Black teenager makes millions selling digital art

By AFRO Staff

An African-American teenager is now a multi-millionaire after sparking demand for her art in the digital market.

Nyla Hayes sells her art as NFTs, or “non-fungible tokens.” These tokens are unique or one-of-a-kind assets, such as an original song or painting, which are sold online and purchased through cryptocurrency.

The 13-year-old’s designs focus on illustrations of ordinary and famous women, such as Michelle Obama, Virginia Woolf, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Frida Kahlo. Although the subjects of her now 3,000 portraits are varied, they all bear Hayes’ trademark – elongated necks, which the teenager says were inspired by her childhood love of brontosaurus dinosaurs, which she called “long neckies”.

“At first I just wanted to put two things that I love together, and that was a Brontosaurus and women,” she told “Today.” “I wanted to show how beautiful and strong women were, and I also thought of Brontosaurus like that.”

Hayes started drawing when he was 4 years old and his parents bought him a smart phone when he was 9 to promote his gift.

“I could see how passionate she was about her art and I just thought if I could support her in any way. That’s exactly what I’m going to do,” Latoya Hayes told NBC News .

One of the “Long Neckie Ladies” portraits created and sold by 13-year-old Nyla Hayes as an NFT on the digital marketplace. (Photo courtesy of Instagram/nylacollection_nft)

At first, Hayes just showed his doodles to family and friends, fearing that others would find them “strange”. But, then an uncle introduced them to the world of NFTs, and she decided to share her art with the world.

“Honestly, when I first heard about NFTs, I was kind of like, honestly, I don’t know about that, but I’ve wanted to get my art out for a while, so that was a good blast. -shape to do it,” she said. .

Since then, Hayes’ success has skyrocketed. In January, his portrait of Frida Kahlo sold for nearly $5,000; in February, one of his “Long Neckie Ladies” sold for around $3,000, and in March, another sold for over $6,000. In total, his art brought in around $7 million in sales.

Additionally, in 2021, Time Magazine named the teenager its first “Artist-in-Residence”, in recognition of artists who find success through NFTs. As part of this gig, Hayes recreated the magazine’s “Women of the Year” cover portraits.

“I just thought it would be cool to show my art and show it to people,” Hayes said. “But to see how people react to it…. I didn’t expect it to explode like that.”

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