There are a few tride and true basics that can help you establish your presence as an artist who is serious about their work.
1. Presentation - How do you present yourself to the world when you cannot do it in person? This is where your website, business cards, portfolio, bio, twitter, facebook, and previous patrons enter the picture. All of these and more make up the presence of yourself and your work when you are not there to represent yourself. You cannot be everywhere at once, and you never know where someone might hear about you and your work. Put your best foot forward and make sure you've established these basics so that you have yourself covered. More to come on presentation in another post. Don't discount the importance of this---I can't tell you how many times I've heard about artists that do not have business cards to share, or the materials they are handing out are poorly made.
2. Create New Work - Always create new work, even if it is just for yourself to expand your creativity and your expression of the world. As an artist it is important to constantly evolve to keep your work fresh and to expand your portfolio. This will freshen your portfolio (presentation), breathe excitement into your passion for your craft (valuing your art), and give you the opportunity to intelligently discuss your current direction as an artist (presentation and networking). Most importantly, the world needs art and creating it is your contribution to improving the world around you.
3. Valuing Your Art - This has less to do with pricing your work as it does how you conduct yourself and the respect you give your finished pieces. If you believe in your work then find an avenue to show/exhibit your work. Make sure you treat the art with the utmost respect. Finish the sides of your paintings, present your photographs in an interesting and well designed way, use quality materials, and go big or go home. What I mean by that is, if you are submitting your work for review make sure you follow all of the instructions to the letter. If two artists each submit pieces for a juried show, and one has followed the submission instructions to the letter and the other artist drops their work off and it isn't even ready-to-hang in a gallery... well the latter says that you don't value your work, whether that was the message intended or not. Your work should be professional, take well lit photos, and create quailty. Your work is the culmination of your creative energy, hardwork, and time, value it appropriately.
4. Network with Artists - Get to know other artists. It is important to belong to a community of creative people. You may have experiences and knowledge that can contribute to an improved experience of others within that community. You might also benefit from their expertise as well. There is power in numbers which means a community may mean additional exhibit opportunities with increased exposure through the group's combined connections. But most importantly, you'll form amazing friendships. I've met amazing artists through joining local groups and attending workshops out of town. You never know where you might meet another creative like-minded individual who will become a great friend. Without friends to share it with, life is pretty dull. Friendships enrich our experience and widen our perspective on the world.
5. Give Back - Charity is important to the global community as well as our creative energy. Find a cause that is important to you and use your creative energy and talents to give back. You'll want to do your research to make sure that you are contributing to a legitimate cause. This tip isn't directly related but is one of the most important. Part of establishing your identity as an artist is knowing what you stand for and feeling confident in that knowledge. Whether it is helping someone who is local, rescuing animals, or a specific charity, giving back is a positive way to use your talent to help improve the lives of others and to create a better world for everyone.
"Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value." -Albert Einstein
Be authentic. From a personal standpoint my biggest belief in life is that it is most important to be authentic to who you are and to live an authentic life. The real person behind the artist is always more interesting than a manufactured identity. Share your work and be inventive!