Joaquín Salvador Lavado was born in Mendoza, Argentina, on 17 July 1932. He was called 'Quino' since childhood, to distinguish him from his uncle, the illustrator Joaquín, who helped to awaken his vocation of cartooning at an early age.

In 1945, after the death of his mother, he enrolled and started his studies at Escuela de Bellas Artes de Mendoza. Shortly after, his father died when Quino was 16 years old; a year later he abandoned his studies, with the intent to become a cartoonist. Soon he sold his first illustration, an advertisement for a fabric store.

His first humor page was published in the weekly magazine 'Esto Es', which led to the publication of other works in many other magazines: Leoplán, TV Guía, Vea y Lea, Damas y Damitas, Usted, Panorama, Adán, Atlántida, Che, el diario Democracia, etc.

In 1954, his cartoons became regulars in Rico Tipo, Tía Vicenta and Dr. Merengue. After this, he started to make more advertisement illustrations. On 21 May 2014, he was given the Premio Príncipe de Asturias de Comunicación y Humanidades. This prize was validated on 25 October of the same year, 2014, when he received a statuette designed by the painter and sculptor Joan Miró.

His first compilation book, Mundo Quino, was published in 1963, while he was developing pages for a covert advertising campaign for Mansfield, an electrical household appliance company, for which he created the character of Mafalda. The advertising campaign was never executed, which led to the publication of Mafalda’s first story to be published in Leoplán.

After this, it started to be published regularly in the weekly magazine Primera Plana, since the director of the magazine was a friend of Quino. Between 1965 and 1967 it was published in the newspaper El Mundo; soon after the first compilation book is published, it started to be edited in Italy, Spain (due to the censorship, it is tagged as 'only for adults'), Portugal and many others.

After abandoning the strip Mafalda on 25 June 1973, due to a lack of new ideas – according to him – Quino moved to Milan, Italy, from where he continued to create humor pages. In 1976, the character Mafalda was chosen by UNICEF to be a spokesperson for the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Mafalda is still translated in book collections. Argentine director Daniel Mallo translated 260 Mafalda strips into 90-second cartoons that aired in Argentina, starting in 1972.

In 2008, by initiative of the Museo del Dibujo y la Ilustración and under the curator Mercedes Casanegra, the company Subterráneos de Buenos Aires created two murals of Mafalda in the estación Perú in the Plaza de Mayo. In 2009, Quino participated with an original work of Mafalda, created for El Mundo, in the Bicentennial: 200 years of Graphic Humor that the Museo del Dibujo y la Ilustración held in the Museo Eduardo Sívori of Buenos Aires.

While Mafalda continued to be used for human rights campaigns in Argentina and abroad, Quino dedicated himself to writing other editorial-style comics. The comics were published in Argentina and abroad. Since 1982, the Argentine newspaper Clarín has published his cartoons weekly.

After visiting Cuban cartoon director Juan Padrón, the two produced a series of cartoons. Between 1986 and 1988, they made six Quinoscopio cartoons through the Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industrias Cinematográficos, none of which were longer than six minutes. In addition, the couple worked on 104 short Mafalda cartoons in 1994. While Mafalda concentrated on children and their innocent, realistic view of the world, his later comics featured ordinary people with ordinary feelings. The humor is characteristically cynical, often poking fun of real-life situations, such as marriage, technology, authority and food. It is possibly one of the main reasons for his success throughout Latin America and much of the world outside Latin America, which explains why his cartoons of aporteñado Argentine topic of the 1960s and 1970s have been edited and translated into many different languages apart the original Rioplatense Spanish. Collected in numerous volumes by Argentine publisher Ediciones de la Flor, these comics are readily available.

In 1960, he married Alicia Colombo, and the couple never had children. Starting in 1976, Quino and his wife lived in exile in Milan, Italy, for several years before returning to Argentina. He is an agnostic.