Thursday Salute to Originals: Delicate Prison Illustrations

Prison, art, and ostrich eggs. A strange combination to say the least. One a criminal reformatory, the other touted as high-end visual culture, and the next a very hearty – albeit unusual – breakfast, it seems these have nothing in common. Unless inmate-turned-artist, Gil Batle, is involved, of course; then it makes total sense!


After spending over two decades behind bars for fraud and forgery, Gil Batle saw and learned a lot as an inmate. Picking up tattooing while in prison, he discovered his penchant for art and used that skill to evade gang violence during his sentence. Now, after being released, he has honed his artistic ability and has transformed his roots in prison tattooing into delicate relief carvings…..on ostrich eggs of all things.



In looking at these egg carvings, we can’t decide what is most amazing. Is it the fact that Batle’s skills were completely self-taught, without any formal training? Or that these intricate and complex carvings are whittled from such a delicate and unconventional medium? Or the notion that such beautiful and refined visuals can arise from the violence of daily prison life? We’re not sure. But what we do know is that the combination of all these seemingly unrelated components make the story behind Batle’s creations just as (and perhaps even more) interesting as the artworks themselves.


For merging three completely distinct elements, we salute Batle and his unorthodox form of artistic expression. Where others walked on eggshells, Batle transformed his abilities into a clever method of self-preservation, yielding an art form that we can all admire.

Image credits: Design Boom