So here you are, the eager for a great masterpiece on your skin is greater than the money on your pocket.
Now what? Get anything that fits the budget with the artist you like or get as much covered area as possible with the guy that started last year and charge low rates?
No that hard decision when considering the consequences: have a nice artwork or get a big area of your skin with a fucked-up tattoo for the rest of your life. And if there were a third option?
What I'm about to say doesn't apply to every so called artist, some are stupid enough to treat people different based on how much money they have. But it applies to decent people.
Very often we artists have some projects that aren't the every day business and due the lack of time or so what reasons, we don't offer openly on social media nor stamp on studio's walls. That's when you can be the lucky one. Please don't be like the junkies at tattoo conventions going from booth to booth asking if the guys need canvas. That way, if you are very lucky, maybe you end up with something nice for the judges and that's going to heal awfully. People are not canvas. Our job is to paint people, if we use pens, brushes, splattering, needles... it doesn't matter the technic, I'm talking about the treatment.
My suggestion for you, smart person in a temporary low income situation, is that you approach the artist that you like and explain the situation. Tell them that you like the work and that you would love to get an artwork from them but unfortunately you are running low on budget and maybe there is a project that they want to put together and if there's the case, you would like to know more about it and the possibilities to make it happen.
In the worst case scenario, the artist will be thankful for your appreciation for the work and recommend a colleague that have such project. In the best case, the chosen artist have a project he would make for low or zero budget and it is something you would really love to have done on your skin. Or you can project something in steps that fits your budget limitations.
Respect and kindness usually are a two way thing. If the person you approach with respect doesn't treat you with respect back, then probably you wouldn't like to have a tattoo from them even if you had the money.
Any questions? Just ask.