This Artist is Sketching Her Way Through Providence One Restaurant Check Pad at a Time

Victoria Barlay shares her creative renderings on her Instagram account, @guestchecksketch.
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Photography courtesy of Victoria Barlay.

Victoria Barlay is sketching her way through Providence, a pen and restaurant guest check pad at the ready, recording the latest architectural marvel and publishing the results on her Instagram account, @guestchecksketch. The Ohio native, who graduated in June from RISD with a master’s degree in architecture, began the project in Charleston, S.C., where she had moved in search of the beach and historic architecture, interning at an architectural firm during the day and working in a restaurant at night. She was on a lunch break and the only thing she had to draw on was her guest check pad. When she came to Providence three years ago for grad school, the Guest Check Sketch project came with her. “I try to keep the drawings to places that are significant to me or to restaurants I really enjoy,” she says. “Sometimes it’s something about the architecture that speaks to me, or the character of a building catches my eye.” She’s a sucker for porticos and any structure with columns; the Old Stone Bank building on South Main Street and the Providence Athenaeum are particularly lovely, she says. So, too, are the area’s lightning splitters. “I think they have a kind of fun, kind of ominous, spooky vibe,” she says. “You think, ‘Who lives there? A member of the Addams family or some warlock?’” Although most restaurants are moving toward tablets and other POS systems, Barlay will stick with her guest check pads. She loves the obsolescence of the medium, and the reminder of her hardworking peers in the hospitality industry. She’ll always tip 20 percent and encourages others to do the same. @guestchecksketch