Nick Swan Wins Best New Maker Award at USN Gathering

The Usual Suspect Network (USN) held their 8th annual custom knife meet up, known as The Gathering this weekend. Arvada, Colorado-based Nick Swan took the Best New Maker honors at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. The award caps off an eventful year for Swan, who is looking into production collaborations, expanding his shop, and transitioning into full-time knife making in 2017.

The system for voting at G8 is simple: makers submit their work and fellow exhibitors cast their votes. Swan, 34, says the process is more nerve-wracking than it sounds. “Your work is up there, and you have some living legends looking at your knife.” But Swan’s knives met these legends’ lofty standards. A key component to Swan’s developing skills was the tutelage of Richard Rogers. When Swan was still learning, Rogers, a veteran knife maker who has won over 50 cutlery awards, invited him out to his ranch in New Mexico to see him work. “You learn so much,” Swan says. “It would take a year to learn on my own what I learned there in a day.”

Before he became a knife maker, Swan was collector, and his unique lottery system for selling knives arose out of frustration as a buyer. “I would see knives and be like, ‘Wow, I have to have one – and then realize the maker was booked out for five, six, seven years,” Swan laments. With Swan’s system, would-be customers submit their names into a drawing via his website or social media channels. A customer isn’t guaranteed a knife until their number hits, but at least the lottery system keeps things moving.

Nick & Annie Swan

Fans hoping for a Swan production collaboration might not have long to wait either. Although Swan couldn’t (or wouldn’t) divulge any details, he did hint at possible plans for the future. “It’s definitely something we’re looking into,” was all he would say for now.

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A former sheriff’s deputy and helicopter pilot in St. Johns county, Florida, Swan used knives on the job every day for years. He never bought a knife he didn’t use – even when that meant he had $400+ custom knives as part of his duty carry. “Other guys would look at me and be like, ‘What are you doing?’,” Swan says with a laugh. “But I couldn’t imagine buying a knife and just putting it in a safe.”

Knife featured in image: Nick Swan Knives Cygnet