‘I thought the project would be great to be interactive.’
Meet Regina, an outgoing Polish girl who loves the color pink. Instagram tells the story of her life, from romance to parties to family time, like any young adult.
But there is a catch—Regina isn’t real.
Illustrator Katarzyna Witerscheim, aka PannaN, started a webcomic series by creating an Instagram account for her original character Regina, or Regi for short. Through Regina’s handle, @1995regi, Witerscheim draws the photos that Regina posts, illustrating both the drama and day-to-day happenings of Regina’s life through her entries. Other than the fact that Regina’s life is illustrated rather than captured, her account feels less like a story and more like a friend you’d follow IRL.
Regina’s origins began in the concept of a roleplaying game Witerscheim was planning with her friends. While she was one among a few new characters, it was Regina who caught Witerscheim’s attention the most.
“I made those first selfies of her and I really liked it very much,” Witerscheim said. “I was like, ‘Maybe I should put them on Instagram because they look like Instagram selfies.’” From there, the idea to create a life and history through the platform took shape.
After consulting some fellow comic artist friends, Witerscheim didn’t receive much encouragement: “They said, ‘No, it’s not going to be a good idea. People won’t like it!'”
Save for two friends and her boyfriend, Witerscheim received many suggestions to do more work like the Disney princess artwork that was featured on DesignTAXI. “No, I’m not gonna do a fan art again,” she told them. “I want to do something that’s mine—completely mine. I’m going to take a risk.”
With more than 1,200 followers of Regina’s Instagram, it looks like that gamble paid off. And while she’s got an audience, she’s got a message to spread, too—written all in pink.
Much like in America, the color pink carries a certain stigma in Poland. If you ask the average Polish person, they’ll associate the color with “babies and stupid girls,” according to Witerscheim. “In Poland, pink is a stereotype of a stupid blonde girl [wearing] white boots and pink outfit, and that’s a problem,” she said.
To combat this issue, Witerscheim incorporated the color pink as an integral part of Regina’s character. “I wanted people to think that she’s a stereotypical pink girl but over time, people can realize that she’s a cool girl—that she’s not that stupid.”
Through the illustrations of Regina’s life, the artist hopes to portray the inaccuracy of such misconceptions and let Regina speak for herself. Literally. Whether through the comments section on Instagram or a message via Facebook, Regina’s pretty diligent about replying to her followers.
“I thought the project would be great to be interactive,” Witerscheim explained. “You can write to her, you can talk to her, you can say to her about what she should do. I don’t have one solid script. The plot can change because of the people who write to her.”
Of course since Regina only exists in the digital confines of Instagram, Witerscheim roleplays as her behind the scenes. But bringing Regina to life can prove difficult for someone who’s her complete opposite.
“I’m definitely not like Regina,” Witerscheim admitted. “I don’t even think I have friends who acts like her.” But the challenge is part of the fun, and Witerscheim has a couple tricks to help her uphold Regina’s character.
“It makes me roleplay her better if she likes some things that I like,” she said. “If you look closer to her selfies, you can see that she is reading some books about science fiction, and I like that stuff. She’s a big fan of Drake, and I love Drake. She likes the movie Grease, and I like that movie.”
But Regina isn’t the only character in the story, and for each character exists a separate Instagram account (except for Regi’s dad, because he’s not “hip” enough to be on Insta—only Facebook). Witerscheim needs to act through each of them and embody their personalities.
Probably the biggest players in the story besides Regina are the guys in her life: Sasha, Amen, and most recently, Regina’s childhood friend Corey. While roleplaying these characters isn’t as vital for Witerscheim, she uses them for different means.
“I wanted people to find out some stuff by themselves—searching for information,” Witerscheim said. “If you find out that her dad have a Facebook profile, you can see what’s her last name and see where they live because Regina has no address on her Instagram profile.”
Readers can still keep up with Regina’s story just fine through her Instagram account alone. Following the other characters just allows them to paint a better picture of the world she’s living in.
It’s also a little bit like being a member of a priority club in the sense that followers can learn new information faster than Regina posts it. “I didn’t show Amen’s face for a long time,” Witerscheim explained. “But the people who friended him on Instagram could see the photos of his face earlier than the people who did not.”
As the story grows, followers will continue to piece it together. Witerscheim aims to update Regina’s Instagram at least once every few days—a moderate amount for the average Instagrammer. Witerscheim mentioned that she will be busy preparing, as the next couple of weeks are looking busy for Regina. “We have Halloween coming up,” she noted.
“Regina is going to Amen’s party on the ranch. It’s gonna be crazy.”
For the Halloween party, Witerscheim said Regina is going as Sailor Moon, as per her followers’ suggestions. She also teased that Regina might be attending with Corey, and that we can expect to see some drama with his “douche-bag style, but is actually a nice guy” persona.
“There’s a really big twist in the story,” Witerscheim teased. “[Corey]’s gonna be really important.”
Illustration via Katarzyna Witerscheim/Instagram