Yusuf was born in Chavakkad, Kerala. Yusuf left for Bangalore to become a painter. He received a diploma in painting from Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat (KCP), Bangalore, 1973 and later specialized in graphic print making from National Academy Community Studios, Garhi, Delhi, 1980. Arakkal's paintings are singularly expressionistic in style. In them one could trace the artist's "deep concern for man and society. Set against a dark, oppressive background are the faceless figures of ordinary people expressing brooding loneliness and despair brought on by a society obsessively drawn towards material success where ordinary people have no place".He has done many works in different media, canvases, sculptures with emphasis on tiger conservation.Arakkal received the prestigious Lorenzo De Medici Gold Medal, at Florence Internazionale Biennale, in Florence, Italy for his work Bacon’s Man with the Child and Priest. The award is instituted in memory of the great Florentine statesman Lorenzo de Medici. Yusuf had produced a large collection of miscellaneous works consisting of drawings, paintings, sculptures, murals, paper works, prints, and writing. He has won several other awards including Karnataka Lalithkala Academy award in 1979 and 1981, a national award in 1983, a special award at the third Asian Art Biennale Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1986 and the Karnataka Lalithkala Academy honor in 1989. His work has been part of over 40 group & solo shows in India and abroad including an exhibition of five International artists, curated by Galleria Tondinelli, Quattro Fontane, Rome, Italy, 2010 and Satyagraha, Homage to Mahatma Gandhi, Johannesburg, South Africa and Madrid, Spain in 2009. His work is with several Individual and Institutional collections in India and abroad such as the British Museum, MoMA, Sotheby’s, Christie's, Bonham's. Yusuf lives and works out of Bangalore.