Andy Ward
I was in London the other week and managed to pick up a copy of my last contribution to the weekly slot 'Shelf Life' for the Daily Mail. Written by Simon Parke, an ex church of England priest turned supermarket worker, Shelf Life was his fly-on-the -wall docu-drama soap of his experience of London supermarket life. I loved this job. It reminded me of back when I lived in London following the UK soap Eastenders, and before that working in various UK supermarkets myself to support my art education. I found comfort in picking up the job every friday morning, tuning in to Simons writing and hooking up again with the familiar. Anyone who knows the Carry on films or Benny Hill may understand a little about a certain element of British humour and that contrasted with Simons illuminating perspective on the human condition gathered from years of spiritual practice and mundane community obligations made for great reading.

The slot was originally commissioned for 6 weeks and ended up running until its recent 66th outing. It was a great exercise for me in character development. All of the characters were based on real people and experiences and were recurring week afer week.Anyone who keeps it regular with a weekly knows that they bring challenges. Keeping that time slot free week after week, keeping up the pace and enthusiasm week after week, keeping the ideas coming week after week, and 5 hour tunrarounds,  there's nothing like a weekly for keeping you sharp.

I got to know the writer, Simon during the life of the slot. I called him to touch base before i set to work on the first image and also mailed him over a copy of his character to run by his kids for a critique. As an illustrator i really enjoyed the contact with the writer of the piece i was illustrating. After years of no contact with the writers of the editorial content i illustrate it was really refreshing to be in touch with the writer, and we kept in contact thoughout the run of the slot. Simon was very respectful of my work and saw my contribution to the page as 50% of it's value. As someone who has contributed to a lot of editorial over the years this really added something else to the experience of illustrating.
Shelf Life number 1 from feb 2008
A few Shelf Life favourites
The final Shelf life image, number 66.

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