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Depending on the artist I'd say about $150 an hour is the average rate. And budget about 7 hours give or take. I have a half sleeve of Rose's and skulls. It took near 8 hours and was $150 an hour. Also if you pay cash they dont charge you tax.
I'm a welder personally and mine is a few months old and is still in decent condition. Any very small cuts won't show, however if they're slightly deeper or larger there will be a hole or a line through your tattoo. Also to help keep it looking pristine, use lotion often, sunscreen very often in sunlight and cover it if possible. Also if your thigh is rubbed up against stuff a fair amount that can also cause wear.