Street art is now a business, not just a passion project, and artists are entrepreneurs. Though they’re finding more opportunities than ever to paint, disentangling the joy of the work from the complexity of its impacts becomes tougher as the art itself becomes more valuable to more people. “If a developer has a lot of money and is going to pay me and I need a job, weighing out my morals versus my rent is a really hard decision to make,” says Ellen Rutt, a Detroit artist who has painted both commercial and noncommercial murals. “And I feel like it’s hard to put the responsibility on the people who are more at risk and also experiencing the effects of gentrification. That’s one of the hard parts — sometimes I’m painting a wall and I’m literally painting myself out of my own apartment.”
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