We had the good fortune of connecting with Keiko Moreno and Marcus LaMontagne and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Keiko Moreno and, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Any venture worth pursuing necessitates some amount of risk whether it be emotional, financial or both. My partner, Marcus LaMontagne, and I opened a business in the entertainment industry in 2016. Taking risks is an essential element for this type of occupation because it doesn’t come with a clear path or steps on a checklist that guarantee any level of success. To some extent it’s jumping into the dark with your tools in hand believing the road will meet your feet. With each new client we are asked to bid, engineer, and create something that hasn’t been done. It always feels like a risk believing we will find a way to bring that particular vision to life in the timeframe and budget available. It has been a series of calculated risks, and yet in many ways, we’ve never been happier. Doing what you love in the arts as a business is both the easiest and most difficult thing to do for a few reasons: One, the fear of losing it is always real, so you work harder and longer than you ever did before. Two, work/life balance is always shifting and never balanced because work can also be considered play, but then you wake up one day super burned out and consider changing careers. Three, because it is also a business, you must sometimes make decisions that feel counterintuitive to your artistic side. Some days you wake up wishing you had a business degree and are sad that you don’t. And four, the learning never stops so surround yourself with talented people, check your ego at the door, and learn everything you can from everyone.
We are constantly learning new lessons as we go. Each one has helped us weigh out the risk and reward better than before. In a hundred years we should really have it down. A few of the big ones are: don’t let other people’s emergencies become your emergencies. We aren’t saving lives, sometimes we are just making dragons. Jobs with unrealistic timelines are usually not worth the risk. Underbidding a project out of fear that you won’t get it is like punching yourself and all your colleagues in the face. It opens the door for corporations to take advantage of artists, and lessens the value of your own work. Finally, if you go into business with a partner, take turns being supportive of one another because self doubt hits at inconvenient times, and someone always needs to captain the boat.
What should our readers know about your business?
My partner Marcus LaMontagne and I opened Cryptic Industries in 2016. We are a design and fabrication company engaged in every aspect of the creative process. We make things for TV, film, theater, themed entertainment, marketing campaigns, museums, immersive and interactive events. Our services range from content creation, to design, fabrication and installation. Our artisans specialize in a variety of mediums, including: wood, metal, electronics, animatronics, scenic painting, specialty costumes, sculpting, engineering, practical effects, casting and molding. We can create anything from a singular specialty prop to an entire event. We feel that our ability to take a project from concept to completion under one roof is what sets us apart.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
In no particular order: We would find a theater production, and an immersive or interactive experience, go dancing at the Cicada Club and Akbar, buy some books at Vroman’s, go bowling in Eagle Rock, throw some axes at LA AX, sit at the top of Point Dume with a coffee, check out the Wildlife Learning Center, spend a few hours at Stronghold Climbing Gym, and visit The Reef downtown. Grab some food from Oba Sushi, Ivanhoe, Grill ’em All, Basecamp, The Heights Deli and Bottle Shop, Shiro, The Italian Bakery in Eagle Rock, Casa Bianca, Purgatory Pizza, Mike and Anne’s, Mambo’s Cafe, any restaurant in Little Tokyo, and get some ice cream from Kiddos Creamery. We would get drinks at Edendale, Cliff’s Edge, Taix, The Blind Donkey, or Far Bar.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Marcus and I are fortunate to have family and friends that have always been supportive. Additionally, we are so appreciative of the friends and colleagues that have helped or worked with us along the way: Chuck Hughes, Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson, Charlie Haga, Mike Stokely at Kish Rigging, Bryan Sides, Liz Alvarez, Brad Bentz, Eric Elliot of Elliott Metal Fabrication, Mel at LA Fabricators, and Chris Williams at Universal Studios Hollywood Entertainment.