The Shirt on His Back

Adrien Saporiti '06 is making tee-shirts that have Nashville talking.
With a father in the music industry and a mother in the visual arts, it is little surprise that Adrien Saporiti ’06 is deeply involved in each. “I grew up going to art shows, concerts, and meetings…and it’s probably what set the inevitable artistic course of my life.” This isn’t to say that Adrien knew from the outset what his life path would be—or is even entirely sure now. He “originally [wanted to be] a rock star, then many other professions including magician and physicists. Now we’re back to rock star, followed closely by land baron.”
Adrien’s most recent venture, a high end tee-shirt and print company called DCXV (Nashville’s area code in Roman Numerals), reveals an entrepreneurial side that may help him in his pursuit of land baron status.
His business instincts came to the fore earlier in his life. He was on the committee that organized USN’s annual student-led concert night Zeitgeist all four years of his high school career. During his senior year, he was finally given the chance to run the show. He made it his mission to reinvent the show, which had been losing money and was in danger of ending for good. “I added a second stage, a DJ, and made sure to bring in some of the most popular local bands at the time. It was the first Zeitgeist to turn a profit since I had come to USN. Thankfully, I had Ben Easton ’07 as a successor, so the tradition lived on and has grown from there.”
Not all of Adrien’s memories from his time at USN are as positively inspiring.  “When I was a sophomore I asked Rebecca West ['04] out, then a senior, while Ryan Starnes giggled with mirth at my audacity. In hindsight she was most gracious, as the long hair and braces was not a good look and I would have turned me down too.”
Adrien’s foray into print making and clothing was less intentional than his work on Zeitgeist (and certainly less harrowing than asking out Rebecca West). “My band had broken up and I was looking for a new hobby that wasn’t music, so I started doing more visual and design work for fun…. After moving back to Nashville it began to irk me that there were so many items in cities like NYC or Boston for people to show pride in their cities, but all of Nashville’s was cheap, cheesy tourist swag, …so my first series, my Nashville series, began as a tribute to the city, highlighting iconography that only a local would understand the significance…. Last August’s Tomato Festival was DCXV’s first public exposure and the reception was madness. In 8 hours I sold almost as much as I was making in two months. I quickly realized I needed to devote more time to developing my little operation into a business, and by November I had quit my job with Apple. I still work out of my garage, though.”
If you see Adrien’s work, you can’t help but notice a distinctive aesthetic. “My personal style is minimalist, almost stencil-like, so I begin by making it monochromatic and stripping the object down to its ‘skeleton.’… I also like to play around with placement, for example placing my design along the bottom so it appears to rise from the hemline. On a shirt, the placement is the most crucial part because it can take a static image and give it motion and character. Perhaps it’s my slight artistic indulgence but I still insist that everything is hand-printed, so that each piece has some unique quality to it.” Grimey's record store has done a tee-shirt with Adrien, and they will premier it at a party at the Basement on March 22.
If there was a teacher at USN who helped shape Adrien’s work ethic, it would be Dr. Erskine White. “Dr. White was very influential in opening my mind and thought process to seeking out new concepts. His ridiculous (seemingly, at the time) course load is what trained me to be focused, thorough, and creative in my work. I slept through my liberal arts courses in college because the work was easy in comparison. Don’t worry, Mr. Durnan, I still graduated with honors.”
    • Adrien Saporiti '06 Has Designs on You

      Adrien Saporiti video clip.

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