Albert King on convention, creativity and carving out a lifelong business
Albert King had never realised the value of his work until a fellow artist encouraged him to exhibit it. Many decades later, he continues to showcase his unique, contemporary pieces online, embracing technology and its value to running a business. This is the inspirational story of Albert King Wood Carvings.
A labour of love
A self-confessed countryman and nature lover, Albert King takes pride in his craftsmanship, aiming to highlight the beauty in nature through wood sculpting and carving.
“As one of nature’s products, I have always had a love of wood; the smell, texture, and the grain. It is the only medium I feel at home with, and my aim is to develop and enhance that which nature has already produced. I am driven by my passion to make beautiful sculptures depicting nature which are appreciated by other nature lovers. Nature is the basis of life and I do my best to portray its beauty, whether it is in the form of a bird of prey, a hare or an abstract form.”
First inspired as an apprentice engineer, Albert learnt a lot from a mentor who could seemingly turn his hand to anything, and gave a sound foundation on which to build Albert’s working life from. Working a regular job to support his family, it was only in later years that he carved out more time for his creative endeavours.
“Becoming self-sufficient takes the pressure off me and allows me to indulge my passion.
“For many years, my sculptures were a labour of love and not financially viable. I had a young family, and had to take any odd jobs that came along to keep afloat. I struggled to find outlets that would take my artwork and found the only way to really bring in money was to make pieces that were repetitive and affordable to most pockets. This was quite soul-destroying for me as an artist, and was not fulfilling my need to be creative.”
Over time, Albert joined forces with several galleries around East Anglia that took a number of pieces on display, which provided a good turnover of stock. Eventually, he found outlets with established artists where art was appreciated and valued. He explains that forward-planning and determination kept him going during the difficult times.
“When starting on a project, I have found that planning helps to foresee any problems or glitches that may occur, wasting valuable resources and time. This also stops the feeling of failure when things don’t turn out as expected. I have learnt over the years that life is not always generous and you have to fight for everything that you want to achieve. If it wasn’t for my determination, I would have probably given up long ago.
“I could have opted for the easy life, but I would not have had the sense of fulfilment and a life well lived.”
A legacy of love
“At your age” is a phrase that Albert hears often. But when it comes to doing what you love, this business owner is proof that there’s simply no need to retire from that.
“My idea of success is for my work to be recognised and appreciated by people who understand the skill, time and effort that has gone into it.
“Also for me, success is knowing that my work will go on long after I am gone. A fellow artist one told me ‘It’s better to have been a has-been than a never-was, but you’ll find it a long, hard furrow’. A little bit of sound philosophy from someone who knew.”
Today, it’s the subtle, simple moments that bring joy and remind Albert why he started his wood carving business, as well as those pivotal, celebratory moments too.
“When someone comes along and says they must have one of my pieces, or when I get a phone call from someone in America who bought one of my pieces many years ago and tell me it’s still their pride and joy… Then I know it’s all been worthwhile. The best part of my day is when I’ve finished work around 3 or 4pm, and I sit on my swing seat in my garden with a beer. I spend many hours here listening to the birds and bees, enjoying the flowers and the sound of water trickling into my pond.”
He considers what he would change if he could go back in time, explaining that mistakes make us who we are but if there was just one thing, it would be his involvement with technology at an earlier stage.
“I would have become more involved with technology and used it to my advantage earlier, if I had realised how important it would be in any business.
“With a comprehensive website, the sky is the limit. Building a website with 123 Reg is so simple and easy, anyone could do it. The 123 Reg Guides were very helpful. I liked the simplicity of the website builder tool, the instructions were straightforward and I cannot think of any improvement that could be made. It all worked perfectly for me. ”
This craftsman truly believes that anyone can start a business, so long as there is a demand for their commodity and they have planned ahead.
“Don’t be disheartened” he says, an encouraging example that it is possible to pursue what you love as the times change.
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