I started this summer off right by selling some cleverly framed fish at a repeat tourist friendly venue, then hanging my best framed abstracts and plantscapes at an amazing high volume venue in a convention center. People, you can find places to show your work, almost anywhere. Marketing yourself is not that hard for someone with reasonable motivation and intelligence. Mostly, just love what you do, and feel comfortable talking about it.
I next got a favor which I honestly asked for when even suggested. When you get to a point of good skill + tons of work it pays to be shameless, and ask everyone you trust who has connections or ever said they would help you to go ahead and help you. You have a ton of art at this point to barter for the favor anyways, and if you are good and seriously motivated they look at you like a young race horse ready to win, seriously. So my favor got me my first out of state show near NY, which looks great and sounds great, and IS great! In Seattle we have not nearly the amount of healthy profitable galleries as big cities like NY and LA, so out of state builds a resume nice. This show is getting only my very best smaller framed fish work, along with a nicely framed large centerpiece.
Next I utilized some social media to promote myself and mostly just new works. Facebook and most social media if used right can sell work. I got off my stubborness and made an artist page and an instagram account, these make perfect sense. Hashtag yourcity+art(ist) and all the styles you think are strong, and it can get you shows or patrons. Always only post/upload your best work, photo'd and cropped correctly with your watermark on it. Be consistent and steady, respond to comments, mention pieces are available, or where to view them. I am planning to create a gloriously slick and polished, yet simple website that will replace my current one, which a friend asked to do, and will trade for art since as he said "you dont have time, you should be painting" and he is 100% correct.
I am getting serious repeat patronage and repeat shows. The shows aka venues are people who like my work, you show for them enough and they see you evolve, and then they buy your work, possibly lots of work. These people own the venue, they can afford your work (if you dont ask gallery prices for normal patrons). Ive learned to price my better to best work reasonable but not cheap, but not insanely high. I have intentionally affordable (overly clever with cheap supplies and less time input) work and better oil paintings with polish, time and more intention spent. I frame my best work, but work in more standard sizes so i can swap out frames if a customer doesn't like it or wants a different one. Framing what you think is your best work (especially abstract) can be like a new high for you. For me at times it's like taking something gorgeous and adding SEXY! And if someone agrees with your idea of sexy it can make the right piece worth a month's rent.
Ive gotten very good at creating bios with special tailored text for the specific show, the art, venue and the neighborhood am i showing in. I always frame my bio, and have business card holder built in with all my social media info and a QR code for my website. For my highest end stuff I plan on having a QR code for online info for every single piece. When you are asking more than 500 for a piece it should look like you are working for it.
Do not ever forget the people who have acquired your work, and esp the ones who are collecting it. Ask if they'd like you to visit with a trunkload of new work that you think will look nice with what you know they already got. Or if they'd like a private visit to your gallery for some wine and cheese, or buy them a drink at a brewpub where your work is up, coffeeshop, etc.
Work what you got, and work it more the more you love it. And finally:
USE YOUR ART TO GET YOU WHERE YOU WANT TO BE.
As always, I love and respect you all for what you do. In many ways I create so I can be seen amoungst other creators, and that's you!