According to LovetoKnow, cowboy-hat tattoos can be a tribute to a loved one, a symbol of a desire for the freedom of the Wild West, or an outlaw symbol. Famous cowboys are also popular tattoos because they inspire and leave impressions on people.
Cowboys are traditionally loved for their strength, independence, love of life and honesty. Many people have older or deceased relatives that lived in the Wild West and memorialize them with a cowboy-hat tattoo. Some people who yearn for the spirit of the Wild West get tattoos of cowboy hats or boots so they never have to "take them off."