Painter at 63
Jules Maidoff quit the New York rat race and headed to Tuscany to pursue a dream.

By Leslie Haggin Geary, CNN/Money staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - By the time he was in his mid-30's, Jules Maidoff knew plenty about working.

Part of New York's artistic elite, Maidoff owned a hugely successful graphics design studio in midtown Manhattan, and his Rolodex was filled with big-name clients like Harper & Row publishers and Vanguard records.

Work wasn't a 9-to-5 affair for Maidoff. He spent frenzied days at work before shuttling to various parties and cultural events, where he'd often socialize with professional and personal contacts, well into the night.

"The years raced by. I wasn't seeing the seasons. I wasn't seeing my wife. I wasn't watching my children grow up the way I wanted to,'' Maidoff, now 63, recalls.

In fact, by the time he was 40, Maidoff was tiring of his New York life. So he bought a farmhouse in a small Tuscan village outside Florence. That provided a temporary respite from his harried life as a professional, but it wasn't enough. Three years later, Maidoff closed his New York firm and packed up his family for a permanent move to the Italian countryside.

His plan? To make it as an artist. In fact, Maidoff had painted part-time for years, and when he moved to Italy, he told himself it was time to succeed as an artist. He had no idea how he'd fare and admits he made his move with some amount of trepidation.

He needn't have worried. Eventually, his works began showing in galleries around the world. He has been featured in exhibits along with the likes of Niki de St. Phalle, Cy Twombly, Man Ray and Alexander Calder and has been invited or received awards from such prestigious centers as the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Still, Maidoff insists his talents don't give him a unique ability to pursue a life that many others only dream about. A dream "retirement" isn't something that should be a prize for people who spend decades working at jobs they hate, he notes. Instead, individuals need to create dream working lives for themselves that they can embrace in the present.

"My advice is take charge of your own life," says Maidoff. "You have to ask yourself, 'What is success?'

"I asked, 'Is the American New York dream of success my dream?' My answer was, 'No.' "

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