Intelligent And Mysterious: The HSE Crow Story

‘How’, ‘why’, and ‘when’ – everything you were curious about. Let us introduce you to the lovely mascot of HSE.

Intelligent And Mysterious: The HSE Crow Story

Our HSE crow is there with us on all huge events including the HSE Day, Golden HSE Awards, graduation ceremonies, sports competitions… Now when all of us are staying at home after the transition to the online learning our crow is there for us on our lock screens, HSE app, and Twitter. You’ve seen it, you know it. But how was our lovely university symbol created? You are about to find out.

 You might often hear someone saying that our crow was “born” in 1996 when Anna Arenshtein started working on the design for an HSE booklet and also created a painting called “Педсовет” (“Pedagogical Council”). The bird-like creatures that were featured in that booklet that was later published in 1998 and depicted on the painting, in fact, weren’t even crows. As Anna mentioned in one of her interviews, she was always fascinated with the mystery behind eggs since no one knows if it is a crocodile, a bird or some kind of a magical creature hiding inside.

Those birds that I draw are actually just strange creatures that don’t exist in our world. For some reason, people usually think that they are crows.

Yaroslav I. Kuzminov was the one to notice works of Anna and get her to collaborate with HSE.

Painting by Anna Arenshtein
Painting by Anna Arenshtein

The mystery behind crow-like creatures from the HSE booklet continued until the crow officially became the symbol of our university. According to one of the HSE “legends”, it was the graduation ceremony of the HSE’s International College of Economics and Finance when everyone saw our crow sitting next to the beaver, the symbol of the London School of Economics, and thought that it was finally time to offer the mysterious crow the promotion to the official university symbol level. Now the crow can even be found as an official member of the HSE faculty:

So why a crow? As Evgeny Yasin puts it, crows are both intelligent and a bit naughty: they are vise and have good manners, help each other but at the same time are always there to remind you how to behave yourself. Though the creation of HSE crow might appear to be just a lucky coincidence shrouded in mystery, the symbol has a deep meaning especially taking into account the fact that one of the widespread beliefs in Russia is that crows are one of the smartest birds. In fact, HSE actually became a guardian for one of the crows in the Moscow Zoo in 2011 once again proving our love for these amazing creatures.

As time passed by, more and more versions of the famous HSE crow were created: a vast majority of them – by HSE students themselves. Darya Maltseva was one of the creators whose HSE crow-themed stickers put our lovely mascot in the spotlight again.

 It all started when Darya and her friend, Anna Vasekhina, decided to participate in the annual Christmas Charity Fair “Ярмарка ВолВШЕбников”. Even though initially they wanted to focus on creating postcards with motivational quotes, the idea to make stickers inspired by various symbols associated with the faculty of Sociology for their classmates just felt right. It was a huge success. As Darya and Anna were preparing for the fair, they shared their ideas with friends and classmates and knew that they liked what they were working on, but still didn’t expect their stickers to be such a success: some stickers were sold out in 10 minutes with both professors and students wanting to get some.

In one of the interviews that girls did after the fair, they mentioned:

We already have some ideas for new stickers. Who knows, maybe this time we will be designing stickers not only for our major but for HSE as a whole.

Turns out that was not just an empty promise. In 2018, as a result of the collaboration between HSE App and Darya, all HSE students from different cities and campuses met with the new design of the HSE crow.

When I was working on those new stickers my main motivation was simply the success of our first sticker pack and my desire to create: if someone told me back then that my stickers would be used for the HSE app, I probably wouldn’t believe it, – shares Darya – Since this time I wanted to make something for all HSE students, the choice of the theme wasn’t even a question. If it’s about HSE, it has to be about our crow.

I just got lucky – Darya says with a big smile on her face – I decided to do this one event for the followers of my community on VK and eventually it got reposted to other groups, was seen by many people and one day one of the creators of the HSE app texted me asking if I wanted to collaborate with them. They needed someone to help them design the icons and little images for the app and I’m happy that I was the one whose works got their attention.

Ekaterina Tamilina is another student-creator behind one of the most famous and official designs of the HSE crow. As creators of the HSE app mentioned in their STUDLIFE HSE interview, they think it would be nice to collaborate with Ekaterina as well. Just like that the story of HSE crow continues, making HSE students feel united and encouraged to create.

If you miss going to offline lectures, talking to your classmates in the cafeteria, and just feeling as a part of this whole HSE culture, we highly encourage you to download and use wonderful lock screens and planner templates from And, yes, you guessed it. These, of course, have our lovely HSE crow featured.



Special thanks to Darya for sharing the story behind her wonderful designs becoming a part of the HSE App. Make sure to follow the VK group with her works so that you don’t miss any of her events or collaborations in the future.

Text by
Nadezhda Bykova