Northeastern Sweeps HupSpot Playoffs

Three young whippersnappers claimed victory in the HubSpot/Dribbble Analog Playoff earlier this month. Community Manager Samuel Fine noticed a connection: All three attend Boston’s Northeastern University.

During an Analog Playoff, meetup organizers give attendees paper and pencil, a theme and a time limit. For the mid-January meet up at their Cambridge (Massachusetts) headquarters, three of HubSpot’s designers created a giant whiteboard cityscape. Portions of a similar mural were reproduced on paper for a Playoff; designers had 20 minutes to augment the skyline.


Recent Northeastern graduate, current lecturer and soon-to-be Intrepid designer Aaron Tenbuuren took the pink for his design “Finishing the City,” featuring a King-Kong-sized designer (Aaron?) sketching skyscrapers. Senior Sophie Greenspan, majoring in graphic design, filled the sky with a lovely hand-lettered “Boston.” Graphic design and interactive media major Stephanie Lee went international, adding famous landmarks from other cities.

When Sam discovered all three winners attended Northeastern, our curiosity was piqued. Who are these upstarts? Are they headed down a design track or did they come for the swill and the swag? How do they use Dribbble? And, of course, what are they working on?

Over the next three days we’ll run Timeouts with the three winners. The questions differ from our usual queries, but the goal is the same: To help you get to know the Players holding court at Dribbble. First up: Playoff champ Aaron Tenbuuren. Enjoy!

Who are you? How did you end up at Northeastern, and what is your focus there?

Aaron TenbuurenI’m a recent Northeastern graduate, having finished my last semester this past fall. I chose to go to Northeastern because of their co-op program, and ability to help students find jobs post-graduation. I knew since I was a young child that I wanted to do something related to the arts, and graphic design allowed me to both continue with something I love and make a living doing so. Northeastern tends to focus on the print aspects of design, but places a huge emphasis on typography.

Write a professional description of yourself. In other words, describe yourself as a designer/artist.

I find myself to be a more illustrative designer. A lot of my stuff has an emphasis on graphics and colors rather than strictly typography. I try not to categorize myself in any type of design style, and I want to be able to design for any client. However, recently my stuff has taken a more flat aesthetic.

I’ve always been a pen-and-paper type of person, having never used a computer for design until my first semester of college, so I like to start out in a sketchbook. Rarely do I jump into Illustrator straight away. I find doing that limits me, as I design based on the program rather than what I want to see.

I also really like to play with color a lot. A lot of people don’t realize that I’m colorblind, so I guess I’m doing something right when it comes to color choices. I think that having that slight disability forces me to really be careful as to what colors I choose, and may even give me an advantage when picking colors that need to have high contrast with each other.

What are your professional goals?

Currently, I am working part time for Northeastern, teaching a couple one-credit classes focusing on the basics of After Effects. It’s a lot of fun showing students how to use a program most of them have never heard of before. It’s also really rewarding to see how they react when they make something move or interact like you would see in real life.

I just accepted a position at Intrepid this past week, so I’ll be starting there soon as well. Intrepid is an app developing company, so I’ll be working with a great team of designers and developers, producing some really cool apps for android and iOS devices.

How do students use Dribbble? How did you discover Dribbble?

I was introduced to Dribbble by my roommate [Edwin Morris], who was given an account through his workplace. [Ed. Note: Another Northeasterner, Lise Statelman, drafted Aaron.] I decided it would be a great place to get feedback on my work, and potentially find either a job or make connections with those who would be able to help me with a job search in the long run. It has also been a huge influence on the projects I’m working on. A lot of the time, I like to browse to find what type of styles, colors, patterns, or layouts are trending. It can really help to make sure my stuff is staying up to date with what everyone else is doing.

I’ve also been to two Dribbble meetups now, each of which have been a blast, and allowed me to make tons of connections and friends. It’s really cool to be able to interact with those you follow, and see how their design style is reflected in their personality.

Finally, choose a favorite shot. Tell us why it’s a favorite.

I want to ride my bicycle

My favorite shot on mine would have to be my debut shot [I want to ride my bicycle] both because I feel it was a pretty nice challenge to illustrate a bike from that particular perspective, as well as the fact that it was my first shot, so it’s a little bit of a sentimental thing. I remember being pretty nervous about uploading a shot, but after it was up, the great encouragement and comments I received from other users really got me in the mood to post more and become more confident with my designs.

Find Aaron at Dribbble, on Twitter, and at

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