2020 Goals

Feb 3, 2020 / Photography / goal setting

Soaring metal towers of Petronas Twin Towers Malaysia shot from below
Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Hasselblad XPan film camera panorama, 14x39in at 300dpi


I tried “non-goals” last year. That didn’t work for me. This year I’m going back to defining specific goals.

This is the first year where I don’t have a full time job. I quit to pursue art. I’m proud of achieving this life milestone and taking the leap into the unknown.

Here’s what I wrote in my journal:

2020 goals written in journal


My 2020 goals revolve around photography, writing, music, programming & design, and finally finance.

But wait, you say, the last one isn’t art! Yes, but it’s a foundation for all the others. I want to ensure that what I’m doing is financially sustainable.

Photography Goals

I’ve put Part III of A Million Suns story on the back burner for now. I’ve tried several times over the years to finish it. Maybe it’s not the right time; maybe I’m deluding myself. Whatever the reason, it’s not budging. I’ll focus on other things then.

  • Finish printing Archaeology cyanotypes. I’ve put off finishing this project because I wanted to finish Part III first.
  • Start a new photographic series. I have several project ideas in mind, but the goal is to develop one in-depth during 2020. By the end of the year, I want to be at the stage where I have a sizable number of images (at least 20) to look at so that I can see what the project is really about.
  • Learn to float mount my prints. Float mount is a way of presenting a print as if it’s floating above the paper background. I think this presentation highlights the physicality of the cyanotype print (as opposed to simply looking at an image on an iPhone screen). Float mounting makes the print special and mysterious. I’ve had framers do all the float mounting of my prints. I’ve never done it, so this year I will start doing this. This will reduce my expenses and that’s a good thing.
  • Move away from plastic transparency to paper negatives. I go through a lot of transparencies when I print cyanotypes (I go through iterative drafts until I’m happy with how the print looks and feels). I’m concerned about the environmental impact of this process. Do these plastic transparencies even decompose? I have to research this more. Because of these concerns, I will shift to paper negatives when printing my cyanotypes. This move will reduce expenses as well. I will be testing and experimenting a lot.
  • Standardize print sizes. My cyanotype prints have different aspect ratios: squares, rectangles, very narrow rectangles, landscape, portrait, and irregular shapes. There is a method to this madness. I do this because I believe there are millions of possibilities in life (thus the name of this website). I still believe this, but I will standardize so that at least my frames are interchangeable. I know, it’s ironic. This move will further reduce expenses. Do you see a growing pattern here?
man lost floating in the ocean and he sees a guiding star
Adrift. Cyanotype Print With Digital Drawing, 2013. 9” x 17”. Limited edition of 12.


Programming & Design Goals

This area goes into the technical and analytical side of my goals that will support my photography in future years.

  • Migrate website to a new platform. I spent January hand coding this new website! This goal is done. I’ve been meaning to do this for several years as the content management system (CMS) that I was using was discontinued in 2015. I kept putting it off. I didn’t have the energy and time to learn a new system. Also, I couldn’t find a replacement. It had to be open source and free. I hated WordPress so that wasn’t even an option. I have a strong DIY ethic so paid services like squarespace or wix just didn’t appeal. I’ve migrated to Processwire, and I think it’s perfect for artist websites! I’ll write about Processwire more in upcoming articles. I will be improving the website over time, but at least the biggest tasks of coding a new website, migrating, and publishing are done!
  • Implement a shopping cart for customers to buy cyanotype prints and photo researchers and publications to license images.
  • Learn PHP and HTML. I want to learn about these coding technologies so that I can extend amillionsuns in the future. For example, I’ve always thought an online art inventory catalog powering the front end of a website would be nice. Is it worth it to do this (reinventing the wheel, cost vs benefit, economies of scale, etc.)? I don’t know, but I like the idea of creating something useful like this. The first step is to learn the technology. I already spent a few weeks learning Processwire and learning enough code to create this new website so I’ll continue down this path.
  • Create a Plugin or App. When I look back at my accounting career, what I actually did was create new things for people to use. I created a budgeting and forecasting database system, wrote manuals, formulated efficiency metrics, created Tableau dashboards. I was always creating new things! What I want to do now is to create a plugin or app that will help with my art and business processes. It might also help other people too.

Music Goals

What would 1 hour of piano practice a day, produce by the end of the year? I want to find out. I bought a piano March 2019 to learn piano again. I took piano lessons as a kid but stopped in my teens. Synchronicity pulled me back into music. I’m following where it leads. The music goals this year:

  • 1 hour of piano every day
  • Record and Post two YouTube videos documenting my progress.

Writing Goals

Consistency is a challenge with writing. I want to improve writing about my art—the discoveries, successes, and failures. The writing goals this year:

  • Post 1 article per week starting in February, which should mean 44 articles by the end of 2020.
  • Take a writing course.

Finance Goals

Again, you say, finance is not art! You’re right it’s not, but I’m an accountant turned artist. It’s one of my superpowers. All my art endeavours should be financially sustainable. I really wish there are artists who talk about the financial side of things. I can’t find anyone online who does this. 

  • Ramp up organic traffic. Currently I have a typical portfolio site where I display my cyanotype prints and blog a bit and that’s it. This year I will increase the organic traffic so that eventually I can earn money online by selling and licensing my cyanotype prints and by displaying ads and affiliate links. I have no idea how to do any of these things in a systematic way. I will look at ad and affiliate vendors appropriate for my website. It’s unlikely I will qualify this year as I won’t meet the minimum traffic thresholds. It’ll be good to know for the future.
  • Income Goal. I have an income goal this year, but I’m not posting it publicly. Honestly, it’s too low. It’s embarrassing. Next year when I’m more settled in my business, I will start posting income results. Financial bloggers post their monthly income, expenses, and net worth all the time. I haven’t seen any artist do this online. I wish more artists did.

Ok, that’s it for 2020 Goals! Check back December 2020 to see how I did.

About the Author

Jonah Calinawan

Hello! I’m Jonah Calinawan, and I create cyanotype art that makes you think and feeds the soul. I also blog about the quest for a meaningful life using art and positivity.

When not shooting photos or writing, I teach myself piano and recommend Josh Wright’s Propractice tutorials (affiliate link).

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