This 12-year-old has made nearly $6 million with NFTs — and she’s just getting started

Nyla Hayes NFT artist
(Image credit: Nyla Hayes)

Update: Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed NFTs will come to Instagram, though he hasn't specified when or how it might work

At 12 years old, Nyla Hayes is already many things, including a student, artist and, yes, millionaire entrepreneur. And yet when you speak with Nyla you don’t get the feeling that her sudden success has gone to her head.

And it would certainly be easy to get carried away. After all, Hayes has already earned over $5.7 million in Ether cryptocurrency thanks to her NFT artwork, which has sold extremely well. She also recently created a collection for Time Magazine as an “Artist-in-Residence” portraying Time’s 100 Women of the Year. 

It’s no wonder that we’ve named Hayes to the 2021 Future 50 Awards, which recognizes the 50 most influential people in technology who are driving innovation. 

My Long Neckies stand for diversity. It’s meant to make people comfortable in their own skin and make young girls feel powerful about being themselves.

Inspired by the long necks of her favorite dinosaur, the Brontosaurus, Nyla is known for her Long Neckie portraits of women. And it started when she was age 9.

“I was actually at my Grandmother's and I just got my new phone, and I asked my Grandma what should I draw. And she said ‘draw something that you love to do,’ said Hayes. “So I love being a female and I love the brontosaurus dinosaur and I said well what if I put the two together and start making these girls with long necks and call them long neckies.”

Nyla Hayes long neckie NFTs

(Image credit: Nyla Hayes)

Before Hayes knew it she had created a collection, and her uncle advised going the NFT route for two reasons. One, it would enable her artwork to be seen by more people without much up front cost and, two, “blockchain provides me protection on my IP,” as Hayes puts it. 

Spoken like a true 12-year-old. Although to be fair, Hayes turns 13 January 1st.

For Hayes, the message of her artwork is a lot more important than the payoff. The Long Neckies concept is about empowerment and loving yourself. 

“My Long Neckies stand for diversity and women from all around the world. It’s meant to make people comfortable in their own skin and it’s meant to make young girls feel powerful about being themselves,” said Hayes.

So what’s next? Hayes didn’t want to give too much away, but she wants to continue to inspire others and plans to do just that by mixing the NFT space and the digital world with the physical world.

“I’m going to try to put the two together but that’s all i can tell you,” shared Hayes. Stay tuned. 

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.