Each year, famous artists such as Bruno Mars and Paul McCartney wait in their specially designed trailer before performing onstage. Little do they know, architecture junior Amber Pufal is one of the brains behind it.
Since the fall of 2017, Pufal has helped design trailers for the headliners of major music festivals such as Austin City Limits Music Festival, Lollapalooza and Voodoo Music + Arts Experience. While working at Austin-based Panacea Collective, the event production firm that provides her with such opportunities, Pufal creates proposals for clients. Her responsibilities include putting together mood boards for the event or headliner trailer.
Pufal said her love for music and music festivals enhances her appreciation of seeing event production from behind the scenes.
“I’ve only ever done festivals from the side of just going (to them), so being behind the scenes is cool to see it all be produced,” Pufal said. “Also, whenever you work on something for so long, it’s awesome to see it actually come to life.”
She first heard about the job through a mutual friend. Lisa Hickey, one of Pufal’s bosses, said Pufal caught onto the job quickly because of how well she fit into the niche company.
“(Her style) adds to the depth and breadth of what we do,” Hickey said. “She’s helped us get to a next level with certain clients in rendering out spaces in advance and helping them see it’s more than just furniture.”
Architecture professor Michael McCall taught Pufal last fall and said he wasn’t surprised she works at Panacea because of her skills in creative problem-solving.
“(Pufal) was one of the best students I’ve had in my teaching,” McCall said. “(I appreciate) her ability to focus on whatever that problem-solving aspect of architecture is and make it into something that has the ability to be profound, meaningful and beautiful.”
This intensive thinking with regard to design shows up daily in Pufal’s work. She said the job requires a lot of detail orientation. For instance, Paul McCartney’s trailer required some special provisions.
“We had to make sure we had no suede, animal print, leather — stuff you would never think of,” Pufal said.
The details vary depending on the artist, Pufal said. She has designed trailers for an artist who wanted lamps with only red bulbs and another who requested only white furniture.
Pufal said the job can become stressful when concepts get lost in translation or when artists’ requests don’t align with what Panacea has in stock. This past summer’s Lollapalooza showcased what challenges can arise; the team continued adding last-minute orders.
“That was a huge challenge of just like, ‘Where does this go?’” Pufal said. “And we’re in the middle of the park, and we have no idea where any of this goes.”
Despite these challenges, Pufal said she is grateful for the opportunity to pursue two of her passions simultaneously. Unique companies such as Panacea serve as the intersection between creative and technical fields.
Pufal said although her passions appear separate on the surface level, similarities emerge when they are broken down.
“Design, music and art — all of those genres of the art world — they all intermingle at one point or another,” Pufal said. “It’s important to recognize that so we can work together even though we’re defined by separate fields.”