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Carolyn Davidson

Carolyn Davidson is a designer best known for creating the Nike Swoosh when she was a student at Portland State University.


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Creator of Nike's famed Swoosh remembers its conception 40 years later

When the Nike pioneers caught their first glimpse of the black, curvy checkmark, the graphic designer waited patiently for a reaction. Nothing. Then, what else you got? Carolyn Davidson, pushing back disappointment that spring day in 1971, pressed on. One by one, she presented a handful of sketches. But ultimately the three men circled back to the checkmark, her favorite. "Well, I don't love it," Phil Knight said at the time, "but maybe it will grow on me." Today, on the cusp of its 40th year, the symbol borne of necessity and a chance meeting at Portland State is one of the most recognizable in the world — so much so that it can stand alone, without even naming the Oregon sports apparel empire it signifies.

Nike logo sketches and early ads.


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