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Utah Business

Marcus Hadlock, co-creator of the famous "Apocalyptic Ape" NFTs, sits down with Utah business to talk NFT prices, making it big, and designing artwork.

NFT prices may fluctuate, but opportunities abound for the artists

When he was working on the drawings for his Apocalyptic Apes NFTs, Marcus Hadlock was on paternity leave with his seventh child. The project was so successful that by the time his paternity leave ended, he didn’t go back.

“For so many years, I wanted to do something different, but I’ve felt so stuck and in a position where I couldn’t [quit]. Being a parent of seven kids, the stability, the insurance, all those elements. I had a 401k, but you can’t pull that out, you can’t tap into that,” he says. “I felt so stuck for so long, and I felt that the career moves I would want to make would warrant a pay decrease because I’ve always been very creative.”

Things changed pretty quickly for Hadlock when Fity, a co-founder of the Apocalyptic Apes project, reached out after his artist left the project. Hadlock had done some other artwork, but never enough to really think about it as a career, but he wound up taking over the entirety of the Apocalyptic Apes artwork.

During his paternity leave, he spent almost every day working full-time. If this project hadn’t been worth his while, he may have returned to his day job feeling even more burnt out, having spent the whole time working in addition to his childcare responsibilities. But it worked out perfectly. 

With the rise of NFTs and his recent success in the space, he’s made the move to a full-time art career. 

“There’s a lot of times where I did burn out, to be 100 percent honest. After we sold out, I kind of had an emotional breakdown one day—I just couldn’t do anything. I was shocked,” he says. “I was in awe of the whole experience, I was pretty burned out, low energy and low sleep, and I just cried for like an hour, which was completely out of character for me. But just the realization that, it panned out and I potentially didn’t have to go back to work was an overwhelming feeling for sure.”

Hadlock says he was “in disbelief” with how quickly and successfully everything happened with the launch of the Apocalyptic Apes. The AAPE community remains active in Discord, with the nearly 26,000 members rattling off memes, GIFs, and conversation on a constant basis. 

There are also plans for additional releases from Hadlock and company. 

Apocalyptic Apes Queens are launching in March—which will not be a derivative project of Bored Ape Yacht Club, though the concept of ape profile pictures is similar. With the Queens will come future “breeding” for holders of original Apocalyptic Apes and Queens, with future baby ape NFTs. Originally, a project called The Endangered, featuring gorillas and pandas, was slated to follow the original Apocalyptic Apes, but the community wanted the Ape Queens first, so that’s what the leadership group decided to pursue first.

Apocalyptic Apes are one of thousands of NFT projects, as more and more people enter the space. That leaves a lot of competition for eyes and dollars, and leadership is always working to keep their project on the upswing, adding utility and engaging buyers. Still, the series of 8,888 unique apes has since dropped in the OpenSea rankings, with a floor of 0.38 ETH as of this writing, but Hadlock’s not concerned.

As the artist for the project, Hadlock admits that he doesn’t pay too much attention to the fluctuating floor price of Apocalyptic Apes, though it’s important that people continue to be engaged and involved to ensure the future success of future projects. “If it goes really low, I do feel concerned, because I know it’s not my responsibility, but I do kind of feel like I’m responsible for all these people’s investments, I know I can’t do that, and I have to take my personal part out of that equation,” he says. 

“Everybody that minted has made money, potentially. And there are people who bought in when it was higher, but that’s the risk of NFTs, so you know, that’s not my responsibility. But me, I just kind of draw all day, so I don’t really engage too much there. I’d rather organic growth anyway, and organic kind of movement in the floor pricing.”

The Apocalyptic Apes and affiliated projects will keep Hadlock busy for quite a while, but if that work were to begin to dry up, Hadlock’s artwork has proven it has some staying power. Since the project, Hadlock has received several offers for other projects since Apocalyptic Apes had its big moment back in December, but he’s turned them down, he says.

“I’ve had so many opportunities open up and I’ve had to turn down dozens of people reaching out, people that are verified and have tens of thousands of followers are asking me to come draw their collections with them and stuff,” Hadlock says. “I just have to turn those all down and focus on the ones that we’re already doing to add value and utility to what we currently have set up, but it’s kind of a crazy space.”