Yusuf Arakkal was born in Kerala in 1945. In 1973, he completed the diploma in painting from Chitrakala Parishat College of Art, Bangalore (now Bengaluru). In 1980, he completed specialization in graphic print making from the National Academy Community Studios, New Delhi.
He exhibited his works in numerous solo and group shows in many cities including, Bengaluru, New York, Hong Kong, Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and London.
In 1986, he won the Special Award at the Third Asian Art Biennale that was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In 2005, he won the Lorenzo-De-Medici Gold Medal at the 5th Florence International Biennale of Contemporary Art that was held in Italy. He also won two awards in the same year: the Varnashilpi Venkatappa Award, given by the Government of Karnataka and the Arad City Award at the Arad International Biennale in Romania.
Yusuf Arakkal passed away in 2016.