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David J. Negron: In the tradition of the masters

Contrary to the modern trends of digital painting, there are some artists who carry on the classical tradition, painting with the same techniques as the old masters. Artist David J. Negron is such a person -- an impressionist painter of fine art, but also a contributor to some of the biggest films of modern times, including CLEOPATRA, STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, 1976's KING KONG, BACK TO THE FUTURE III and JURASSIC PARK.

Most of his film work involves fanciful conceptual art and elaborate storyboards, but it is perhaps a rather simple, sketchy illustration of Al Pacino, done for the poster of DOG DAY AFTERNOON, that remains Negron's most widely seen work.

Negron did some gorgeous concept art and production designs for HELLO, DOLLY!, and recalled admiring Richard Amsel's final poster for the film.

He was also one of the leading three storyboard artists for RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK -- three because, as Negron explained, director Steven Spielberg wanted to maintain the film's secrecy and not have any single artist access to the full storyline.

Negron showed me binders of his RAIDERS storyboards, along with copies of Spielberg's thumbnail sketches -- rather, the director's amusingly simplistic "doodles" that he would hand over to the storyboard artists, to better fully realize. "He's a genius director, but not much of an illustrator," I giggled. Negron responded with all the tactfulness of a seasoned pro: "I have no comment," he smiled.

While his interview included some thoughtful commentary on Amsel's work, Negron also tellingly admitted that he was usually removed from the final marketing process, as his experience was geared more towards a film's early and production stages. The studios would spend considerable time and money developing and shooting their projects, but the marketing and poster work was all too often just a penny-pinching afterthought.

Mr. Negron's work has been showcased in numerous galleries, but I hope that a retrospective book may one day be on the horizon.

Heartfelt thanks to Mr. Negron for allowing us to interview him in his beautiful studio, and to his agent, Cindy Santos, for helping us coordinate the meeting.

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