SHOP TALK Partner Website


Admit it, you have an inquiring mind, and you want to know about the team building your Sun Valley dream home. We understand the inclination. So we decided to bring you ShopTalk, conversations with the talented pros designing, building, and outfitting your homes.


Troy Larsen
Windy City Arts Custom Signs & Graphic Design

For 14 years, Troy Larsen has owned Windy City Arts, Custom Signs & Graphic Design in the Wood River Valley, but its signs can be found around the U.S. and the world. It is a sign company that specializes in metal, wood, acrylic, and full-color print films for a wide selection of sign needs, and the design and fabrication of metal signs has become a specialty.

In addition to a broad selection of signs and graphic design, Windy City Arts creates address markers and identification signs. Services include complete sign package from design to installation.


“We enjoy Making CLIENTS’ visions and dreams a reality through design and inspiring final products.” – Troy Larsen, Windy City Arts, Custom Signs & Graphic Design

What inspires you?
Helping others achieve their vision inspires us. Our desire is to give our clients, and in return receive, reward for what was given, not what can be taken.

What projects are you most excited about right now?
The signs that get the most recognition; they are becoming icons. These include: house numbers throughout the Valley, The Valley Club, Enoteca, Elkhorn entry signs, Elkhorn Village signs (The Bluff, Fairway Nine, Sunburst, Elkhorn Village, Sagehill, Arrowwood, and more), Knob Hill Ridge, The Springs, Community School, Ketchum Burritos in Hailey, Campion Ice House, Ketchum Town Square, Hailey Rodeo Grounds, Wood River Inn, and projects now being installed like new site signs for Starweather and Swiftsure Ranch. There are many more, but these are a few.

Describe your process. How do you work with clients, contractors, designers, and architects?
We have developed a process we call “Signs Made Easy” that we use in working with all our relationships. It includes consultation/direction; design/creation; production/fabrication; and install/completion.

What other specialties do you have in-house?

Windy City Arts offers large format printing. We do a variety of full-color printing on films for signs, vehicle graphics, and other applications that are high UV-rated and weatherproof. Many of our printing products are found in interior designs, such as canvas prints, adhesive wall prints, printed and plot-cut etched glass film, and window tint and covers.

What projects make you the most proud?

The Elkhorn entry signs and the first full-wrapped gondola in the United States on the Sun Valley gondola in conjunction with the Ketchum Arts Commission.

Do you have favorite products you prefer or are known for?

We are noted for steel and aluminum cut letters and sign faces that are colored with patina and specialty coatings and our internally lit signs that use state-of-the-art LED lighting and our patented light shields and sign frames.

What words do people use to describe your work?

Amazing, incredible, wow, timeless, perfect, architectural, one-of–a-kind, and outstanding, and others just ask how?

What do you enjoy most about your line of work?

Making clients’ visions and dreams a reality through design and inspiring final products.

How did you get your start?

Our good friends Mike and Corolla Hendricks invited us to visit the Sun Valley area during a time of transition from Salt Lake City 15 years ago, and we met the original founder of Windy City Arts, Mike Foley.

What places in the world do you find most inspirational and why?

We enjoy the Western United States for its open, big spaces. Specifically, the high desert is amazing when studied. What may appear to be undesirable to one eye from a distance is loaded with beauty to another eye when explored in detail up close.

What is sure to make you laugh?

Brian Regan is a favorite comedian, along with Michael Jr.

What’s on the top of your list as a great getaway?

Cabo Pulmo, Mexico.

What is the last book you read that you would highly recommend and why?

Turn the Ship Around by L. David Marquet. It’s a great perspective on how to turn followers into leaders. This book resonates with our style of leadership and style of
business model.

Do you have a favorite sport or recreational activity, and what do you enjoy about it?

Road and mountain biking. What a great way to let the wind wash away the stress of the day and explore new and favorite places in our amazing Sun Valley.


Paul Hixson & Jarron Pew

At the core of Helius is a love of innovative and creative architecture. As a result, the firm continually seeks long-term relationships with architects who want to deliver remarkable environments. Through thoughtful design, superior documentation, and close collaboration, Helius endeavors to save great architectural projects from the effects of poor lighting. Helius professionals are passionate about the way light affects our built environment and use that passion to elevate the result of each project.


“The HELIUS design process encourages collaboration with all design team members and educates the client about what the design will achieve. ” –Jarron Pew, Helius Lighting Group

What services do you offer?

