difficult to read!


    July 12, 2017

    Well….I’m repeating myself here from my thread above about LA jobs.

    Looking at the LAND 8 “job board…….looks like there are (24) LA positions…..(15) of those jobs are located in either CALIFORNIA or NEW YORK.

    Maybe LAs in those 2 States could chime in here…..they probably know more about LA salaries in those States than I do.  But, it just seems to me….that BOTH of those States have very high “cost of living”….as well as HIGH State Income Taxes you have to deal with.  Plus, you have Federal Income Taxes.

    Apartment rents in California & New York are ridiculous…..I’ve looked On-line.  The LA firms in California & New York do NOT compensate new hires a HIGHER than normal salary……just because of high cost of living or because their States have a State Income Tax.

    I don’t see HOW new LA graduates can consider beginning their LA careers in either of those States….unless they current ly live there…..and can live with Mom and Dad for a few years.

    J. Robert (Bob) Wainner

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