Born in 1953 in Philadelphia, Bullock grew up the second of two sons in a lower middle class family in Southern New Jersey. Although drawing and painting had always been fun for him, he didn't like the idea of pursuing art as a career when he grew old enough to start thinking about such things. Instinctively (if not stubornly) he wanted nothing to do with the competitive and deliberate approach to art making that he believed would necessarily accompany a formal art education.
Instead, he deferred "higher learning" altogether in favor of working at several odd jobs including trash collector, house painter, construction worker, machinist, and professional musician. Between jobs he would frequently travel for as long and far as his money would allow.
In 1986, motivated partly by depression, he decided to embark upon a two-and-a-half-year "soul searching" expedition throughout Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Southeast Asia. This trip resulted in his decision to rent an art studio upon his return, and begin taking artwork more seriously.
Bullock worked for several years as a title researcher during the day, and painted in his studio at night and on weekends. For brief periods, he attended classes at Fleisher Art Memorial and tried, but never finished, a semester at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. As a teacher had writen in his third grade report card, "Robert seems to prefer learning things the hard way - from the school of hard knocks!"
In 1995, Bullock began painting murals with the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network and, as things got slow at his title searching job, he volunteered to be laid off. While unemployed, he moved to Philadelphia and volunteered to help set up an art exhibit for people in recovery from mental health disorders. The art that he saw, and the people that he met in the process, inspired him to try to build a system to support primarily self-taught artists. Later that same year, he founded the Coalition Ingenu Self-taught Artists' Collective.
In 1997, Bullock began working with Project H.O.M.E., a non-profit organization offering Housing, Opportunities for employment, Medical assistance, and Educational opportunities for the over 500 residents of their many low-income housing facilities throughout the city. Bullock continues to facilitate the art programs there and conducts workshops in four locations.
Since 1995, Bullock has painted 14 murals throughout the Philadelphia area, and Coalition Ingenu has presented over 60 exhibits and displayed over 5000 works of art by self-taught artists with histories of homelessness and/or mental illnesses. For creating opportunities for artists with disabilities, Coalition Ingenu was awarded last years Access Achievement Award from the Mayors Commission on People with Disabilities.
Partly inspired by the wild imaginations of some his "students" Bullock's personal artwork has evolved into an ongoing exploration into the creative process itself, through an intentionally relaxed and experimental form of elaborate "doodling" with as little emphasis as possible on the final outcome.
"What fascinates me most" says Bullock "is this: The more you try NOT to care about the end result, the more fun you can have with the process. And when you're having fun with the process, in spite of yourself, you tend to end up with a very entertaining peice of artwork".