Masha Vereshchenko crosses her legs as she sits on Boheme’s window sill in Lawrenceville with Bat, her little 7 month old Chihuahua who enthusiastically climbs on top of her. She is dressed in black, but her modern neon yellow mullet and red eyeshadow are juxtaposed with her dark outfit, much like her own work of art.
Vereshchenko considered herself an artist before she even remembered it. From her birth in Russia to her childhood in Detroit to her last 20 years in Pittsburgh, the South Side artist has matured with her talents and is now the fashion designer and owner of Electric Cat Shop.
“It’s my twisted sense of humor mixed with pop culture,” Vereshchenko says of his designs.
Boheme, located at 5156 Butler St., is an indoor market that opened in July 2021, featuring a variety of local artists and vendors looking for an in-person location. Each business is separated into small sections of the building. Electric Cat is one of the other stores that sell items such as vintage clothing, handmade soaps and candles.
The corner section of Vereshchenko in Bohemia faces a window facing Butler Street, allowing people to peek at his designs from the sidewalks. Her work easily catches the eye with a vibrant color palette and cutting-edge designs that she uses in the majority of her work.
The wall in Vereshchenko’s section is painted in large waves of orange, pink and blue pastels resembling a melting rainbow sherbet on a hot summer day. The front of the section is filled with colorful shelves that match the pastel waves and contains an abundance of hand-painted earrings, necklaces, prints of paintings and vests, all designed and made by Vereshchenko.
She says she incorporates a lot of dark humor into her work, which can be seen in her earrings resembling Chinese porcelain teacups spilling blood and large earrings that read “Fuck Off ”in cursive letters.
“I started by buying molds and resin on Etsy, but these are not my designs. They’re just pre-made molds, and I’m just putting on colors, basically, ”Vereshchenko says of her jewelry designs. “But as soon as I did enough, I got a makerspace subscription so I could use a laser cutter.”
Vereshchenko first uses Adobe Illustrator to virtually design her necklaces and earrings, then uses a laser cutter on an acrylic base or recycled material to turn her designs into jewelry.
In addition to designing and making jewelry, Vereshchenko also hand-painted clothes like leather jackets, using empty sleeves and backs as canvas. An impressive blue and green gradient jacket accented with monster mouths with sharp teeth and eyes took him a month to paint.
Vereshchenko says she is not as focused on painting clothes as she creates jewelry, due to the immense time it takes to complete the projects, while not selling the clothes for what they are worth. .
“I try to establish the little things first, that it can be my bread and butter, while the good buyers come and buy my artwork, my jackets and everything,” she says.
Although Vereshchenko is now able to make Electric Cat his main focus and his full-time job, it was not always so.
“I have a tough and brutal past and you know it’s never going to go away. But that’s me, and why that made me interesting, ”says Vereshchenko.
Prior to her efforts for Electric Cat, Vereshchenko’s art was mainly painting, which she says was very difficult to live with. Although his paintings may have traveled to showcases around the world, they have not been able to make ends meet.
“In my twenties, I ended up pretty much like an alcoholic and just depressed,” she says. “I was spending all my money on art supplies and alcohol, and that was my life.”
Years later, at the age of 30, Vereshchenko says she made an effort to change her life, get sober, and continue therapy. It was also at this time that she became interested in photography and drag queens, muses of her work and her personal fashion.
Vereshchenko says she used to photograph drag queens at local clubs and bars around Pittsburgh, like Blue Moon in Lawrenceville, and fell in love with the fashion and makeup incorporated into drag.
Although Vereshchenko does not personally perform in drag shows, she still dresses extravagantly, accented with extravagant makeup when attending events and looks like a work of art herself. As many drag queens tend to create their own outfits, Vereshchenko creates custom pieces that they can include in their wardrobes.
And while there are dark themes associated with Vereshchenko’s jewelry and clothing, she says the colors she uses are often vibrant compared to her previous work.
“My painting I did when I was deeply depressed – it was mostly just to vent and bring it all out. So it was dark, bitter and disgusting, ”says Vereshchenko.
When Vereshchenko got sober, she says she had a creative block where she couldn’t paint anymore.
“I’m happy now,” Vereshchenko says as she sits in her shop, surrounded by pops of color.
Electric cat shop. 5156 Butler Street, Lawrenceville. electriccat.ninja and instagram.com/electriccatshop