By Søren Aaby

I met Mark Wengler at an Act in Public event in Copenhagen. He asked if he could come by later and take some pictures of a Santa Cruz longboard I had in the corner for a small art-project Mark had in mind. A few weeks later, he sent me this cool piece 🤙🏼 so naturally, I had to find out who Mark Wengler was and what his project was about - it turned into a super interview. Here is Mark's story and a few of his "Board Spirits" art-pieces.

My Santa Cruz longboard after Mark Wengler gave it a spin


I used to be a super passionate windsurfer in my younger days. I was eating, breathing, and sleeping windsurfing, like a hungry monster. You could say my life was all about the “motion of the ocean” nothing else made any real sense to me. 

Even today not a single day goes by without checking the weather forecast, and if I see a powerful “low” moving in from the Atlantic, I feel a weird sensation that makes me feel…happy and fulfilled. Some would probably call me a “mental weather case” but hey, who cares, it’s what rocks my world.

But my windsurfing passion ended in a split-second back in 2004, when my car was hit from behind by a drunken truck driver. My neck was badly injured, so that was it. No more windsurfing, surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, mountain biking, tennis, etc. - all the sports I loved so much. Life really can be a freaking bitch!!

I then - heavenly drugged on painkillers - went down a very dark road for many years, suffering from hardcore headaches and pain in my upper spine, which I'm still struggling with today, after all these years. 

But after feeling sorry for myself for several years, I one day realized that my life had to change, otherwise my health situation would “slowly fade out”, because of all the medications I was living on - I simply had to make a choice, either I could to “see the glass half empty - or half full” - I decided to go for "half full”. I “dissed" the painkillers, changed my diet into a much more plant-based diet, and started to build my body up again very slowly using gentle yoga exercises.

Buying my first camera truly changed my spirit in so many ways. First of all, it made me want to re-connect to my beloved ocean life, but this time as an observer through my lens. One thing led to another and on a trip down to Portugal I meet a bunch of Pro Big Wave Surfers - Garrett McNamara from Hawaii, Hugo Vau from Portugal, and Andrew Cotton from the UK. We became good friends and over the years I followed their passionate hunt for the perfect wave, which has given me so many amazing surfing adventures, and in some strange way, it saved my soul from self-pity, focusing on pain and misery. 

One night while I was in Portugal shooting a huge swell, I had a surreal dream. In short terms, it was about how boards absorb the energy between the rider’s mental passion and the inertia from the surface they ride their boards on… these boards simply gained a soul… or a “board spirit” as they appeared in my dream. 

During my trips with this big wave crew, I for some unknown reason shot a bunch of pictures of some of their amazing boards, I guess I've always had a passion for "everything ridable” - the more colorful they were, the more they caught my attention.

Then on a trip to the US, I had a long waiting time because of flight cancellation in LA, so I started to play around with Photoshop on my laptop, with some of these big wave boards. I then posted the result on Facebook for fun. Two weeks later a guy from the UK bought it as art for his living room. Several years later my creations are hanging all over the globe, which really nurses my soul. Because if my “Board Spirits” are able to project just a tiny bit of some of the positive vibes and spirits behind these rideable objects, I then feel I’ve accomplished something positive with my art pieces.

Life is strange sometimes because a few weeks ago I made a deal with a gallery who have ordered 4 of my “Board Spirits” which is really exciting. And who knows where this new journey will take me, hopefully, I’ll find some more interesting boards owned by passionate riders, who committed their lives to ride waves…or concrete. One thing is for sure, I love shooting all kinds of boards and giving them a new, artistic, and eternal life in a home somewhere around the globe.

I am building a website now, not finished yet - but I run a small Facebook and Instagram page, both under the name “Rip and Snap" where you can follow my photographic journey through the ocean and urban environment. Plus I’ve also made a Facebook and Instagram page called “Board Spirits”.