Back in the beginning in the mid 90s, commercialization was NOT part of the original concept. It was strictly a recreational/educational thing. However, it wasn't long before the work got better and some of us started selling a few. It was at this point that some of the members wanted to use the “Neo-Tribal Metalsmiths” name as a marketing and promotional platform. I was against the idea from the get go. However, at that time as a local organization, we voted on things like this. Of course, I was out numbered and I've always wished it hadn't been so. However, I understood where the others were coming from and agreed to go along with it. So, a market was created for the type of work we were doing through the original group and all the politics, power plays, head trips, egos etc., came into play.
... I remember the exact words, “Tai, you don’t need to use it as a marketing platform. You’re already famous,… we aren't.
It is what it is today, to a large extent because of this shift to commercialization. I would have been happier to see it stay simply recreational/educational, as a base and source of personal inspiration for independent metalsmiths, craftsmen and artists. To me, it was always more about the individual person than the name we used for the group. At this point, anyone can use the name in marketing their work, good or bad, as long as it "looks" neo-tribal (whatever that's supposed to mean)... which in my opinion has diminished the original concept and to some degree the authenticity, innovation, individuality and sincerity of the work.
As the founder (also holding the highest standing official rank as, "N-T Universal Blademaster"), I failed to foresee the inevitable... and let myself get sucked in.
It was never meant to be about conformity to an "aesthetic genre" or "stylized",... in fact, just the opposite. It was meant to encourage and inspire individuality and innovation.
... Let's get this "art movement" back on track!
(For those who choose to see it as an "aesthetic genre" or "style", I think it’s fine,… as long as it’s personal, sincere, doesn't stagnate and leaves room for those who interpret it differently and/or may be coming from more of a contemporary fine arts background.)