Masha Vereshchenko poses with her art at Boheme in Lawrenceville.
Masha Vereshchenko crosses her legs as she sits on the windowsill of Boheme in Lawrenceville with Bat, her tiny, 7-month-old Chihuahua excitedly climbing over her. She’s dressed in black, but her neon yellow modern mullet and red eyeshadow juxtaposes against her dark outfit, much like her own artwork.
Vereshchenko has considered herself an artist since before she can remember. From her birth in Russia to growing up in Detroit to her past 20 years spent in Pittsburgh, the South Side artist has matured along 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 about her designs.
Boheme, located at 5156 Butler St., is an indoor market that opened in July 2021, featuring a variety of local artists and vendors seeking an in-person location. Each business is separated into small sections of the building. Electric Cat is among other shops that sell items like vintage clothing and handmade soaps and candles.
Vereshchenko’s corner section in Boheme faces a window looking onto Butler Street, allowing people to peek at her designs from the sidewalks. Her work easily draws attention with a vibrant color palette and avant-garde designs she uses in the majority of her work.
Electric Cat Jewelry on display at Boheme in Lawrenceville
The wall of Vereshchenko’s section is painted in large waves of orange, pink, and blue pastels resembling rainbow sherbet melting on a hot summer day. The front of the section is filled with colorful shelves that match the pastel waves, and hold an abundance of earrings, necklaces, prints of paintings, and hand-painted vests, all designed and crafted by Vereshchenko.
She says she incorporates a lot of dark humor into her work, which can be seen in her earrings resembling porcelain China tea cups spilling blood and large statement earrings reading “Fuck Off” in cursive letters.
“I started with just buying molds and resin on Etsy, but those aren’t my designs. They’re just pre-made molds, and I just put colors in, basically,” Vereshchenko says about her jewelry designs. “But as soon as I made enough from that, I got a membership at a makerspace 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 transform her designs into jewelry.
Aside from designing and crafting jewelry, Vereshchenko also hand paints clothes like leather jackets, using the sleeves and empty backs as her canvas. An impressive blue-and-green gradient jacket accented with monster mouths featuring razor-sharp teeth and eyes took her a month to paint.
Vereshchenko says she isn’t as focused on painting clothes as she is creating jewelry, due to the immense amount of time it takes to complete the projects, all while not selling the clothing for what it’s worth.
“I'm trying to establish the small things first, that it can be my bread and butter, while the right buyers come and buy my art and jackets and everything else,” she says.
Although Vereshchenko is now able to make Electric Cat her primary focus and full-time job, it wasn’t always that way.
“I have a brutal hard past and you know, that's never gonna go away. But it’s me, and why it’s made me interesting,” Vereshchenko says.
Prior to her Electric Cat endeavors, Vereshchenko’s art was primarily painting, which she says was very difficult to make a living off of. Though her paintings were able to travel in showcases around the world, it didn’t make ends meet.
“In my twenties, I pretty much ended up like an alcoholic, and just depressed,” she says. “I was spending all of my money on art supplies and booze, and that was my life.”
Years later, when she turned 30, Vereshchenko says she made an effort to turn her life around, get sober, and continue therapy. This was also when she became interested in photography and drag queens, who are a muse in her work and 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 in drag.
While Vereshchenko does not personally perform in drag shows, she still dresses extravagantly, accented with outlandish makeup when attending events, and looks like a piece of art herself. As many drag queens tend to create their own outfits, Vereshchenko makes custom pieces for them to include in their wardrobes.