by Thomas Bedward August 03, 2020
Music and art have always been a channel for great emotions, capturing the hurt, pain, and tragedy that lies deep within an artist’s soul and allowing them to be released into the world. In the case of Taylor Tom Conley, his art and music haven’t just been a release, they’ve been a constant and enduring lifeline.
The founder of Designed Conviction, and a talented singer and songwriter in his own right, Taylor began writing poetry at the young age of fifteen after he was sent away to Tranquillity Bay in Jamaica, a hostile residential treatment facility affiliated with World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools. The centre of numerous allegations, including torture, unsanitary living conditions, unqualified employees, and denial of medical care, Tranquillity Bay took its toll on Taylor, and his poetry became his salvation. Inspired by his day-to-day turmoils, his words formed from the physical and emotional pain, anguish, and abuse he suffered, offering some relief from the hardships.
In 2001, Taylor made his way home to Longview, Washington, returning to small-town living with a far harsher outlook on life. As normality slipped away and relentless reality took hold, Taylor found himself entangled in a world of hard drugs, slipping into a downward spiral that would irrevocably shape his future. At the young age of twenty, Taylor was arrested and charged with aggregated murder in the first degree, the most severe criminal charge in the United States. Whether by luck or design, he narrowly avoided the death penalty and was instead sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
Convicted of a crime that he didn’t commit, Taylor was forced to readjust to a life behind bars, turning to his art and adapting his poems into music releases as a way to find something more. An effective release and a way to transcend the walls and fences that held him, music became his life, and he quickly found a unique sound that represented his own journey and style. The first song Taylor ever wrote was a country-infused ode to his wife, recorded in the prison studio and developed with the help of local musician Caleb Twidwell. It was an emotive triumph, and the motivation Taylor needed to truly focus on his music. From this solitary creative spark, Taylor was able to write and produce his most accomplished release to date, the evocative ‘So Cold’. A visceral and unyielding release that authentically reflects the raw feelings that come from spending a life in prison, ‘So Cold’ was brought to life earlier this year with Caleb’s help.
In time, Taylor was able to expand his horizons and aspirations, building upon the platform that his music gave him to create something truly special. A music platform, social enterprise, and inspiring cause, Designed Conviction was founded by Taylor in 2018 with one goal in mind, to break the stigma around incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals by promoting positive rehabilitation through art, media, and marketing design.
A unique platform, Designed Conviction currently operates two magazines, a podcast called ‘Life of a Lifer’, and YouTube channels, reaching an expansive audience through which they can deliver their positive messages and real-life stories. Together, Taylor Conley and Designed Conviction have been able to provide empowerment through promotion, enrichment for the disenfranchised, hope for the hopeless, and providing help for the helpless.
You can learn more about the services provided by Designed Conviction on their website, as well as learn about ways you can volunteer and help, and how you can have your story told.
Connect with Taylor Conley and Designed Conviction,