Welcome Aboard from St. Mary's Georgia
Welcome to the club. For what you are doing I think any wood would work. Your customers are more interested in your artwork rather than the board it is on. If you used a more exotic wood chances are it would just raise your cost and the public really wouldn't care. As far as finish I would recommend using lacquer. It's easy to work with, dries fast and durable for your needs. It is available in aerosol cans but it is a type called nitrocellulose lacquer which would yellow withing 5 years so would not be recommended for use on light colored woods. If you have a harbor freight near you, you could get a little smudgepot or sometimes called pancake compressor and a sprayer #97855 and a hose for around a hundred bucks that would work for small projects like that. Sometimes in the newspaper they offer coupons for 20% off any single purpchase which would help. Those little compressors are kinda noisy though but you could set the compressor outside. Then you could use a vinyl sanding sealer to prime the wood and topcoat it with a pre-catalyzed lacquer. Each dries to touch in about ten minutes in warm weather so you could use it outdoors if you had to without really worrying about getting dirt and bugs in the finish. The sealer after it dries would need to be sanded with 220 grit sandpaper to make the surface smooth before topcoating. Mohawk Finishing Products is a good supplier for the lacquer as well as Sherwin Williams.I discovered this form while searching the net for advice on wood finishes.
My hobby is pyrography. I burn plaques, Christmas ornaments and the like on premade, unfinished wood surfaces using a simple, single-temperature woodburning tool. I'm interested in expanding into more functional items to sell at craft shows. I'd like to learn a little more about the various woods and finishes available.
I live in Boston, Mass. and spend many weekends at our little cabin in Harmony, Maine, where I do most of my woodburning.