When looking to make a permanent change to your body, looking for the lowest bidder is pretty much always a bad idea.
Look for an artist who has experience. Who has a good portfolio. Who is willing to work with you to give you the bast tattoo possible with the idea you want realized... Not somebody who can beat any price...
The first girl who came in wanted some song lyrics, but she wasn't sure where to get them- on her ribs or under a tattoo on the right hand side of her back. I talked with her about the ways we could approach either spot, and typed up 2 different versions- the one for her back was justified to the left, so that it would form a straight line along the line of her spine, and have a soft curvy edge along the line of her ribs/hip. The other version was center justified, to flow more nicely on her ribcage... She loved it and decided to go with the words on her ribs.
19 words, total.
60 point Edwardian Script.
I gave her a damn good price for the amount of work that would be going into this tattoo... $220.
She said there was no way she would pay that much- the last guy she talked to said he'd do it for $100.
I didn't even have to say anything at that point. One of the other artists working said to her, "oooh, you want to be careful with that... There's a reason they're only charging that much- and it's not because they want you to get a great deal..."
Didn't matter to her. She wasn't interested in a great tattoo, just a cheap one.
Very shortly after she left another woman came in. She had a pretty crummy tattoo of a butterfly on her ankle, and wanted a quote on fixing it up. I looked it over and saw that basically I would just be doing a new butterfly over one that was already sort of half assedly there, and again gave a more than fair price- $100.
"OK, thanks. I have a friend who will do it for $35, I just wanted to see if you could do better than that."
Oh man, was I steamed. I just said "well, good luck with that" and turned away. I mean, the shop minimum is $60 just to open a needle, and she thought I was going to beat $35? Really?
As she was leaving she said, "I only paid $20 for the tattoo in the first place. I guess that's why it needs to be fixed now. You get what you pay for, I guess."
Really? Did she really just say that, as she wandered off to get a $35 fix up?