We had the good fortune of connecting with Lap Ngo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lap, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think risk is relative. I also attribute risk to decision making. That being said, I am generally a risk averse person. I will do my best to do a risk/reward analysis and decide from there. Will this hurt me? Will this hurt my family? Physically? Emotionally? Mentally? Monetarily? What are the benefits? How far will the negative ripples spread? Are the benefits worth the negatives? Focus on what I believe will happen, while still being open to what might happen.
Being risk averse, I don’t take too many risks. Any risks I do take, I do my best to mitigate the negatives if the situation goes down hill. I have noticed though, the more risky decisions I make, the easier it is to make more risky decisions. Does that make sense? It’s kind of like pushing your boundaries. You take a step outside your comfort zone and your comfort zone expands ever so much. Maybe just a fraction of the step out, but you build from there.
I still avoid risk, but the things I consider risky has definitely change with time. I guess that’s just life right?
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My company is Knocks On Wood Productions, based in Anaheim CA. We work with artists, focused right now on the toy art scene, to bring their characters to life in wood. I was in the vinyl toy industry for many years, left to pursue my graphic design career. I burnt out there and just despised the idea of looking at screens for work for the rest of my life. I quit that job and just got by for a couple years sunk in a deep existential dread. I didn’t know what to do, day blended into day. Nothing really brought me any joy. I don’t remember exactly what happened but I decided to buy a mini lathe from the local hardware shop, started turning magic wands and wood rings. I found a spark again, I was reading articles on carpentry, wood turning, joinery, kumiko… okay… lets be honest, I watched YouTube of these topics hahaa. The more I learned the more I wanted to lean, the more i wanted to make this hobby into a career. Back to being risk averse, I took my time trying to figure out which direction i wanted to move with this vague idea. From furniture making, to cutting boards, bowls, random things i could make but couldn’t justify as a career. I thought If only I could merge my desire for woodworking with the art scene I loved so much, I would be able to contribute something to the community. I asked around and artist I knew, Kano, gave me the chance to bring his character the Bodega to life in wood.
It was a very hectic process, and even now with our current projects, there are kinks and road bumps to overcome. It is all a learning process and with every day we grow into a better version of Knocks On Wood. We are overcoming our challenges as they come. Some we didn’t even know would be issues, but here we are.
I guess, if there is anything I want the world to know is, we may not be the fastest growing company, but we are steady, and one day will stand tall and strong with deep roots and far reaching branches.
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.
I love this little Cafe/Bakery in Anaheim, called Okayama Kobo, get some iced chai latte and a pastry. Probably go hike a beach trail at Crystal Cove State park. Hit up some art galleries like Giant Robot Gallery On Sawtelle. Disneyland is always a good time, but it might be hard to get tickets right now. Huntington Beach for a nice little bond fire always a good way to end a day.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The person who deserve a dedication is my mom! I am definitely someone who is stubborn, abrasive and, somewhat hard to work with. Mom has always been there to support me and knock some sense into me, when I need it. Thank you mom for loving me, even when you don’t understand/like the things I make