I think you need to make a lot more cakes for your gallery, you might consider getting some dummy cakes and making up a big batch of frosting and just going at it. And you really don't want to keep presenting them on kitchen foil covered boards.
While I didn't get to read whatever it was you wrote about expensive bakers, please bear in mind that when you work for free, clients expect other bakers to do the same. At $80 for a 6/8 tiered cake, assuming it wasn't decorated with anything more than a basic design, you may have just barely made minimum wage after paying all of your expenses, but you definitely didn't make a profit. If your market doesn't allow for custom cake pricing, then it shouldn't be getting custom cakes.