Get to Know Your Speakers: Ben Dunkle

1) What do you do for a living (company you work for, official title, daily responsibilities, etc.)?
I’m an associate professor at Canisius College, in the Digital Media Arts program. I teach students about the web, and graphic design, and typography, and illustration, and user interface, and print design. I research the heck out of digital icon technology. I consult for Field 2 Design, a WordPress design and development studio in Buffalo, NY.

2) How did you get into WordPress?
I’ve been aware of it since b2. Around 2006, one of my students showed me a website done in WP, and it looked just like the ones I was making with plain old html. I thought, to that point, it was just a blogging app. That’s when I saw that these platforms (WP, drupal, Moveable Type, Joomla, etc.) could power entire sites and take away the pain of heavy programming. I played around with everything and it became clear that WP was by far the best one. Then in 2008, the WP open source community had a contest to design the icons for vs. 2.7, which featured a dramatic overhaul of the wp-admin. I won. After that, I was permanently listed on as a core designer. Hooray!

3) What’s a great experience you had at a WordCamp?
Matt Mullenweg added me to his state of the word address in 2013, talking about the mp8 plugin we worked on that lead to the current WP admin. I got to stand up and people cheered for me. Hooray!

4) What are your non-WordPress, non-Computer related hobbies?
Drawing (because you need to draw constantly in this business), printmaking (I have an MFA in printmaking, focused on artist books and intaglio, from SUNY Buffalo), chess (3 minutes or less only), swimming (ex-Jones Beach lifeguard for 7 years), surfing (Lake Erie, where I live, get some nice swells in the fall–search youtube!), yoga (I do something called Ashtanga yoga to try to stay in shape), sci-fi movies (particularly anything with Ethan Hawke or Ewan McGregor).

5) If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why?
Spiderman. No other superhero comes close.