i created a clothing price tag design (consisting of some vector artwork, text, and a raster image as a background), and now i'm attempting to create a grid layout of the tags for print (20 tags on a letter-size page i can print using a desktop printer and cut apart manually).
Sounds simple enough, right? Just duplicate the artwork 20 times. Easy.
But here's the catch: 20 copies of the artwork (i.e. 20 copies of every point, line, object, and image) makes for a freaking huge file, too big for the printer to handle. It gets acceptably smaller if i save it as a PDF without preserving Illustrator editing capabilities, but then that defeats the purpose; i need to be able to change the prices at will.
Now, it would seem to make the most sense to save the individual tag design as its own AI file (let's call it 'tag-design.ai'), then simply Place tag-design.ai into a new file as a link, and duplicate it 20 times to create the print layout. Theoretically, i would only need to edit the artwork itself once (to change the price, change a color, etc.), and the changes would be automatically applied to my layout file. However, this is apparently too much to ask: each time the linked artwork is copied, it creates a new, separate link. To further frustrate things, when i edit the artwork file, i then have to update all 20 links manually, meaning that 20 different times, i get an Open File dialog, and have to select tag-design.ai 20 separate times. In the end, it's an exercise in extreme redundancy, and the file size of the layout isn't made any smaller.
Is there something i'm overlooking, or is there really no better, more efficient solution than just making 20 copies of everything and ending up with a file size of 80-90mb?
select your tag and go to Effect->Distort & Transform->Transform and create let's say 4 copies horizontally. click ok
then go to Effect->Distort & Transform->Transform again and create 3 copies vertically...that'll make your 20 copies
...see if your printer can handle that.
Whenever this kind of question is asked, the same piece of crucial information is invariably left out: You're talking about printing a sheet with 20 instances of the artwork. Do you intend for each printed sheet to contain 20 instances of the same price, or do you intend each printed sheet to have 20 different prices?
Also: Since you're printing 20 instances on a letter-size sheet, the instances must be small. It's really hard to imagine why you would have to have artwork so elaborate that 20 duplicates would choke a printer. You probably need to describe what exactly your "vector artwork, text, and raster image" consists of, and how you constructed it. I suspect grossly oversampled raster images, overly complex vector artwork, or overly convoluted constructs.
What kind of printer are you using?
There are several ways to create a ganged-up step/repeat array of a single design element. But the best way depends upon the answer to the first question and the actual nature of the artwork.
Although yes, InDesign is one way to facilitate this kind of thing, it is not necessarily better for it, nor is it required. I might just as soon do it one of several ways in Illustrator, or by using an Acrobat form, or even in a FileMaker Pro database. Again, it depends on specifics.
You might want to try symbols. After creating the background art for the first tag (minus any text you need to change) select all of the tag art and drag it onto the symbols panel. Ignore the pop-up or just use the name field and click OK. Now you can drag out multiple copies of the tag from the symbols panel and Illustrator will only see it as one piece of art, not 20. Position the tags as you want, place editable text boxes over each tag and edit those with your price changes.
Hope that helps,