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About Us

A Brief History

Since 1964 Derivan has been committed to providing the arts community with the world's finest-quality artist acrylic colours and mediums. The founders of the company had a vision "to make available to artists worldwide a premium paint, whilst remaining environmentally and socially responsible". This was to be achieved while still maintaining the quality and personal touch that only a family company can provide. We have succeeded in just that, and Derivan has consequently grown from a tiny affair (operating out of stables in Sydney's inner city) to the multinational operation that it is today. With manufacturing sites spanning 3 continents, we have not lost sight of the fact that at the end of the day, we are here to provide the finest products that can be made, guided by the requirements of our customers. This is our promise to you, the artist, and is realised in our Matisse range of premium acrylics and mediums, all made to the highest standards to ensure not only the most brilliant and pure results, but a safety in the knowledge that your work will not crack, fade, or change over time in any way.

Derivan Innovations

In the Derivan range of school products, we produced a world-first in the 1960s - "student grade acrylic" - then successfully introduced completely non-toxic screen inks and block inks where previously inks containing toxic solvents were the only choice.

In the 1970s it came to our attention that our children's paint was being used to paint children's faces at fairs and school fetes. Although the paint was non-toxic, it was not formulated for prolonged use on the skin, so Derivan set about formulating another world-first: Face and Body Paint, which has seen increasing sales ever since!

Into the 21st century Derivan is as committed to new and exciting innovations as ever. Our Liquid Pencil formula is completely unique, and offers a number of advantages over traditional pencils and inks. Our brand-new Dry Mediums range provides a new and flexible way for artists to experiment with a practically unlimited variety of textural effects.

Community Support

Derivan is an equal opportunities employer. Derivan is constantly involved with and supports both local community and charity, and art promotion projects across Australia and the world. Derivan is at the forefront of employing environmentally sound practices both in the manufacturing of the products and in the products themselves.

See also our dedicated Sustainability web page.

What's In A Name?

The name Derivan originated from an early period in our history, in the mid 1960’s, when the company entrusted with registering our initial trademark name returned to us and explained that the originally chosen name was “unavailable” in some countries, in other words a similar name was already registered or in some cases patent laws in place prevented it from being registered. They suggested that it would be prudent to choose a few “derivatives” to give their company some lee-way in the patent registration process.

To satisfy the trademark attorneys - the initials of the team in the office at that time were put in a “hat” and from it drew out the letters that would inspire them to come up with a distinctively individual (and registrar-able) name. That name became “Derivan” – a word that meant or had reference to nothing in particular, neither someone’s nor a place’s name; in essence, a unique and without comparison word.
A word that would conform with the restrictions of patent laws encountered in the process. A word that would echo the creative nature of that initial vision shared by a group of artists to make available a high grade of paint products, manufactured by artists for artists.

The name "Matisse" itself was originally only the project name for a product range in development at the time, which came about because one of the first people to get involved was obsessed with the work of Henri Matisse - the name stuck!