I distinctly remember seeing Dali's painting (below) in a book when I was nine years old in the library at the Bush School in Wahroonga and being blown away. It was the first time an image had actually drawn me in and played with my mind. Until then I had never seen an image like it. It was a powerful experience.
Painting wise, I became more fond of Magritte, who's style was more clean and stylised - with a explorational playfulness that I enjoyed.
Both these guys really seemed to enjoy making their art and that is important to me.
Your art is a reflection of your perception of yourself and the world.