The Woman Who Designed the Nike Swoosh Couldn't Afford to Take an Art Class
24 October, 2015
The Nike Swoosh is one of the few logos in sportswear — or anywhere, for that matter — that can truly be referred to as iconic. The symbol of Nike was first designed in 1971 by then-Portland State University student Carolyn Davidson for the measly sum of $35. It turns out that, at the time, Davidson could have used every cent of that amount.
In a story recalled by PSU, Davidson wanted to enroll in an oil painting class, but she couldn't afford to sign up for the course. When she met Nike co-founder Phil Knight, he said, "Are you the one who can't afford to take oil painting?"
As the story goes, "He said, 'Would you like to design a shoe stripe?' I didn't hesitate and as luck would have it, I didn't have any competition," Davidson said. "He just wanted it to look like speed."
Ironically, Knight wasn't pleased with the design at first, but it eventually grew on him.
Later on, Nike would give Davidson an undisclosed amount of stock, assuring that she'd be financially reimbursed for creating the signifier of the biggest sportswear brand in the world.