In 1953 at four years of age, Bob’s mum and siblings arrived in Brisbane from Greece to be re-united with his father who came to Brisbane two years prior. Bob’s father was working for his two brother-in-laws in a corner mixed business shop which included a sub newsagency, in the days where supermarkets where unheard of, when families gathered around the radio to hear the soaps of the time.
Bob doesn’t remember if he had any children's story books in Greece, though he does remember feasting on every Walt Disney comic book he could find in his uncles' shop. Utopia was going to the Saturday morning matinee screenings of Walt Disney cartoons, with the standout of these being Fantasia. Bob was mesmerised by the bright colours in the comic books and immersed himself in every story that Walt Disney told through his characters.
Bob distinctly remembers, when he was 20, standing one evening in front of a poster shop in the Elizabeth Street Arcade in the Brisbane CBD and seeing in the window a display of two Salvador Dali posters, The Crucifixion and the Persistence of Memory.
He stood transfixed by the boldness of the Crucifixion and the extraordinary imagination of Dali's melted clock in the Persistence of Memory and thought to himself ‘I wish I could paint like that’. Forty years later that wish came true. Although Bob is inspired by Dali, Miro and Picasso, the underlying influence of Bob Raftopoulos’ art work is Walt Disney and his imaginative characters.
Bob showed signs of creativity in high school art class and after leaving school he embraced amateur photography. He had a 35mm Minolta SLR and a Mamiya 6x9 format camera and a darkroom. He worked as a photographic salesman and did weekend gigs as a wedding photographer.
In the early 1970s Bob travelled to South Africa and visited surf spots featured in the movie ‘Endless Summer’. While there he worked as a newspaper photographer in Durban, and then as a ship's photographer cruising to Madagascar, Mozambique and the Seychelles Islands.
In the mid 1970s, he was back in Brisbane and found work with Sony as their Professional Sales Representative. While there he met his first partner Maria, and subsequently their first born Eugenia arrived. This marriage did not last more than 7 years.
In the '80s he got involved in picture framing and selling fine art prints of all the famous artists and this then morphed into publishing under the imprint of Oz Publishing. Publishing fine art prints and books on pioneering Australian artists such as McCubbin and Streeton. In 1990 there was a major recession which according to the prime minister of the time ‘we had to have’. Bob’s niche market evaporated.
Bob’s then girlfriend of six years, Melissa, suggested 9 September 1990 for the date of their marriage. Two daughters soon followed, Danielle and Renee, and Melissa and Bob divorced in 2009.
Bob was 41 when he married Melissa and finding employment in a recession was difficult. As a last resort he turned to Commercial Real Estate Sales. Bob became disillusioned with real estate and left this line of work twice and returned. Finally he finished his real estate career in 2007 and, lucky for us, Bob Raftopoulos has been creating art ever since.