Negrón began making portraits of people’s backs around 17 years ago. At the time, his friend’s three-year-old son had expressed an interest in art, a curiosity Negrón happily encouraged. “I thought, you’re young, let’s do something easy: Let’s start with portraits,” he remembers of his exchange with the toddler. So the duo headed to San Juan’s annual post-Christmas street festival, the Fiesta de la Calle San Sebastián, to set up a spontaneous portrait studio.
Upon arrival, they quickly realized they weren’t alone—many other portrait artists dotted the festival. So Negrón consulted with his young compatriot: How could they offer something different? They decided to sketch subjects’ backs, and asked a buck a piece for their unorthodox drawings.
To Negrón’s surprise, the response was effusive. People lined up to take part, and Negrón’s artist-peers encouraged him to keep at it. The D.I.Y. portrait pop-up also connected Negrón with a community outside of his creative circle; he was excited that he might be introducing at least some of them to art.