[image-1] Recently we noticed some gorgeous sketches of local buildings popping up on our Instagram feed. The account, @guestcheckcharleston, launched on June 17, and has steadily grown in followers and likes.

The artist behind the account, Victoria Barlay, talked to us about the inspiration for her sketches — local buildings drawn on guest checks. Barlay is moving to Rhode Island (this week!) so enjoy her journey before she’s gone.

[image-3] CP: Where do you work/what do you do for fun and/or a living? (Clearly you’re very good at sketching).

VB: I worked for the last 18 months as an architectural design intern at Glick Boehm Architects and also as a waitress at The Rarebit. The businesses literally face each other across King street so it was pretty easy to go between the two. I also do chalk pastel portraits when I have bigger chunks of time. There are portraits of the house animals in the Music Hall for the Harry Potter film series right now. For fun I like to go running at the beach and on the bridge or see shows at Royal American!

CP: Do you live in CHS permanently or are you just here temporarily/ how long have you been here?

VB: I have lived in Charleston for two years and am moving to Providence, Rhode Island this week. I’ll be starting a masters of Architecture at RISD in September. My undergraduate studies focused on architectural history and classicism but I’m not sure what my thesis will entail just yet.

CP: What drew you to using guest checks as a medium for your sketches?

VB: For the time I worked in the office I took most of my lunches outside where I could draw in my sketchbooks. One day in November I simply forgot my sketch book but had my guest checks so I used them to draw the Artist and Craftsman/Knights of Columbus building on Calhoun Street. After that I didn’t forget my sketch book for a while…

I decided to take the month of July off from the office to enjoy Charleston but knew I needed to keep my architectural mind occupied. I turned back to the guest checks to combine the two sides of my Charleston experience. Half my time as a server hence the guests checks and then half my time as an architectural designer hence the subject matter. I started using them again in June and would do one during my lunch break and have kept at them during my summer break this month.

The scale is small and my hand cramps a lot holding the pad. The benefit is that they can be quick. I can get the scale sketch and the guest check sketch done in about an hour unless there is some crazy brick detail. I used to study architectural history by doing quick sketches on notecards and so I think the process came back naturally.

[image-4] CP: What’s your favorite building in Charleston?

VB: This question sucks ! There are so many I adore … I love 141 E Bay … those horseshoe arches and wheel windows get my heart. I really like The Ordinary and the John Rutledge house (I haven’t drawn that one yet).


CP: Will you show these pieces somewhere or are they as fleeting as their medium?

VB: Right now they are staying in the book or I’m giving them as gifts/commissions. I’d like for them to find their way onto a wine label or maybe as postcards. But I’m not sure for right now.