The Mother of the Nike Swoosh

The birth of the nike swoosh designed by Carolyn Davidson
The Mother of the Nike Swoosh: Carolyn Davidson // DNAMAG

It was a female artist who created one of the most iconic brand logos of our time. In 1971 Carolyn Davidson was a graphic design student at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon at the same time that Phil Knight (Co-founder and CEO of Nike) was also there teaching accounting. It's important to note that Phil Knight and his business partner had founded and athletic brand company Blue Ribbon Sports, which eventually became Nike (in 1971). If you've studied graphic design or marketing, this story is most likely familiar to you. Knight approached Davidson to design a logo for a sports shoe that "had something to do with movement". After presenting Knight with a variety of 5 logos, he rejected four and selected a simple design that for some reason resonated with him  ----  that was the Swoosh. Davidson invoiced him for $35. No, that's not a typo, she was paid $35 for the iconic Nike Swoosh logo. 

The mother of the Swoosh; Carolyn Davidson // DNAMAG

Before your feminist wiles go into outrage, let's not forget this was back in 1971. It was said in an interview, that Davidson was just happy that she had money to buy art supplies. But, then fast forward to September 1983 when Nike had gone public, Knight granted Davidson up to 500 shares of stock along with a custom diamond ring of her Swoosh design. That certainly makes up for the $35 invoice. Since then Davidson had gone on to work on various design projects, but retired in 2000 (thanks to those Nike stocks I'm sure). 

During Women's Month, this story is an important one especially for women working in creative fields. Know your strengths, believe in your talents and always ask for what your time and quality of work is worth. There are hundreds of Carolyn Davidson's out there, yet perhaps not so many Phil Knight's. 


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