I'm launching a clothing company soon, and I have a design in illustrator that I must send to my screen printer. I am mainly an artist, so I drew the design. But I feel like the file is very sloppily formatted and the printer needs better to print. For example, the design has a finger over lips. I drew the lips first, then the finger on top, leaving the lips under it. Is there a way to simply combine alike colors as one object, but have them still stay in the correct placement behind/in front of things. Thanks!
Expanding artwork then clicking the Merge button on the Pathfinder Panel will "unite" objects with similar fills that touch, and remove any underlying objects.
More info on Pathfinder operations here: https://graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/a/28129/3270
Beyond this, it's difficult to provide any further suggestions without seeing artwork and how exactly it's constructed.
Ouch... The recommendation will probably be a little late for the original user, but here I go.
There are two main methods of printing an image: Color selection or color separation.
The problem is not that you send an object finger over an object lip. That is not important.
The important thing is that you need to define if those lips are going to use a combination of magenta and yellow formed by little dots, a solid red with solid white highlights and solid black on the shadows; different shades of red, etc.
Printing a specific design is not only making a design and sending it to the printer. You need to think and generate it exactly as you want it to be, so you need to look those details on other existing prints.