Wäinö was the oldest of four children. In his youth, his family moved often, but finally settled down in Vyborg, where Wäinö continued his art studies that commenced in Sortavala. Even though art studies meant a lot for him, they were slowed down by the need to work for a living. After all, the studies needed financing.
Wäinö’s career in art was interrupted by the Civil War; he fought in the Red Guards. When the Reds lost the war, Wäinö’s position in Vyborg changed and he was no longer welcome to continue his studies. He moved to Helsinki, where he finished his studies, got married and had children. Wäinö’s eldest daughter, Kirsi Kunnas, is a well-known author of children’s books.