One word can create a movement. One word can ignite passion. One word can change the way people look at the world. Sometimes, it only takes one word. For two Cal Poly students, that word was “funk.”

Respect the Funk is a new magazine that brings together the creativity of San Luis Obispo artists to showcase a variety of artistic forms. The pictures, drawings and stories throughout the magazine embody the idea of living a free and funky life.

The magazine is a countercultural movement created by Cal Poly juniors Nathan Doherty and Marion Beacham.

“There are a lot of normalities at Cal Poly and a lot of people that are trying to fit into some cookie cutter mold,” environmental management and protection junior Doherty said. “We just asked, ‘Where’s the funk, man?’”

Both Doherty and art and design junior Beacham emphasized the authenticity of the magazine.

“It’s an authentic portrayal of what our life is like here. It’s a collective demonstration of how we see the world,” Doherty said. “It’s a movement of authenticity that they can be a part of. Respect the Funk is an open door. It’s a compilation of art. It’s allowing a child’s drawing to be a sufficient expression of life.”

Finding inspiration
Last summer, when Doherty went to Burning Man — an annual gathering in Black Rock Desert, Nevada — he saw something that he hadn’t seen before: seemingly crazy ideas coming to life. The event, influenced by 10 main principles including “radical” inclusion, cooperation and civic responsibility, inspired Doherty to bring this vision to life, despite his young age and lack of resources.

But because of these limitations, he realized he needed some help.

“Amazing things aren’t done by yourself,” Doherty said. “You meet up with other people that are also doing awesome things and you work together to create something better than anything you could’ve done by yourself.”

A few months later in December, Doherty told his close friend Beacham about his idea to create a platform showcasing the creativity of the Central Coast. The pair immediately teamed up.

“I had been wanting to create something since the summer,” Beacham said. “When Nate came to me, I immediately thought ‘This is it.’ I didn’t think it was crazy at all. I thought it was epic.”

The pair set off to put together Respect the Funk, named after Doherty’s bike.

“I have this really wacky looking bike,” Doherty said. “It has fur on it and is just super funky. It’s really hard not to notice. People would see it and smile and put up peace signs or wave to me. I would ride it to class every day and not lock it up. And no one would ever steal it because they respected the funk.”

Bringing it all together

Doherty and Beacham’s first task was finding artists to feature in the magazine. They wanted to find unknown people who were making art but weren’t being noticed for it. They hung out at the Craft Center on campus, Dexter Lawn, local art shows and surf spots. They talked to anyone and everyone they could find involved with art in any form.

They found 20 local artists and photographers, all younger than 25, to supply content for
their vision.

One of these artists was local photographer Bryan Palafox.

“It’s super cool to be a part of the original funkness,” industrial engineering senior Palafox said. “I want to spread it now. I found there’s this vibrant community of artists that see the world a certain way and if you’re one of them, there’s a place for you.”

Palafox mostly photographs nature, using long exposure to capture the beauty of San Luis Obispo’s natural surroundings. He was involved in the magazine from the beginning.

“Nate came to me with the idea and I was just stoked,” Palafox said. “It’s really exciting to be a part of something from the beginning. I knew I wanted to contribute right away.”

Palafox said funk can be anything, found anywhere at
any time.

“Funk might mean music, might mean beautiful art,” Palafox said. “For me, it’s photography. But it’s something that isn’t necessarily constrained by the structure around you. It’s plain expression. I don’t think
it’s definable.”

For Beacham and Doherty, Palafox was one of many artists they were excited to feature.

“Funky people are so inspiring,” Beacham said. “They’re people you want to look at and want to talk to. They aren’t perfect but they have such
good qualities.”

The first print

Inspired by local music festival Shabang, Doherty reached out to the organizers to sell his finished product at the eighth Shabang. They told Doherty that if he and Beacham could finish the magazine by the spring festival, they would have their own space to sell their finished product.

They now had a deadline.

After finding artists and setting a date, Beacham worked for four months designing and redesigning the first issue of this project. Through advertisements and Doherty’s own investment, they were able to fund the project.

In early May, Beacham drove alone to Los Angeles to pick up 1,000 copies of the first edition of Respect the Funk. She ripped open one of the magazine-filled boxes immediately.

“I was frothing,” Beacham said, laughing with Doherty. “When you see your work in your hands, it’s just crazy.
It’s insane.”

Four hours later, it was Doherty’s turn to see how his vision turned into a reality.

“I can’t stop looking at it. It’s been three days and I still can’t stop looking at it,” Doherty said while flipping through the pages of the magazine.

Even Palafox couldn’t believe that his photos were featured.

“Sometimes on social media and Instagram you can get lost,” Palafox said. “It was such a gratifying feeling. I put all this work [in] to get good at my craft and to see my photos with everyone else’s, it was just a great, great feeling. Now that it’s put on paper, it’s a static thing and I can always go back to it.”

After a successful Shabang, Doherty and Beacham said they want to sell the rest of their copies and look toward issue number two. People already started reaching out for next
year’s edition.

Doherty said he hopes everyone who reads Respect the Funk
is inspired.

“You look at this magazine and see tons of creative art,” he said. “These aren’t professionals. These are people you go to school with. These are people you see at parties. You can do this. Keep trying new things. Keep being adventurous. Find the funk. Be the funk.”

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