Brianne McGuire

Brianne McGuire is a researcher, designer and content producer working with sex media. She is the founder of GRAPHICPAINT, a platform for uncensored, crowdsourced materials, and host of SEX COMMUNICATION, a podcast of real sex audio recordings and explicit personal histories. Her work centers around the belief that if we change the way sexual content is presented, we can change the way people behave and think.
Brianne’s projects are built using both design and behavior theory; her years of experience studying human interaction with various media have informed her innovative ideas. She is committed to normalizing the taboo and creating a cultural shift towards the free expression of sexuality. Through provocative presentations of authentic experiences, she inspires her audience to challenge their preconceived notions and practice radical self acceptance.
Prior to launching GRAPHICPAINT, Brianne spent two decades working as a graphic designer and brand strategist for clients ranging from public corporations to independent startups. She studied Industrial Design at Pratt Institute before shifting to print and web-based work as a professional.
Brianne is based in New York City where she documents sex, develops original media and writes regularly for OVEE Health.

Where did the idea for GRAPHICPAINT come from?

GRAPHICPAINT is the evolution of a project I started in 2001, a crowdsourced zine of arty pornography. I’ve always been very sexual, very transparent, and very interested in provoking people. I feel driven to present sex in a way that is more high-brow, creative, honest and boundary-pushing than what is currently available. People are uncomfortable speaking openly about sex and I believe that stems from the way we perceive it, from education, social conditioning and most importantly, media. Sex is a topic segregated from all others and as a result, shame and fear become the associations. GRAPHICPAINT is a safe space for consumption and contribution of anything related to real life, but especially sex. Crowdsourcing is an integral part of the venture as it empowers visitors to feel a part of something bigger than themselves and find value in their own story as they relate to others.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

These days I wake up at 7am; I immediately make myself coffee and then sit down at the computer. I ease into the day by responding to emails, making updates to my website, taking care of any administrative details in life or business, and then I write. I write pitches to publications, drafts of articles, requests for interviews to individuals both in and out of my industry. I take breaks often to switch mediums; I’ll put together social media assets or image headings, etc. or I’ll work on new episodes of the SEX COMMUNICATION Podcast hosted by GRAPHICPAINT. Multiple days a week I record new interviews or activities, edit the files and produce the episodes and related materials. I make lunch around 2pm and not long after I take a nap. I’m sober and work on my recovery daily which often involves going to a 12-step meeting. Once I’m back at home, I eat again and then work on finishing up the different tasks of the day. I also use this time to sit quietly and plan bigger picture things like goals for the month, quarter, year and beyond. The very last thing I do is listen to a 20-minute guided meditation while I lay in bed.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I think about things for a long time before I act; part of this is procrastination but a bigger part is giving myself free rein to explore possibilities and work through all the parts before I take any action. I am a big fan of making a terrible first draft of whatever I’m working on to inspire my inclination to “fix” things; once I begin “fixing” I gain momentum and that’s how I bring things to fruition.

What’s one trend that excites you?

There is a widespread push towards sex positivity and inclusivity that gives me such joy. I am so excited by all the activists and content being created that supports awareness, acceptance and honesty as it relates to every aspect of personal identity — it’s really beautiful.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

My use of Post Its! I use them for everything: labels, reminders, mantras, task management… They are most helpful to me in tracking the items I have to work on and the items I have already completed. When something is a “to do” I write it down on a Post It and place it on my desk to the left of my keyboard. When something is “done” I move the note to the right of my keyboard; doing this allows me to feel a sense of accomplishment.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t listen to other people, even family! At least in terms of what you what to do with your life… So many people are risk-averse and not willing to dream big; following the advice of people not motivated by the same passions is often detrimental. It makes you second-guess your ideas and worry about disappointing the wrong people. If I had spent more time worrying about disappointing myself rather than my family, and believing wholeheartedly in my “crazy ideas,” I could have gotten started living my truth that much sooner.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Do more of the thing you are trying to stop doing. Change is a process, often a long and painful process. The first part is awareness of what you want to change, acceptance is the second, and action is the third. The acceptance part is the hardest, and for me that phase involves embracing whatever I am trying to change by doubling down on the unwanted thing. Want to stop overeating? Eat even more. Want to stop procrastinating? Stop responding to anything. Want to stop staying up too late? Stay up till the sun rises. And on and on… By approaching the situation in this way I not only give myself the “reward” of bad behavior, I eventually make myself sick of the bad behavior and once that happens, it is no longer rewarding and that is the exact moment I become truly willing to act differently.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I keep going. This sounds overly simple but it is the most important thing; when I am exhausted, defeated, unsure, struggling, whatever… I keep taking action, I keep pushing, I JUST KEEP GOING. Even one little step is enough to keep me moving forward.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Talking to strangers never fails to garner support and engagement which are key to my venture. I am passionate about my project and it comes across when I meet someone new. And this strategy isn’t specific to business events; every single person I meet is a potential customer or collaborator or both.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I ignored some red flags and my gut feelings when I started looking for a web developer. I was courting someone whose work I respected, who I knew personally — and I let that attachment and familiarity cloud my judgment and it set my timeline back at least 6 months. I broke off the work relationship before any money exchanged hands and moved forward with another professional who had been highly recommended by a colleague. This new developer has been more helpful, reliable and communicative than I could have hoped and it is such a relief to feel good this partner instead of feeling a pit in my stomach.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Porndora. I don’t know if Pandora is still a thing but someone should really build the porn version that smartly recommends content and learns from reactions and engagement.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Dinner with an old college friend. We got to catch up but also reignite the fiery creative sparks of our design studies. There was something so special about the time in college dedicated to making things and big ideas… very rarely do I have the opportunity to devote myself so fully to such freeform exploration these days. We both left inspired.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Google’s suite of web-products is invaluable. I use Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Forms, Hangout, etc. and they are available on my phone, laptop, desktop, everything. Being able to access them offline is another huge benefit. I keep track of notes, appointments, tasks, meetings, everything! I would be lost without Google.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

War Of Art by Steven Pressfield. This book is a quick read, yet powerful and motivating. The content is as evergreen as can be and always gives me a boost.

What is your favorite quote?

“Perfect is the enemy of done” – Catherine Carrigan

I think of this every time I’m struggling to start or struggling to finish. I’d rather have something imperfect I can work from than to toil endlessly towards the idea of perfection, never able to move forward.

Key Learnings:

  • Trust your gut and sense of self over all else
  • Keep track of what you’ve already accomplished along with what you still have to d
  • Never stop — no matter how small the step, it’s always better than being still
  • You can always do better later, do something right now and go from there