Signaller Stuart Burns has always loved typography: the art of presenting text in a way that can elicit emotions through the creative use of fonts, styles, and layouts.

As an experienced graphic designer with a Diploma in Visual Communication, he dabbled in a range of techniques, including game art and 3D modelling, before joining the Army two years ago.

It was after enlisting that he sustained a serious knee injury during a soccer game.

After a year of medical treatment, his career future is uncertain, and he is receiving support at the Trainee Rehabilitation Wing at Holsworthy Barracks.

It was there his corporal suggested he attend the 2020 ARRTS program as it presented a good opportunity to focus on what he loved doing and would provide new creative directions.

ARRTS is the Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork and Skills program, which since 2015 has been successfully facilitating the healing of ADF and emergency services personnel facing health and wellbeing challenges.

Held at the University of Canberra’s Inspire Centre, the four-week residential program offers three creative streams: music/rhythm, visual arts, and creative writing.

A music lover, Signaller Burns had trouble deciding whether to join the music or visual arts stream, but found an innovative way to combine them.

“I decided to focus on typography and designs that reflected my love of music,” he said.

“I’d also spent six months in Japan and was inspired by the temples, shrines, and mountain ranges and wanted to feature these in my art too.”

Once Signaller Burns had decided on his themes, he set to work at a vigorous pace.

“I found I could take my mind off my injury and focus on another part of my life and express what’s inside, and that really helped,” he said.

“Plus, with the mentors always being so approachable and helpful, I was never afraid of failing.”

I found I could take my mind off my injury and focus on another part of my life and express what’s inside, and that really helped.

In this environment, Signaller Burns decided to use the first three letters of his name  ­̶  S, T and U  ­̶  as the foundation for his art.

“All the letter S elements, apart from the outline, were hand-drawn with pencil, pen, and markers, then digitally composited, while the rock-and-roll symbol was done in lino print, where I cut it out of a sheet of linoleum and printed it," he said.

A similar range of techniques was used for the other two letters.

All the works were on display in the visual arts studio for showcase night on November 26, and Signaller Burns’ father drove up from Jindabyne to view his son’s work.

“It was quite incredible what they were able to put together in such a short space of time,” Mr Burns said.

And for Signaller Burns, the effort has been worthwhile.

“While it was hard work to create something so quickly, and presented several challenges, I’ve now learned techniques that I’ll keep using and I’m really glad I did the program.”

The next AARTS program will run from May 9 to June 4 next year. 

To find out more, email adf.arrts [at] or visit