John Derian is a professional decoupage artist who also happens to be collector of 18th and 19th century paper printed antique documents and letters. His specialty and passion are maps, trade cards, and handwritten letters. “I seemed to be drawn to the 19th century. There are so many beautiful lithographs (from that era), so I started collecting them.” It all started for him 16 years ago when he found himself drawn to vintage cards and almanacs. Derian started enlarging parts of handwritten letters from the 1800s for a collage experiment, and it was at that point when his career first took off. His technique known as reverse decoupage is where he applies his carefully cut photocopied 19th century nature illustrations onto the backs of clear glass plates. He recently told the Denver Post that when he was 20, he was enrolled in college, but found himself more drawn to antique hunting, so he skipped school and went after his passions full time. (John Derian Photographed By Ryan Benyi)
When his passion started becoming a full time job, he decided to open shop in Manhattan’s East Village. At the time, he hoped it would just pay the rent. He remembers thinking the following at the time….
“Hey, if I sell a plate a day, that will help pay the rent.”
Today he sells a collection of wares to 300 stores, including your local Target. John Derian’s decoupage plates in New York are hand crafted, while his line for Target is mass produced for the public. Although the items in his Target line are melamine copies, they have such beautiful appeal that you cannot help but grab them at an affordable price.