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This Is Northern New South Wales

Artist Profile – Dead End Design

Tessa 2Rose Wadsworth is the name of the talented young woman behind the macabre brand of artwork known as Dead End Design, based in the hinterland just south of Byron Bay, NSW. Rose has been working super hard since forming her brand in 2013, combining her love of traditional tattoo culture, horror and classic punk rock to bring fans a brand of art and design work with a very distinct passion and style, growing her portfolio from modest beginnings to now regularly working with names like Columbus – Brisbane up-and-comers in the punk world – and strongly supporting local music figures such as Nedlands studio in South Lismore.
Earlier in the year, Rose released the first issue of her feminist zine “All Grrrl Assault”, the first run selling out in a short time with all proceeds being donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. A passionate feminist in the traditionally male dominated music industry, Rose is using her reach as both a member of multiple Punk Rock bands and a visual artist with a fan following to bring to public attention the multitude of talented and capable women in Punk and Hardcore, for the benefit of a well deserving cause. She is currently working on a follow-up issue of this Zine due to be released shortly, so we spent a few moments to dig a little deeper into what motivates her to work so hard for the things she believes in.

When did you start identifying as a feminist?

I’ve always felt a strong sense of female empowerment- even in school I wanted to prove I could do everything boys could do, if not even better. I hated that gender was so set in stone and defined, and that it ruled so many things, and that it still does. I grew up in a society that taught us that ‘feminism’ was a dirty word, and that feminists were undesirable extremists. So even though my views and the thoughts in my head were the same as feminism expressed, I was also conditioned to believe that these ideals were wrong. Even when my Year 8 Music teacher talked me out of taking Elective Music in further years, because he didn’t have time for a girl guitarist and had ‘real’ musicians to focus on- I kept those thoughts internalised, as many young girls and women do.
It was only a couple of years ago that I really began identifying as a feminist. I became aware of how important my beliefs and that of feminism were, and how unimportant people’s opinions of me weren’t. People who still think feminism is unnecessary, whine about “not all men” or try to flip every situation to be for the perspective of a white male, are not people I want to be around.

How has the response been to your zine so far?

The response to the first issue of ALL GRRRL ASSAULT was amazing! I had a deadline to work with as I launched the zine at a showcase I did with RAW: Brisbane back in January. In the lead up to this I posted portraits from the zine as I completed them. The response to this alone was massive- the girls featured were sharing around the artwork and bringing even more of an audience to my little project. Brody Dalle of The Distillers even retweeted a promo for it- which doesn’t seem like that much to many people, but she is one of my all time heroes, so to know she had seen my work/my drawing of her, really gave me a rush!
Once I released the zine to my online store, the first run of 50 sold out within a week or two. Following that I did two more runs of 25 copies each, all of which have now sold out. I sold a total 100 copies- raising $500 for the National Breast Cancer Foundation of Australia (all proceeds except for the cost of postage went straight to this charity). It was an amazing feeling not only for the money raised, but to know that people wanted to celebrate women in male dominated music scenes, and that girls were lifting each other up instead of tearing others down.

Do you feel you’re helping make headway in bringing about more equality in the music industry, specifically the punk and hardcore genres, on a local and/or more widespread level?

I am amazed and humbled by the support and positive feedback from the first issue of ALL GRRRL ASSAULT. And while I think that this zine helps to celebrate women in these scenes/playing this kind of music, a lot more needs to be done and brought to attention than just the efforts of my little drawing project. But small changes can have a ripple effect, and by creating a dialogue on women in music (particularly women involved in punk/hardcore), it is bringing more attention to the masculine nature and saturation of these scenes. Not to say masculinity is a bad thing- but when it doesn’t leave any room for feminism or women, then it only brings negativity.

Who has been the most inspiring female musician you’ve come into contact with since starting the zine?

