Networking, Sketching the ARE and Being Awesome with Lora Teagarden

On today’s episode of the Young Architect Podcast, Michael spoke to Lora Teagarden, an architect, entrepreneur and winner of the 2017 National Young Architect award.

You can also listen to this podcast on YouTube by clicking here! 

Architect: Lora Teagarden

Lora got her start in the architecture world from a young age, “I was always interested in drawing, but I would draw buildings rather than animals or people, like other young kids would do”, she recounts.

Lora grew up in Speedway, Indiana, the oldest of two full – and then two half – siblings, attending both private and public schools. Lora’s architecture story began in high school, where she first took a drafting class. “It was really cool to have a class in high school to test how good I would be at drawing buildings, after I discovered that you could get paid to do that.”

Upon graduating high school (and maintaining her passion for drawing buildings), Lora attended Ball State University, initially being recruited on a soccer scholarship, but eventually zeroing in on Architecture and Design. She remained at Ball State for her time in grad school.

Lora spent much of her early years post-grad-school moving around the country from Indiana to Maine to Mississippi to San Diego, which meant that she wasn’t able to nail down a stable architectural job.

“I graduated into a time when nobody was hiring architects, let alone architects who had to move every year.” Thus, upon moving to Mississippi, Lora saw an opportunity to take her architecture experience and personal brand — and develop L2, her very own architectural design company.

While studying for her own ARE exams, she began doodling on paper while studying, trying to work through harder concepts — these sketches were visual representations of what was found in the written content of the ARE study books.

People began showing an interest in Lora’s sketches. First, her friends and classmates at Ball State, then gradually — thanks in no small part to posting sketches on Instagram and Twitter — her audience grew.

Lora eventually transformed those sketches into a book: ARE Sketches, a second volume of which has now been released covering new content.

“Each sketch can cover a sentence, or a paragraph, depending on the depth of what you’re trying to cover. They’re meant to be something that you can easily understand within 10-30 seconds of looking at it. Almost like a visual flipbook.”

Lora is also heavily involved with Young Architects Forum Indianapolis — YAFIndy, as it is known, is dedicated to helping young architects, whether licensed or unlicensed to achieve their dreams and teaches them things like salary negotiation, interview-preparedness, as well as conducting building tours of local architectural landmarks and a plethora of other things geared towards helping the next generation of young architects.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode

  • How Lora became very efficient with pencil-and-paper in her high school drafting class.
  • How she started her very own company, L2 Design.
  • How she transformed five-second architectural sketches into newsletters and now two books, which help hundreds of architecture students study for their ARE exams.
  • The important role that networking and making connections with the right people has played in her career.
  • How helping people has always been — and will always be — her primary goal.
  • How that goal is realized in the Young Architects Forum, a group dedicated to helping young architects realize their dreams.
  • The important role that social media has played in her success.
  • What the future holds for Lora Teagarden, ARE Sketches and L2.

Key Takeaways From This Episode With Lora Teagarden

  • Never be scared to make the first move. Lora explains the importance of networking and getting to know other people in your field, and never being afraid to reach out and connect. Those connections can prove invaluable in the future.
  • Don’t be afraid of change, embrace it. Lora was used to change, due to being in a new location every year. But that message isn’t just from a locational perspective. Social media has brought with it a plethora of change. Embrace that change and learn how to utilize it to your advantage. Whether that’s getting your name out there in a new city, or opening up a new Twitter or Instagram account or a blog, and just beginning to post.
  • Passion is your greatest friend. If you have a passion for something, you’ll succeed. The only thing stopping you with that burning passion is yourself.

Lora Teagarden’s Advice for Aspiring Architects

“Keep going! It’s really easy to get burned out and feel like you’re not making a difference. But you are, and your co-workers see it, the people in your life see it. Typically, this is a profession that requires a lot of passion, and you don’t succeed without that. My guess is, if you’re on the path to licensure, you have it. So, just keep going.”

Favorite Quotes

“I was always interested in drawing, but I would draw buildings rather than animals or people, like other young kids would do.” – Lora on her beginnings in architecture.

“I wanted to create a possibility for some sort of income amidst being able to move around and create some sort of portfolio of work since grad school that I could show people. That’s a part of who I am anyway, I needed an outlet for my passion about design.” – Lora on her passion for design and working from anywhere.

“That’s kind of how L2 got started – in the heat of a Mississippi summer, going door-to-door, trying to drum up work and just blogging about stuff that I thought was interesting. There was no rhyme nor reason or specific direction that I wanted that business to take, I kind of just starting writing and doing the things that I cared about and tried to figure out what stuck.” – Lora on creating L2.

“That was a big learning curve for me. Not only learning the world of architecture and passing my tests, but just learning how to connect with people who would leave me with a sense of stupefied awe.” – Lora on making valuable connections and networking with people.

“I wanted to help people and let it grow organically and then realized after the fact that there was a market for what I was doing.” – Lora on finding and marketing her true passion.

“I think moving around actually helped because I had to be conscious of finding people to aspire to, or people to learn from in my network, whether it was locally or nationally.” – Lora on moving around, but always staying connected.

“Everything takes longer than you think it will. And it takes patience to get there.” – Lora on what she knows now, that she didn’t know when she started.

Resources Mentioned in the Show

If you enjoyed this podcast, you should also check out:

About the author

Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect who lives in beautiful Portland, Oregon, with his Labrador Retriever. He is passionate about helping Young Architects change the world. In his free time, Michael likes to take very long bicycle rides across America. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linked In.