Do I need a gallery?


Dear Artist,

A common question is, “Do I need a gallery?” The simple answer is, “No.” Yesterday, Vancouver artist John Ferrie emailed his annual exhibition notice, announcing his latest body of work and explaining himself in his own words: “I have often been viewed as an art rebel, as I have very much side-stepped the gallery system. Often showing in obscure environments such as the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel or doing a huge installation for Vancity at their signature branch in Point Grey, I have discovered what works for me. People are more savvy these days — collectors find my work and deal with an artist directly. Doing this allows me to paint my own voice.”

Awesome Painting (2019) 30 x 48 inches Acrylic and KrINK on canvas by John Ferrie

Awesome (2019)
30 x 48 inches
Acrylic and KRink on canvas
by John Ferrie

John studied art and has been painting professionally and showing independently for decades. He lives in an arts-supportive live-work community where he can exhibit and be accessible to collectors. John is prolific and enjoys people. He also engages in his community, donates to worthwhile charities and is involved in outreach to arts organizations. Today, John’s method has spread globally, especially among artists missed by the gallery system. Online sharing platforms, email lists, artist’s websites, portals and alternative exhibition spaces have empowered artists to find supporters all over the world, while avoiding the gate-keeping, commissions, creative restrictions, exclusivity or curatorial control of the main model.

If partnering with a gallery still feels like the right fit for you, here’s what you should expect: Gallerists, whether new or seasoned, pleasant or edgy, traditional or striving, lackadaisical or hustling, all contribute to what we have come to believe as a verifying and validating curatorial system designed to nurture and support an artist’s creative and professional development over a lifetime. Ideally, they are physical houses for revering art, run by passionate people who invite all into a public exhibition space to experience a lovingly selected point of view — a collection of the work of mostly living, working artists, often from the local community. Be it global or village-scaled, a vital component of a commercial gallery is commerce. Dealers are business owners and must be speculators, and artists, like all other human beings, share life’s unavoidable economic concerns. Together, dealer and artist can learn, grow and blossom within the mutual support of a productive friendship.

Awesome 29 (2019) 40 x 40 inches Acrylic and KrINK on canvas by John Ferrie

Awesome 29 (2019)
40 x 40 inches
Acrylic and KRink on canvas
by John Ferrie



PS: “Actions are the seed of fate; deeds grow into destiny.” (Harry S. Truman)

Esoterica: Artists who show in galleries do not avoid the elbow grease of steady, quality production, creative development and the time-consuming synthesis of professional outreach and communication. There is no rest in artistic evolution and professional development, no matter your ultimate distribution model. In my early twenties, I checked in on a friend who worked as a sole-proprietor in business development, P.R. and non-profits, and asked, “How are you doing?” “I’m as busy as I want to be,” she said, with a wise resolve. “I can have as much work as how hard I want to work.” I never forgot her words.

John Ferrie in 2016Have you considered joining our Premium Artist Listings? Share your work with thousands of readers. 100% of your listing fee contributes to the production of The Painter’s Keys. Thanks for your friendship.

“Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.” (J. K. Rowling)



  1. Recently left a long-time gallery because discovered owner was selling some early work and not giving me money owed
    me. Spending thousands on attorney’s fees but will not stop until I get my work back or money owed me. Have recently shown twice with a small but very good gallery and also two group shows with a small private museum. I
    believe I am happier doing this then committing a lot of work with another single gallery. I will never give over to any
    gallery more than 4 works at a time. I’m not that committed to having to sell my work. My real pleasure and
    fulfillment is in creating the work and that’s what I want to concentrate on going forward.
    Please don’t let me discourage anyone with staying with one gallery. I just happened to have picked the wrong one,
    even though he did show very well known contemporary painters. And, unfortunately, I trusted him.

  2. I sell my own art. I use direct mail. I send out 100 illustrated handwritten snail mail reminders
    to my art people. I do this every week. I also sell 100 Dollar originals, good for new buyers.
    I have generic postcards that I carry at all times. I save emergency money. I have NO credit cards!!!!
    I live cheap but good. I market and brand myself nonstop. See my Tools 4 Artists- on Lori McNee’s
    Fine Art Tips.

  3. This is actually John Ferrie and I have to say, signing with that gallery was a complete and total nightmare. EVERYTHING required 3 hour meetings and endless discussions on everything from the food, gallery lay out, invitation lettering, social media and whether we should have a VIP preview night. As I was steer-heading interviews and trying to drum up some media response, the gallery owner did the square ROOT OF NOTHING. I hung the works myself and worked tirelessly to get he show ready. The opening was spectacular and 99% of the attendees were my clientele. Sadly, the gallery owner had been at an auction and saw a fluke sale on one of my paintings at an astronomical price and then decided this was the price point to work from. Everyone told me they loved the works, they all said the price point was absurd. Social media was ZERO, the gallery was closed for 3 days after the opening. Follow up was zero, sales were ZERO! They then took down 1/2 of my show to put up the works of other artists as apparently they had ‘garnered more interest”. They also signed another artist to the gallery who hates me after they had promised me they never would. Piece by piece I was asked to remove my paintings from the gallery as they didn’t have room. Within two weeks of my show closing, they had not sold one single piece of my work. They sold nothing. Two weeks later, I was fired from the gallery I had been with for less than 3 months. The entire experience was humiliating. The gallery has since closed. I have had 8 independent exhibitions since then and I feel I am back on my game. Galleries are the shits…just the shits.

Leave A Reply

Featured Workshop

Visual Abstraction…Translating Everyday Images Into Stunning Abstract Designs
September 23, 2019 to September 27, 2019


Never be without a design from which to create an abstract painting. Taking images you see on your daily walk, while shopping or in your home… dissecting them into shapes and value to produce abstract paintings that sell.


Held at Gwen Fox’s private Art Sanctuary in Taos, New Mexico.  Her 100-year-old adobe home is the perfect environment to inspire and renew your creativity.


There will be private critiques that empower, glorious breakthroughs while basking in a safe environment in which to grow as an artist.


This workshop will fill fast.  Limited to 10 artists.  Each artist will have their own table. Through
oil 12 x 16 inches

Featured Artist

Capturing the beauty of nature and expressing those impressions in oil paint is a joy. Every hour of the day presents new possibilities and keeps even the same landscape location, same composition, an ongoing and beckoning challenge. For this reason, I love painting series: it is exploration made visual.