Coolest Parties

Working Online with My Little Sister Tamar

Since I started working online with my first Web site in 2003, I’ve written a whole lot about my success with Site Build It! I get quite a bit of mail from people who’ve been inspired by my story and it gives me great satisfaction to discover that by documenting my experiences, I inspire others to set out on their own journey of liberation.

But now, six years later, I think it’s time to set the record straight and clear up one very important inaccuracy:

It’s not MY story.

It’s OUR story.

Tamar’s and mine.

Here and there I’ve written about the very special partnership I have with my little (and only) sister Tamar, who is 11 years younger than I. But I don’t think I’ve ever really stressed how much of an important part she has played in our success with working online. Her story is no less inspiring than mine. One thing’s for sure, she is a great inspiration to me.


Tamar and Me


As I describe in our original story of working online, I asked Tamar to join forces with me when I first discovered Site Build It!. At the time, I wasn't aware of how fateful a decision that would be.

Nowadays, I recommend to anyone who's taking their first steps with SBI! and working online: Consider finding yourself a partner! It can get quite confusing and overwhelming when you're just starting off and things aren't happening as fast as you were hoping. With a partner at your side, you can drive each other through those disheartening days and keep focused on your goals.

In retrospect, it turned out that I had more luck than sense in teaming up and working online with Tamar.

She is an amazing individual with so many capabilities that are far beyond my own. I always knew that she was talented, but wasn't aware of how great we would complement each other when working online together. We are very different in how we approach things. Tamar enjoys being more in the background to think things out, philosophize, research thoroughly and take her time before she moves forward. She's very scrupulous - sometimes even too thorough.

I'm pretty much the opposite. I tend to be impulsive. I'm constantly envisioning the big picture and looking to move forward. I feel comfortable being in the forefront (as you've probably noticed by now ;-), and, as a writer-at-heart, I love writing about my experiences. Tamar prefers not to write, and here I am writing her story for her :-)

We are such a perfect team that each one of us is convinced that the other is doing all the "dirty" work :-)

Honestly, I think we'd both have a hard time working online and succeeding if we were on our own.

For the past six years, Tamar has been an art student and mainly works on the sites during vacations. She earns her share of our Website income, which is a salary that is probably higher than any of her teachers. And, most importantly, by working online she has the freedom to focus just on her art without spending her valuable time working shifts like many of her counterparts.

You could say that by working online she lives a student's dream and an artist's dream.

I’ve often asked Tamar to write about her experiences as an art student working online who needs not hold a “real” job to support herself. But as I mentioned earlier, Tamar is not a woman of words. She is a woman of art (most recently video art). And through her art she best expresses herself. Several years ago, when asked to express what the freedom of SBI meant to her, she answered in her very unique artistic language:



From very early on we all knew that Tamar was destined to be an artist just like our father, Zvika, should have been. Dad was an artist at heart, but with a family to support during hard financial times, art wasn’t much of an option and he became a mathematician. It was really cool having a father that could draw you anything you asked for (and help you with your Calculus homework…)

Both Tamar and I had a very special relationship with our father. He was the best dad a child could hope for. And, although he was very busy scribbling mathematical equations, he always had time and patience to spend quality hours with us. One thing I remember most about Tamar and Dad is that they could philosophize for hours on end, discussing the most esoteric of topics. In other words - Artists :-)

When my dad got sick with cancer in late 2001, Tamar dropped everything and took care of him. That’s all she did for eight long months until he passed away at the age of 54 on July 25th, 2002.

Obviously, those were hard times for us all. But Dad left such a strong legacy, that although he is no longer with us physically, he is very much alive within us all - in most everything we do. Several days after he passed away, Tamar created a video clip in his memory (far before she got into video editing and video art). I don't really know where she found the strength to work on such a project so soon after his passing, but the result was magical.

I wasn't really sure if I wanted to share this family video here on the site with anonymous passers-by, but after giving it some thought, I don't think there's a better place than right here to commemorate our father with whomever cares to watch. And, to say thanks again and again to Tamar for creating this. It's because of this video that my girls seem to really know their grandfather, although they never really met him:



In July of 2009 Tamar graduated from the renowned Bezalel school of art here in Israel. When I visited her final art exhibition, it was no surprise to me that she had dedicated her concluding exhibition to our father.

Amidst the many other exhibitions I saw there, a very special ambience resounded particularly from Tamar’s exhibit. Now, you may say that I'm not objective with regards to my sister's exhibit (and you're probably right…), so I'll just quote what a well-known art critic in Israel wrote about the Bezalel School graduates' exhibition in the "Haaretz" national newspaper:

"The most prominent exhibition is that of Tamar Shippony who presents her video art projects beside a kinetic sculpture. Shippony deals with situations of obscurity, dream and secrecy. In the middle of the room stands her project "From the Depths" which is made of densely positioned cardboard plates. From one end of the room they seem to form a casket. From a different angle they look like a topographical map. Finally you discover that the cardboard plates create a tunnel. A light bulb that passes back and forth above the tunnel lights up the inside and turns the tunnel into an architectural model of an ominous space."

(Say What?! Gosh, these art critics have a really odd way of describing something that is just captivating to look at. I guess they get paid for complicating things… :-)

Although in real life it's much more impressive, here's a peek at Tamar's exhibit:



Did you notice that video clip projected on a hanging screen?

It was a class assignment. Mere homework, you could say. Tamar's friend convinced her to enter it into a film festival in the Video Art and Experimental Cinema category.

And guess what?!

Tamar's clip won FIRST prize in the Jerusalem International Film Festival - the most prominent Film Festival in Israel!


Tamar at the Award Ceremony
With Tamar right after winning the award!


This is what the judges had to say:

"The complexity of this 1:30 minute work demonstrates the ability of Ms. Shippony to create a language that is personal, original, and exciting, reverberating far beyond the personal..."

Here's Tamar's award-winning clip called "In Between":


I can go on and on about my little sister, my friend, my business partner in working online, and the artist I most admire. But I think I've written enough. (Besides, she'll probably edit out most of what I've written about her.) But I'm sorry, I can't help it - I'm so very proud of her. And I'm sure that our Father (wherever he may be) is too.