Maya Penn



Teenage girl painting.

Maya Penn painting in her studio. Photo by Phil Skinner

My name is Maya Penn. I live in Atlanta. I'm a 15-year-old artist, animator, (I make animated short films), designer, coder, illustrator, and writer. I always knew I wanted to be an artist and an animator and have had a love for art and design. I've been drawing ever since I could hold a crayon, and I started making flip books at three years old. At eight years old, I began designing eco-friendly fashion, and I started my own company called Maya's Ideas. My designs are sold all over the world—I have customers in Denmark, Italy, Australia, and more. I love to use my creativity to give back. Ten to twenty percent of my profits go to local and global charities and environmental organizations. I'm also an author—I've written and illustrated two children's books. I'm currently writing a book for teens about my journey as a young entrepreneur and artist.

I'm also really into technology! When I was about four years old, my dad showed me how to take apart a computer and put it back together again, and that really started my love for technology. I've built my first website myself, and I'm learning JavaScript and HTML 5 so I'm really hands-on in all aspects of my business. I also have a nonprofit organization called Maya's Ideas 4 The Planet. I'm working on a project with my nonprofit where I have created 5,000 eco-friendly sanitary pads for girls in developing countries. I've partnered with an organization called MedShare for the distribution of the pads.

I have been featured in many publications, such as Forbes, Huffington Post, TIME, ESSENCE,and Wired, and on television shows such as ABC's The View and The Steve Harvey Show. I've done three TEDTalks. My TEDWomen Talk has gone viral worldwide and it has over a million views and growing. I am the youngest female to do two back-to-back official TEDTalks. I spoke as a keynote at the launch of IBM Verse. I also write a column as a contributing writer for