The Church is made up of Christians from a myriad of different professions, and yet their ordinary tales of God at work rarely get told. In this series, we bring you stories of faith on the frontline 

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My name is Martha Ratcliff and I’m a freelance illustrator and designer based in Leeds. I studied art and design at university and haven’t looked back. I started working for a wedding stationery company and then joined a greetings card publisher. Later, I jumped into the freelance world, which was always a dream of mine. One day I can be sorting out admin, finances and tax – all the tasks associated with running a business – and the next, I can be illustrating a children’s book, designing a card for a supermarket or doing a family portrait. I get involved with branding projects and interact with different clients. I am usually based in my home office, but I occasionally host workshops and get out and about. 

One of the biggest challenges is the nature of self-employed work. I have to trust God for finances. I have flexibility, but it’s also difficult to switch off. If you’re running your own business, it can feel like it’s all on your shoulders. If you don’t have work, you don’t get paid. 

My industry is very fast-paced and subjective. Creatives can take their work very personally. If a greetings card is to sell in a supermarket, it has to be commercial. Working to someone else’s brief can limit your creative freedom. It’s important not to take feedback too personally! I can use my own shop as my creative outlet. 

The gifts I have are from God and I want to do good work and communicate in ways that connect with where people are at. I have created a print that says: “Come as you are.” This is one of my best sellers because everyone can relate to that idea. I seek to tap into human needs and emotions and relate the gospel to those things. 

The world of business can be cut-throat. I try to work in very personal ways and understand what people need in order to use my gifts to enhance the message they want to share. 

God is like my business partner. I pray about everything – pricing decisions, whether to take a client on or not… 

Please pray that I would give my business over to God daily, especially in the current economic climate.

Martha was speaking to Paul Woolley