What’s in a Name?

1986 (basement suite)

The name Backstreet was chosen because the first office was a large basement situated in a downtown Edmonton photo reproduction business. The entrance to the office was through a back alley doorway that led down to our windowless workspace.

Founded in the spring of 1986 by two Grant MacEwan college students, Jon Semchuk and George Molina, Backstreet seemed to be a better alternative than working for someone else. From that first location we worked with some of our first clients: Grant MacEwan College, City of Edmonton, the Alberta Government, and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.

In the old days…

Back in those days – a mere 25 years ago – design began and finished on a drafting table. Every idea began with a thumbnail sketch on paper. We would lay the text, pictures, lines and gradients in by hand. Color was added through a series of overlays and acetate sheets. The process was painstaking and the results were just as striking as today’s technology which allows us to design almost anything we can imagine.

Move One – 1989 (Centre 104)

As much as we loved our downtown basement, we had no control over the development of downtown Edmonton. As progress would have it, after only a couple years at our first location, the entire block was scheduled to be demolished to make way for Commerce Place. Our next place was in Centre 104 on the southside of the city.

Move Two – 1992 (8416 104 street)


With each passing year, our successes allowed us to bring together more people. In 1992, it was our staff size that forced us to move again. We relocated our operation to an old house just off Whyte Ave at 8416 – 104 street. This house was an original in the area, dating back to 1912. It was small, but it shined up nicely.

After some major renovations and lots of sweat equity, this new office became our home for the next five years: 1992 – 1997. At this point we had a staff of 4 and one new addition – a NeXt Computer.

Enter the Computer

The NeXt Computer was state-of-the-art at that time. In those early days, software for the NeXt languored and Apple soon took over as the designer’s platform. Today, Apple’s computers and platforms are at the heart of the design world.

Move Three – 1997 (10443 85 ave)

When our next location went up for sale in the spring of 1997, we jumped at it. One the key features, other than its historical charm and character, was the location – half a block straight west of the house we were currently occupying.

A historic 2 ¼ storey brick character home built by John Jackson in 1908. We worked hard to restore and maintain its original character. Its laid back atmosphere and location in Edmonton’s historical Old Strathcona contributed to our creativity. With the Jackson House we handled some fantastic projects for clients such as the University of Alberta, the Edmonton Oilers and Pure Design to name a few.

Enter the Internet

Through the mid 1990’s the Internet took off and we began to see our clients request the design of their websites. Understanding that websites are more than just online brochures we scoured the earth to find some expertise in the area. By the early 2000’s we were employing three skilled developers, and coupled with senior designers we began to put out some top notch websites.

Move Four – 2006 (12225 105 ave)

After nine years in the Jackson House, it was time for a change. After some searching and some serious renovating, we moved into our current location at 12225 105 ave. With the entire studio now on one level and a bright, open floor space, we now have a creative and energetic working atmosphere.

Our drafting tables, acetate sheets and drawing boards were finally out of the way as our new space has all the current technologies needed to work in a modern design field. imacs, mac books, wireless internet and a top-of-the-line printer makes our work flow efficient and effective.

So 25 years later we are still producing cutting edge design. Nothing has ever been cookie cutter design here. That’s something we are proud off. We continue to grow and receive recognition for our work, change and progess with technoloy and provide our clients with all the tools they need to promote and grow their business.