I don’t think there’s any definitive answer to this, as it doesn’t seem to come up in any of the early texts.
The earliest images date from a few hundred years later, and there the Buddha is depicted with a symbol—the wheel, the Bodhi tree, etc. So it seems reasonable to infer that there was some religiously based reluctance to represent the Buddha’s actual image, perhaps out of reverence, the idea that it is not possible to properly capture his image.
Obviously that didn’t last, and not long afterwards Buddha images became common. There are some curious myths around that, though, suggesting for example that the original model for the Buddha image was none other than Mara himself. This shows that there was a degree of equivocation about this whole process.
Another point to bear in mind is that there is no surviving iconography of any kind from the Buddha’s period, or several centuries around it. In fact there’s almost a complete gap from the end of the Indus valley civilization until the astonishing stonework of the Ashokan era appears. There’s just a few bits of pottery with simple designs, and some isolated remnants of rock painting in one or two places.
So from the Indus valley we have this:
Then nothing at all for a thousand years, except for a few scraps like this, some of which may predate the Buddha:
And the rock paintings at Deokothar, which are Buddhist, and perhaps pre-Ashokan:
And then this:
Out of nowhere these unparalleled and perfect expressions of artistic and creative accomplishment just appear.
In any case, clearly there were visual arts in the Buddha’s day, but it seems likely they were on perishable materials.