Here is a bit of advice for you. If you want to be entrepreneurial then get it done when you are in your twenties or thirties. By that I mean artistically. I was around thirty when my friends and I self published our comic book.

If you’re not rich with access to money then friends are the key to being entrepreneurial. That way you can split up the work and risk. It’s really tough to be entrepreneurial when it’s only you. And as people gets older they have less and less time and more and more responsibilities so it gets tough to help each other out as you get into your forties.

I mention this because today I was working on a project that I always meant to be entrepreneurial with but never have been. I started, and nearly finished, this project about twenty years ago. It’s a deck of fortune telling cards. I’ve noticed these types of cards are now called “Oracle Decks” so that’s what I’ll call it.

I in no way shape or form think I can predict the future but I like cards in general and have always found systems of divination interesting. They are systems based on nothing real. Someone had to make all of it up. So I decided to make up my own cards and my own system.

Tarot cards are the most well known type of fortune telling cards but I wanted to mine to be more modern and different from the Tarot. I came up with names for forty eight cards, wrote out what each one means, and made a color drawing for each card. I even made an instruction book to explain the system. It took me a few years to do back in the early 2000s but I got it done. I originally called the cards “The Tourmaline Mystique” but have since changed the name to “The Envoy Oracle Deck.” Tourmaline is a cool word but it’s actually a type of crystal and the name confused people I told it to.

I only ever made one deck of the cards. I printed them out on my inkjet printer, laminated them, and cut each one by hand. I even rounded all the corners of the cards. I thought they came out well and always wanted to take it a step further and have then professionally printed. But I never did.

In the early 2000s there was no Kickstarter to Indiegogo to fund a creative project like that so I never quite knew what to do with the deck. I’m not even sure if there was a place to get it printed back then. I probably finished the deck a couple of years before I turned forty and I didn’t have much entrepreneurial spirit for it. I liked it but I didn’t like the idea of trying to sell it to people. Especially since there was just me to do it.

Over the years I would occasionally look online for places that would print a card deck. Nowadays there are a few of them. Sometimes I’d price them out just to see the cost. Then I’d do nothing. I could get a hundred decks printed up for around five or six hundred dollars but then I’d have to try and sell them. That never seemed like an easy way to make money.

In the last couple of years I’ve noticed a lot of people making their own Tarot decks or oracle decks. At least I get a lot of ads for them in my social media feeds. I don’t know how much of a demand for them there really is but some of the decks are nicely made and can go for between thirty and fifty bucks a deck. Not bad.

The one thing I never did with my deck was to set it up for printing. They were all finished digital files but they were never set up specifically for printing. Except once I set them all up as individual tifs for printing but that was a little cumbersome. What I really needed to do was to set them up as an InDesign document that I could easily make a PDF for print out of.

That was what I was going to do until I decided I wanted to learn something new. I recently saw a video of someone who set up their 32 page comic book all in Adobe Illustrator. Usually InDesign would be used for such a task but he explained why he was using Illustrator. I decided to try to set up my cards for print that way.

There is something in Illustrator called the “Art Board.” That’s basically just a single page. For decades all Illustrator had was one page/art board per document. Each Illustrator file was one picture. Now you can add a lot of art boards. You got thirty two pages in your comic? Then make 32 art boards. I thought I try that out.

As I wrote before this is a task I’d normally handle in InDesign but I wanted to try something new. Ten hours later I wished I had just used Indesign.

The first thing I did was to set up my document at the correct size and then make forty eight art boards. After that I had to open the files for all forty eight cards (which were in Illustrator), scale them to the correct size, and them paste them into the master file with forty eight art boards. This took hours. As I added more and more cards Illustrator had a hard time keeping up. Screen redraw lagged and I couldn’t always trust what I was seeing.

Plus things like “Paste in Place” didn’t work since it had no idea what art board was “In Place.” It would paste stuff anywhere. And “Paste in all Art Boards” pasted multiple things wherever it wanted to. So lining stuff up took longer than it should have. Plus there are no “master pages” like there are in InDesign for the parts of the design that repeat on every card. I had to repeat them manually.

One of the forty eight cards was a real pain. I have no idea why but when I pasted the card into the new file it changed color. Only this one card and I tried everything I knew to get it to stop but it changed color every time. I finally recolored it.

But there was something even stranger than that. Near the end of my day I went to output the document as a PDF on one card showed up. I couldn’t figure out what happened. As I was checking each layer in the document I noticed that all the art boards except one disappeared. All the card art was still there but according to Illustrator forty seven on them were not on pages and therefor could be ignored.

I had to remake all of the art boards and then make sure all the art was in the correct place. I also had to convert all of my type into outlines because Illustrator was choking on all that type and doing weird things with it.

So I did get to learn some new things in Illustrator and now can easily output the cards as PDFs for print but the main thing I learned was that I should have stuck with InDesign. After all multiple page publications for print is what it’s designed for.