Among other things, these things will determine how much it will cost. First of all, tattoos (that are done professionally) are not cheap. Your tattoo will be an investment, it with be with you throughout your lifetime and (hopefully) will be something that you will always be proud of.
The most important thing to keep in mind is this: Cheap tattoos are not good & good tattoos are not cheap. People hunt for the cheapest price to often without realizing that it is usually poor quality or bad safety and health precautions.
The first thing on your mind when you are searching for a tattoo should be safety. Go to a professional shop with the proper licensing from the health department because the dollars you would save otherwise are not near the value that your health is.
Tattoo artists usually get a commission (which is a certain percentage of your payment).
Usually larger tattoos will be quoted at an hourly rate, while smaller tattoos will be quoted a flat price.
The best tattoo artists usually charge more than other tattoo shops in an area or city and are booked far in advance. In case you are seeking for an original custom-drawn tattoo you probably will be better off if you wait a little longer and pay more for one of these artists to ink you.
In case you are getting a smaller “standard” tattoo, you can count on a hourly price between eighty to a hundred and fifty dollars. Usually there is a minimum price for any tattoo, no matter what size. This takes into account the cost of equipment and the time spent on sterilizing and disinfecting. This minimum price can (depending on the artist) range anywhere from forty to a hundred dollars. Though young inexperienced artists usually ink you for a lower price, you might think about this twice, as many of them will not do the best work for the money.
In the long run it will be much more expensive (and not so pretty) when you have to get the tattoo removed or covered up.
The best thing to do is to call one or two studios in your neighbourhood and ask for their minimum price (usually the hourly rate will be about double).
Most tattoo artists will be able to suggest ways to simplify a tattoo while the basic idea remains the same in order to make it cost less. Let the artist know if you have a budget and see if he/she can work within it.
Keep in mind that you will still be looking at your tattoo 20 years from now, while you will forget what you have paid for it in ten.