The biggest mistake people make is assuming that all tatoo artists are equally skilled. This is like assuming that every person is a Rembrandt or a Michael Angelo. Tatoo artists, like any other artists, have varying levels of skill and talent.
To ensure that you like the artists work you should ask to see a portfolio. A good portfolio should contain photos of various tatoos on different body parts including close up shots. Examine this work to be sure that you are comfortable with the artists style.
Your tatoo artist should show you the final design before beginning the tatoo.
A good tatoo shop should have a wide variety of designs to choose from. Many artists will also design custom tatoos according to what you want, within reason. If you do not like the designs that are available, talk to your artist about other options.