Lighting Design, Lighting Control Design, Motorized Shade Design, Audio Video Design, and Electrical Design.

What geographic areas do you serve?

We have designed projects all over the United States with a limited amount of international exposure. Most of our work is concentrated in the resort towns of the Intermountain West.

Do you have any special certifications or specialties?

We have two Lighting Certified designers on staff, Paul Hixson and Jarron Pew. Becoming an LC requires that we pass a stringent exam prepared by the NCQLP (National Council on Qualifications for the Lighting Professions, and that we perform 36 hours of continuing education in lighting practices every three years to renew our license.

What is your professional and educational background?

Our firm has a varied background. Most of us have degrees of one type or another but found our life as lighting designers in different ways. If you are responsive to the bite of the lighting bug it motivates you to dig in and learn everything you can. The education that leads to success is one of individual study, diving into a wealth of industry training, and providing solutions.

What inspires you?

We love architecture. Every project is a new opportunity to make a meaningful impact on our living experiences through the medium of light. Participating in that process motivates us. Seeing the results and hearing our clients’ reactions is gratifying.

How do you see lighting design changing in the next five to ten years?

Ongoing improvement in LED products for the foreseeable future. The way we control and interact with lighting may change substantially. Control systems will become more user-friendly and easier to set up while providing more flexibility. In some applications, lighting may simply become a part of our networks. Several manufacturers are already working in that direction.

What projects are you most excited about right now? What technologies?

We have enjoyed the recent changes in architecture. There seems to be more honesty reflected in the finishes with less cover-up required to make a structure beautiful. This has created some challenges from a lighting perspective but has also led to some creative solutions. Technology is continually evolving in our industry from basic product selection and performance improvements to the way we design. We are excited about the modeling capabilities software is making possible. We don’t think it will be too long before we ask a client to put on their virtual reality goggles to review their lighting plan. Lighting is hard to visualize for many people so being able to walk them through the project before the footings are in place and have them embrace a lighting plan is an exciting development.

Describe your process—how do you work with clients, contractors, and architects?

Our design process is similar to a full- service architectural firm. Preliminary client interviews and descriptive narratives set the tone for a Schematic Design Set. This set is used to coordinate the early concepts to determine the direction of design. Following review of this set with the design team we create the Design Development Set. This set is reviewed for both design and budget direction. With the feedback from this set we then create a Construction Document Set. This set enables installing contractors to order material and execute. The HELIUS design process encourages collaboration with all design team members and educates the client about what the design will achieve. Once the Construction Document Set is issued the client can move on to other elements of their project knowing that the lighting has been thoughtfully qualified.

What makes the difference between good design and great design?

Leadership to communicate the vision and ensure the design team works together. Time for thoughtful development. Budgets to execute design concepts. An open collaborative environment that fosters creativity and meaningful results.

How did you get your start?

Paul started the firm following a slowdown at the firm for which he worked. Some previous clients who had new projects reached out to Paul because of his great work. Their invitation to participate was the spark for the firm’s beginning.

What do you listen to while you work?

Our office is varied on what is being listened to at any one given time. Most of the time headphones are in play. From today’s typical hits, jamming to some ’80’s tunes, mellowing to a classical piece, or being inspired by “Hamilton”, the selections are pretty eclectic.

What places in the world do you find most inspirational?

Every trip we’ve taken to the larger cities of our country have provided different kinds of inspiration. The opportunities for great architecture to make an impact seem to come alive in those metropolitan areas.

What’s on the top of your list as a great getaway?
Three of us have been to Hawaii and it’s clear that’s tough to top. For those of us who haven’t been yet I think it tops the list of goals.

Favorite season?

We find fall pretty magical. The colors change, temperatures are moderate, and as a lighting designer we can do field mock-ups or aim lighting on finished products earlier in the evening!

What do you enjoy most about living and working where you do?

Jarron: Golfing, skiing, hiking, great people, and being centrally located in the intermountain West. Utah is pretty tough to beat. Paul: Four seasons and a great place for our family. Endless outdoor recreation and always a few weeds to pull.

Last book you read that you would highly recommend and why?

Jarron: A Man Called Ove. A great story that encourages you to become more and to appreciate your relationships.

Paul: Killing Patton. Enjoyed learning things about WWII and its history that are not common knowledge.