The best things about doing this zine are all the amazing women I have come into contact with, and the realisation that there is a definite strong female presence in the punk/hardcore scene. Honestly it’d be hard to pick only one person as the most inspiring- because they all are! But there are a couple of definite standouts. Jelena Goluza of Outright for the strong messages in her lyrics and the love and positivity she spreads while remaining a force to be reckoned with, Kayla Phillips from Bleed the Pigs for her unrelenting views on feminism for women of colour (as a lot of mainstream feminism gets caught up in white privilege) and Lauren Confos of Fuck the System DIY for relentlessly supporting me in all aspects of my creative outlets, and all the good she does for her community.

Do you have plans to continue these zines into the future?

As I mentioned earlier, I am adding more women to the list every week, so there will definitely be a few issues of this zine! I am currently finishing up the second issue, and after a short break to work on some personal projects, I will be back to start the third! I want to keep spreading positivity and female empowerment for as long as I can handle drawing these tedious portraits (I love stippling but anyone who has dabbled in it will know how crazy all those dots can drive you). Also I want to help out a different charity or organisation with each issue, and there are so many worthy causes around I want to help out as much as possible!
Tell us a little about the music acts you’re involved in –

My first band- The Snatchettes- is actually gearing up to release our EP and also play our last show. This band has been incredibly important to me, as it was the first musical project I was properly involved in. I always thought I wasn’t good enough to play music with other people, let alone in FRONT of other people. This band showed me that it didn’t matter what my skill level as a guitarist was, and that I could still write songs and perform. It gave me my first experiences in music- rehearsing, playing shows, booking shows, printing merch, recording, etc. We have been around since late 2012 and are due to play our last shows towards the end of 2015.
I’ve been playing bass for Selfish Act for about a year; the band was already active, I originally just joined to fill in but ended up recording and playing with them a lot. We also played our last show in July 2015 supporting Dangers, which was probably the best and biggest show I’ve ever played on.
As both of those bands have come or are coming to a close, I’m focusing all my energy into one project, one where I am pushing myself to try vocals and stop hiding behind a guitar. This new band is called Masochist, we’re still in the process of writing and recording our demo, but we’re hoping to have it out and have played our first show by the end of 2015. Keep an ear out for us.

Who are your idols or women you look up to in the music and arts industries respectively and in which ways do they inspire you?

As I mentioned earlier, all the women I’ve been in contact with about ALL GRRRL ASSAULT have been incredibly inspiring and I look up to each and every one of them. I’m not a massive fan of the word ‘idol’, but I guess two major influences on me throughout my life have been Brody Dalle of the Distillers and Joan Jett. Both are highly successful, prominent women in the music industry, and both made it there by challenging societal values of how women in music should be. The reason I picked up a guitar was because I wanted to be like these women; I wanted to be strong, loud and screaming my head off about things that were important and that I cared about. I wanted to upset the boys club that the music industry has become.
In terms of visual arts, there are so many artists who inspire me on so many different levels that there is no way I could try to list them all or even a few of them. I respect and admire artists who work hard, who push themselves and boundaries and try to create something that is fresh and means something and isn’t there to please the masses or make money.

What words of advice can you offer to young women in creative fields who are pushing against the flow and fighting for equality, to help overcome these challenges?

I have one very simple piece of advice- work hard and don’t give up. There will always be people who don’t like or agree with what you do.

Lastly, what have you got lined up for the rest of the year?

The second issue of ALL GRRRL ASSAULT will be released and work will have begun on the third by the end of 2015. I’m constantly doing commission work for bands, friends and businesses in between, so depending on how hectic my schedule gets (on top of working a full time day job), I’d also like to work on some personal art projects that have been on the backburner for months, update and expand the products in my online store ( and try to get my work into some exhibitions/art spaces. I just want to work hard and create as much as possible!

If you want a copy of this awesome soon to be released Zine, and love what Dead End Design has to offer, head over to or and keep up to date with this great cause and talented human being.

Story By David Andreas

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