About Jonah

Accountant turned artist. What happens next?

Hello there! My name is Jonah Calinawan (JO-nah ca-lee-NA-wan), and I’m an accountant turned artist from Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Through my cyanotype photographs and blog writing, I hope to inspire you to follow your bliss. Whatever your soul longs to do, you can do it. I’m proof of that.

asian man with platinum blonde hair


I Did Not Plan to be an Artist

I bought my first camera in 2002 on a whim.

In 2008, a photography workshop instructor suggested a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree to further my photography. Why waste money on an arts degree? I thought about it for a long time. 

In 2010, after many cost-benefit analyses, I entered the MFA online program at the Academy of Art University while working full time.

That Camera Altered the Trajectory of my Life

Completing my MFA four years later in 2014, I’m amazed at the unintended path I embarked on.

I specialize in a hand-applied 19th-century printing process called cyanotypegiving my prints their deep blue color. My cyanotypes have been exhibited locally and internationally—from China, the US, and the UK.

man talking about his cyanotype prints on display in exhibition
Jonah Calinawan Artist TalkPhoto Courtesy of Art Intersection Gallery


Discovering FIRE

In 2017, I discovered FIRE, the “Financial Independence Retire Early” movement. It electrified me to imagine how I could devote more time to create new things.

After many what-if financial modeling, I quit my full-time job in 2019. What used to be a hobby done on the weekends will now morph into something else.

Much like the man in my ongoing photographic series A Million Suns, I search for the future by connecting the dots of my former life as an accountant to the new one as an artist. I’m following my bliss to see where it leads.

What Happens Next?

I have no idea, and that’s the best part. Join me on this journey.

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Education

Master of Fine Arts in Photography
CPA Certified Public Accountant (Illinois, USA)
Chartered Professional Accountant (Canada)
Bachelor of Mathematics

A Subset of Art Exhibitions

2018 Overlea ArtsFest, 1st PRIZE, Baltimore, MD.
2017 National Arts Program Exhibition, Johns Hopkins Hospital, 1st PRIZE, Baltimore, MD
In Transit, VETS Gallery, Rhode Island, USA.
2016
A Cartography of Dreams, Dimbola Museum, Isle of Wight, UK.
Lemniscate of Diffusion, A Smith Gallery, Texas.
Art of Science, Maryland Science Center.
2015
(re)View: Explorations in Human Nature, Art Intersection Gallery, Arizona.
Photowork 2015, 3rd PRIZE, Barrett Art Gallery, New York.
Memory, see+ Gallery, Beijing, China.
2014
Shenzhen International Photography Festival, Guangdong, China.

Accounting Career Before Becoming an Artist

2004-2019

World Bank Group, Washington DC, USA. The World Bank Group is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. Its’ vision is to reduce poverty, increase shared prosperity, and promote sustainable development in developing countries.

1994-2003

KPMG, Toronto, Canada. KPMG is one of the Big Four accounting organizations in the world offering financial audit, tax, and advisory services.

Sleep featured in a Baltimore Billboard
Sleep featured in a Baltimore BillboardNear Penn Station


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