Carolyn Davidson

Courtesy of Motoya Nakumura, The Oregonian

Carolyn Davidson

 Media & Graphics Academy

Carolyn Davidson, born in 1943, studied at Portland State University, in Portland Oregon. Originally a journalism major, Davidson switched after a media elective turned out to interest her far more than her initial major. In 1971, she was hired to make a logo for a company known as Blue Ribbon Sports, Inc. This company would later be known as Nike.

Blue Ribbon Sports, Inc. offered Davidson a job in which she designed graphs and charts for meetings. Later, she would design posters, ads, and flyers. Her success with the company led to the request that she design a logo for a new brand of running shoes that Blue Ribbon Sports was planning to release. After submitting five designs, the “swoosh” was picked. The swoosh was supposed to resemble a wing, and hints at Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. Initially, Phil Knight, co-founder of Blue Ribbon Sports, had this ironic comment to make about Davidson’s design: “I don’t love it, but it will grow on me.” Davidson was paid $35 for her design (around $217 dollars today.)

Three years after Blue Ribbon Sports went public as Nike, Carolyn Davidson was presented with 500 shares of Nike stock. Today, Davidson is retired, stays out of the limelight with no known social media accounts, and spends her days engaging in hobbies and volunteer work. 

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