Graphic designer, entrepreneur, and artist, Adrien Saporiti, 28, was born and raised in Nashville.
Growing up on the west side of town, he was always around the music industry and the arts. His mother was an artist and his father, now retired, was a record label executive at Warner Music Nashville from the 1970s until the 1990s.
“The city has certainly changed over time. When I was a kid, it seemed boring,” he said. “As a kid, you don’t culturally appreciate what Nashville is to the rest of the world. It was cool realizing all that as I got older.”
In 2006, Adrien graduated from University School of Nashville. He took a year break before going off to study music business in Boston at Berklee College of Music. Coming back home in 2010, his perspective on his city changed.
“I felt like my world got a lot bigger. Maybe that’s Nashville or maybe that’s me. What changed, the city or me?”
Initially invested in music, Adrien used to plays the guitar, the bass, and write songs. Now, he said life has gotten busy with design and art for his company DCXV Industries.
“I would love to record some stuff again and play around with that. Hopefully, I can find a balance to reincorporate some music time in my day,” he said. “The music part is a core part of me and how I interactive with the world.”
DCXV INDUSTRIES and STREET ART
In 2010, after returning home from Boston, Adrien started an apparel brand out of his parents’ garage. He named it DCXV which are the Roman numerals for 615.
“It was a subtle way to represent Nashville without being too overt,” he said. “I wanted to pay homage and give a shot out. I don’t like to be too generic. I like subtlety and minimalism.”
Adrien was originally making designs for a band he was in. When things didn’t work out with the band, he kept designing.
“The Nashville-themed work started because growing up no one made cool Nashville stuff that didn’t come from China to be sold on Broadway,” he said.
He said in his college travels he saw people in their hometown in big cities like Chicago, Boston, and New York make real and respectable things. He said he wanted to bring that vibe to Nashville.
Other than a Photoshop class he took in high school, he has taught himself how to do graphic design.
“If I like something then I get really into it,” he said. “I tend to hyper-focus. I don’t really think about whether or not I can do something. I just do it. If it turns out better than expected than I keep doing it.”
Adrien said that mentality is how he started doing murals and street art. He was designing part-time for about two years when at the end of 2011, he decided to give it all his time and all he had and go full-time with it.
“I had no plan and zero savings, but I had to this because people seem to like it and I liked it,” he said.
He started this new endeavor by building up a portfolio when he came up with the “I Believe in Nashville” design. He said ironically enough he didn’t think people would buy it on a T-shirt, so he decided to make it into a mural.
“I had never done a mural before, but I saw a wall on 12th South and thought it would be cool to put it there as a positive thing,” he said. “This was around the time 12th South was starting to revitalize itself. We were starting to see the change and growth in Nashville reflected in that community.”
Right away people started responding to his work, and within a couple of months Adrien had done two other “I Believe in Nashville” murals around town.
Since then, he’s been asked to do other work including a mural at Center 615 in East Nashville and what he calls “hieroglitches” in the alleyway of Three Brothers Coffee on West End.
Within the last year or two, his opportunities in Nashville have allowed him to go to other cities abroad to explore what it would be like to do murals and street art full-time.
Adrien has done street art and murals in London and Amsterdam and is working on doing something in Bogotá, Columbia.
He said the mindset on public art and street art around town is starting to change for the better.
“In Nashville, it’s hit or miss and mainly miss because the city is only now coming around to the idea that street art is a positive thing,” he said. “There are people Bryan Deese who are have been doing it for decades and who are very well respected. It’s only in the last couple of years that I feel like we’re starting to see more than just basic tags but actual artists doing pieces.”
Adrien said it’s cool to see the street art scene in his hometown grow and change at an age when he can be a part of it. Along with praising its progress he also said more needs to be done to support it. He said he would like to see more businesses in the city working with artists, calling that a win-win situation.
“You can’t just put stuff up wherever you want and expect to make a living doing that,” he said. “I would like to see more support because that would give artists a chance to be artists. Street art can benefit and beautify parts of the city that often get neglected.”
Adrien has a DCXV store in East Nashville on Porter Rd where he sells apparel and other things with his designs.
“I understand and respect that a lot of people do want a real option regarding Nashville apparel that isn’t covered in rhinestones and has a guitar on it,” he said.
CHANGE COMES HOME
Change is difficult for everyone and Adrien said Nashville’s explosive growth over the last few years is something that’s both good and bad.
“Everything has two sides. Things ebb and flow, and I always try to remember,” he said.
A few years ago Adrien said the rock/Indie music scene in Nashville was awesome. He said it was the kind of thing where all the bands knew each other and other artists. He said culturally, that’s a big part of what make the city what it is.
“I can’t go anywhere in the world, literally, without some connection to Nashville whether that’s running into someone who has recently visited or someone I know,” he said. “Now, there are bands in town not connecting the same way. In that aspect, it’s not a good or bad thing. It’s just something I’ve noticed.”
Adrien said he’s interested to see how a balance is found between the community, business, artists, and industry.
“As things move forward, the city will have to adapt to that, and we have to ask ourselves, are we going to cater more toward our community or are we going to cater to tourists?”
“There are positives and negatives, and we’re just at a point where it’s going to be interesting to see which way the city goes. Thus far, Megan Barry seems to be on it. I think we’re in the eye of the storm right now and we’re going to see how it shakes it out.”
Adrien said in the future he’d love to see an emphasis on the core and infrastructure of the city and things that everyone could benefit from, both visitors and residents. He said he’d also like to see more support for artists in the financial sense regarding affordable housing, tax breaks, and maybe a union for different types of artists.
“Nashville is becoming a true creative hub. There’s always been a creative vibe, but the music industry overshadowed it. Now, with city’s growth we see things like tech, design, visual arts, and culinary arts growing into their own.”
COMMUNITY and CONCERNS
Adrien said if someone is living and working in a society then for better or worse, they are a part of that community.
“A community, in an ideal sense, is people who are choosing to work together for the betterment of themselves and everyone around them.”
He said what makes a community strong is understanding that not everyone has the same view on things or likes everything that is going on. He said the true meaning of the word community is coming together because of the simple fact that people affect one another.
He said as he’s getting older he’s thinking about where he should be in life, not professionally, but personally.
“I’ve learned that your twenties are an amazing time to be selfish in the best sense of the word,” he said. You get the time to focus on what you want to do and accomplish. You need have those experiences so you can learn.”
He said he’s been able to do that and doesn’t want to stop doing that, but at the same time life is changes and he wants to make more time for things that matter most.
“I don’t for a second think this is it, that this is the rest of my life. I’ve done enough and seen enough to know that you never really know until after the fact, so you just got to be open to going through things and experiencing things. Go with your gut. Worst-case scenario things don’t work out but maybe the next thing will.”
Adrien said if anyone in the universe can see what he does and feel an impact on their life, then that’s what it’s all about and that’s enough for him.
“Life is hard. If you can have any positive influence on the world then that’s an accomplishment,” he said. One of the things, he said he likes the most is being so well supported. He said at the end of the day it all comes back to the community.
“What makes Nashville different than other places is that people are aware of themselves and the people who live and work around them.”
Adrien said in other cities you might not find that, but in Nashville, you can walk into a coffee shop and have a conversation with your barista about anything.
“Community isn’t always this idea that a tree falls and everyone shows up with their axes to chop it up,” he said. “It can be as simple as taking an interest in the people who live in the world around you. It’s being aware. It’s being woke. Stay woke Nashville.”
*Drops the mic and walks out*
Thanks for reading Nashville!